When you think of fine wine, your mind may wander to the gently sloping vineyards of Bordeaux in the south of France or California’s wine country – but perhaps you need to look closer to home. Because British wine is on the up.There are fields of new vineyards being planted on our shores, driven by the excellent sales of English sparkling wines. Yes, we can do fizz, too. Annual production has doubled from just over six million bottles per year in 2014 to more than 15.6 million bottles in England and Wales in 2018.After years of uncertainty around Brexit and coronavirus making travel to Europe an ongoing gamble, the booze cruise is currently a non-starter. But in place of of hopping over the channel to fill up the car boot with French plonk, why not turn your attention – and taste buds – to wines made right here in the UK.  Wondering where to start? Here’s what you need to know about the scene how to look for the perfect pour.Related... How To Make A Perfect Wine Spritzer Without A Recipe Sunnier spells, better harvestAccording to the Wine Standards Board of the Food Standards Agency, there are now more than 700 vineyards planted, spanning 2,000 hectares – a 75% increase in the past six years alone. The recent warmer and drier summers, coupled with a better understanding of soils and micro-climates, mean English vineyards are producing greater yields than ever. “The sunnier climate has improved winemaking in the UK massively,” Kristin Syltevik, owner of Oxney Organic Estate in East Sussex, explains to HuffPost UK. “It’s obviously quite scary the earth is getting hotter, but a couple of degrees over the years has benefited us.“Obviously, people have been growing grapes in England for many years, and vineyards across the country have been growing Germanic hybrids and different varieties, but they’re not always the tastiest or the best grapes. Now we can grow types such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which require a hotter climate.”If you’re looking for an autumn holiday or a short weekend staycation, take a tour of an English vineyard and stay the night. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but right now is harvest season and it’s the best time to visit.Kent and Sussex are host to a glut of producers, but there are vineyards as far afield as Cornwall and Shropshire and Suffolk – even some in sunny Yorkshire.Mastering our craftOver the years, English winemakers have been honing their craft – where there’s no direct competition, winemakers learn from one another and it’s a supportive industry – and we’re now seeing the fruit of their labour.“The knowledge and wine accessibility has got a lot better in this country since the mid-noughties, for sure,” says Bert Blaize, expert sommelier, head of food and drink at Birch Community and co-author of wine guide, Which, Wine, When.“People are curious and more open-minded to try new things rather than just saying, ‘I only drink Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.’ 2018 and 2019 were two of the best English wine vintages we’ve ever had a record in this country.”More people are willing to take a punt on English wines than ever this year, he says – the pandemic encouraged us to shop more locally, seasonally, and opt for artisanal produce when supermarkets shelves were bare from panic-buying.“Of course, it takes a long time to kind of convince people that English wine is as good as its European counterparts,” Syltevik adds. “It’ll take us a while to get everyone on the same page, but it’s a brilliant product that’s super tasty and has won many awards. Everyone should give it a try.”  Decisions, decisions, decisionsWhen it comes to English wines, you can find increasingly good varieties on the supermarket shelves, as well as buying directly from vineyards and specialist wine merchants. It’s not always going to be the cheapest option – a good bottle hovers around the £20-£30 mark, but supermarkets have options from as little as £11. Waitrose has a particularly wide selection, Marks and Spencer’s is also good, and Tesco’s website currently has both regular and sparking whites, White wines have make up the bulk of homegrown wine for a while, but English reds are also improving. So what to choose? Organic versus conventional? Classics like Chardonnay or the new English Pinot Noirs? Perhaps something a little out there like Bacchus, Pinot Meunier or Ortega? “I think naturally food and wine just go hand in hand. People are experimenting more with the kind of wines that they’ve been drinking,” Blaize explains. “If you’re not sure what to go for then just break it down. I always like to think about wine, as a condiment. For example, if you’re having fish and chips, you know there’s loads of salt, vinegar, and perhaps lemon for the fish. It’s immediately telling you that you need a lot of acidity, so opt for a white wine that’s really dry with lemony flavours, so something like champagne or cava would pair really well.If you’re still unsure, there are always clues there; you just have to know where to look. “Keep in mind that generic rules don’t really work for wine, because everyone’s palates and taste buds are different and there’s a huge variety of flavour combinations out there,” he suggests. “Part of the fun is experimenting and trying new things.”Related... Our Drinking Problem Got Worse Under Lockdown. Here Are The Facts How The UK’s Beloved Craft Beer Industry Is Adapting To The Lockdown What Drinking On An Empty Stomach Does To Your Body
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening. Today’s edition is by Ned Simons. Paul is away.Here We Go AgainEngland looked on the edge of new national restrictions today, as Sage warned there was “widespread growth of the epidemic” across the UK.The R-rate has jumped to between 1.1 and 1.4, up from between 1 and 1.2. The number of new infections is rising by 2% and 7% every day. More than 4,000 new coronavirus cases have been recorded for the first time since May. Keir Starmer has urged the PM to convene a meeting of Cobra and called for “swift, decisive national action”. Nicola Sturgeon has demanded the same.You also only have to look at the latest from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey to see what’s driving the worry.According to the data published today, an average of 6,000 people in England were infected per day between September 4 to 10. This is a “marked increase” on the 3,200 the previous week. The rise appears to be driven by an increase in the number of people testing positive aged 2 to 11, 17 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years.We are yet to see what impact, if any, the “rule of six” which came into force on Monday has had.The figures dropped minutes before the government confirmed local lockdowns would be enforced across parts of the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire. From Tuesday, residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens.Restaurants, pubs and bars will be restricted to table service only, while all leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs and cinemas must close between 10pm and 5am.London is about “two weeks behind” these regions when it came to infection rates, Sadiq Khan warned today, amid suggestions similar rules for the capital are on the cards.At some point it might be easier to count the areas that are not under a local lockdown than the ones that are. As Sky News points out, just under 13 million people, one in five of the UK population, are now under some form of extra controls.A short-term “circuit break” of national restrictions in England would likely see the government attempt to keep business and education up and running while clamping down on the fun stuff such as pubs and household mixing.Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the “good news” was the number of cases being passed on in workplaces was “relatively low”.“Protecting the economy, protecting work and protecting education, protecting schools, these can be done alongside restrictions of our social lives,” he said.The prime minister said earlier this week a second national lockdown would be “wrong” and “disastrous”. But it’s worth remembering there is no precise definition of what a “lockdown” means.Under pressure in July over accusations the country was shut down too late, Hancock claimed the first lockdown actually began on March 16 when he told the Commons “unnecessary social contact should cease”, not March 23 when Boris Johnson said people “must” stay at home. It’s been reported restrictions could be imposed to coincide with October half-term. But that’s five weeks away. Which is a long time in pandemics.Quote Of The Day “He’s enormously, enormously vigorous.”– Matt Hancock defends the prime minister during an interview with Times RadioFriday Cheat SheetHuman rights lawyer Amal Clooney has resigned as a special UK envoy over the government’s plans to break international law over Brexit. London’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display will not take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Sadiq Khan confirmed.The US will ban the downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday, with a total ban on the use of the latter, citing national security and data privacy concerns.What I’m Listening ToFiasco - The Battle for Boston tells the story of the movement to desegregate Boston’s public schools—and all the backlash that followed.
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Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has resigned as a UK special envoy over the government’s plans to break international law over Brexit. Clooney – who was appointed as the UK’s special envoy on media freedoms in 2019 – said she was “dismayed” by Boris Johnson’s plans regarding the Internal Markets Bill. In a letter to foreign secretary Dominic Raab, she said she was “disappointed” to have to resign, having “always been proud of the UK’s reputation as achampion of the international legal order, and of the culture of fair play for which it is known”. “However, very sadly, it has now become untenable for me, as Special Envoy, to urge other states to respect and enforce international obligations while the UK declares that it does not intend to do so itself.” Amal Clooney has quit as a UK govt envoy pic.twitter.com/XgiEK0C7pW— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) September 18, 2020Her resignation follows plans by the government to introduce a law that would allow Johnson the power to override parts of the Brexit agreement with the EU. Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis admitted in the Commons earlier this month that the bill would break international law in a “specific and limited way”In her letter to Raab, Clooney condemned government plans to do so, saying it was “lamentable for the UK to be speaking of its intention to violate an international treaty signed by the prime minister less than a year ago”. The barrister said she had been convinced to resign having spoken to government officials and having received “no assurance that any change of position is imminent”. Clooney is not the first person to resign over the controversial Internal Markets Bill. Lord Keen of Elie QC, one of the PM’s most senior law officers, quit on Wednesday, saying in a letter to Johnson that he had found it “increasingly difficult to reconcile what I consider to be my obligations as a Law Officer with your policy intentions”.  Related... Law Officer Quits Over Johnson Plan To Break International Law
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Pull on your gold hoodie and Darth Vader breathing apparatus and take a trip with us to 2051 Updated  Worried about the impact of Brexit and COVID-19 on your supply chain? Wondering about the operating systems of the future? A reseller has the inside scoop on when you should expect that shipment of 17 "Windows XP" cams, and it's 2051.…
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The United States Postal Service drafted an ambitious proposal in April to send a pack of five face masks to every residential address in the US before top White House officials killed the idea, according to an analysis by the Washington Post of documents acquired by the watchdog organisation American Oversight.American Oversight, which obtained over 9,000 pages related to the USPS via the Freedom of Information Act, released the documents in late August. One of the records, entitled “US Postal Service to Deliver Face Coverings to Every American Household,” is a draft of a press release indicating that USPS planned to “distribute 560 million reusable cotton face masks on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to every residential delivery point in America, beginning in areas which HHS has identified as experiencing high transmission rates of Covid-19 and to workers providing essential services throughout the nation during this pandemic.”Composed in April, the draft stated that “letter carriers, rural carriers and others will deliver one pack of five face coverings to each residential delivery point and PO Box,” with the first shipments intended to reach residents that month. The Orleans and Jefferson parishes of Louisiana were targeted for delivery first, followed by Washington’s King County, Michigan’s Wayne County, and New York.The draft was never finalised due to the White House axing the plan, the Washington Post reported, citing senior administration officials who asked to remain anonymous.“There was concern from some in the White House Domestic Policy Council and the office of the vice president that households receiving masks might create concern or panic,” one of the officials told the Post.As an alternative, HHS instituted “Project: America Strong,” a system that has seen about 600 million masks distributed to critical infrastructure companies, hospitals and community groups, rather than individuals.In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the White House also utilised the postal service to send out a postcard prominently displaying Donald Trump’s name with guidelines for good hygiene and social distancing ― a decision that Accountable.US, another nonprofit watchdog, lambasted due to the president publicly downplaying both these guidelines and the danger of the coronavirus at the time. Though the postcard went out in March to about 138 million addresses, the White House has yet to repay USPS for the $28 million cost of printing and distributing the cards.In August, Trump seemingly admitted that he was intentionally blocking funding for the USPS, which is expected to see a torrent of mail-in ballots ahead of the November presidential election. The president has been propagating conspiracy theories against mail-in voting, claiming that it leads to “ballot harvesting” and “voter fraud.”Related... James Corden Notices A Weird Pattern With Trump's Photos Boris Johnson Facing Fresh Tory Rebellion Over Cheap US Food Imports Cher Attacks Trump Over Covid 'Herd Mentality' Remarks: 'Seems 200k Dead Isn’t Enough Carnage'
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Not So Splendid IsolationAfter a few days of Brexit muscling in on the news agenda (with horrible flashbacks of the hung parliament hell of a year ago), coronavirus returned to dominate Westminster today. From Matt Hancock’s new local lockdown and extra NHS cash to Dido Harding’s Test and Trace problems, Covid was everywhere, so to speak.And what struck me most was that while politicians and officials daren’t explicitly blame the Great British Public for the alarming new spread of the virus, it’s clear that’s where they think the real responsibility lies.Hancock himself again hinted that one reason for the huge demand in tests was that the damned things were free. Explaining the looming rationing of tests (except of course he calls it “prioritising”), he said: “This is the core point: when something is provided for free and demand is therefore high, we have to prioritise where we put our national resources.”He was referring to Leicester, which has a large BAME population. Yet only a few weeks ago, when the health secretary was keen on maximising test applications (even those in any “doubt” about symptoms), insiders told us that one deterrent for some older minority ethnic voters was a fear that tests would carry a charge (as in their ‘home’ countries).Jacob Rees-Mogg’s latest gaffe, suggesting people were “carping” when they say it’s difficult to get tests, perhaps spoke to this wider perception that the pesky public had got it all wrong.Before the science and technology committee, Harding and health minister Lord Bethell also came pretty close to suggesting that the real problem, both with surging demand and with the rise in the virus, was down to Joe Public rather than anything the government had done (like, say, encouraging people into pubs, schools, offices).Giving us the first hard stats for a week, Harding revealed that the online and phone applications for tests was “three to four times the number of tests we currently have available”, which she said was now 242,000 tests a day.But when chairman Greg Clark said that the September surge was “entirely predictable” and more capacity should have been built more quickly, she gave a fascinating reply. “I don’t think anybody was expecting to see the really sizeable increase in demand that we’ve seen over the course of the last few weeks,” she said.‌And then there was this: “In none of the modelling was that expected. We built our capacity plans based on Sage modelling.” It wasn’t as if she was directly trying to blame the scientists but setting out just what drove her actions.Still, Clark’s point seemed valid: wouldn’t any normal reading of human behaviour include teachers, parents and kids requesting more tests when schools went back? She said nobody expected a spike in demand, but plenty did.But Harding had a wider point about testing, in that her surveys had found 27% of those arriving at test centres actually didn’t have symptoms. These were people who had been in contact with someone who had tested positive, but wanted to check themselves to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days.And she revealed that lots of people were indeed breaking quarantine. Some reasons were valid (“caring responsibilities”), some less so (“they feel they need to pop out to grab something from a shop or they just want some fresh air”). Harding said that “a meaningful percentage” of people find it hard to stick to the full 14 days.Lord Bethell was more robust still, saying “there is a temptation to believe that having a test somehow is a cure, or if not a cure is a way out of your commitment to isolate”. Lockdown fatigue had kicked in too. He added that while “we would never have achieved what we’ve done if the public hadn’t been on our side...people do get tired”.Now I’ve got to declare an interest here. I had to quarantine for 14 days after getting caught out by the short notice imposition of quarantine on returnees from France this summer. I stuck rigidly to the rules, not going out beyond the front door. I can tell you it was no picnic, and at times felt like house arrest. But I am lucky in having online grocery delivery, a nice garden and most important of all the ability to work from home.If you have none of those things, quarantine would be much, much more difficult. Imagine being a builder living in a high rise flat with no internet. Sage research found that 75% of people in self-isolation go shopping, and young men in particular are more likely to go outdoors.One obvious route to improving the quarantine rate would be a quick, proper payment to ensure people aren’t left out of pocket for not working. But today, on Radio 4’s World At One, Pendle Council’s David Whipp revealed that the government’s pilot scheme of £13 a day had been taken up by...four people. Yes, four, in an area with serious coronavirus levels. Unless the payment is an amount workers can live on, it seems the pilot will die on its feet.The overall message from today’s sci and tech session was that the real issue is the public’s failure to self-isolate. Maybe the government’s programme should have been named ‘NHS Test, Trace And Isolate’ from the start, just to get over that message that the first two are useless unless the third leg is adhered to.Of course, if the testing is expanded rapidly, quarantine may be shortened and more palatable. If serious cash is pumped into cutting the cost of self-isolation, if networks can be set up for food deliveries, if the app arrives in time. Until then, we may well see more measures like curfews and rules on not mixing households. Maybe, just maybe, No.10 will reverse its drive to get people back into the office too.But there’s real dilemma for the government: just as they are hinting the public ought to take more responsibility in not applying for needless tests and in complying better with quarantine, the public is losing confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic.A new YouGov poll today found its net approval score dropped to -33, from -18 last week. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Dido Harding have a big job to do to turn that round. Quote Of The Day“Instead of this endless carping, saying it is difficult to get them, we should actually celebrate the phenomenal success of the British nation in getting up to a quarter of a million tests.”‌– Jacob Rees-Mogg  Thursday Cheat SheetNHS Test and Trace reported a dramatic fall in tests returned within 24 hours, plunging from 66% to 33% for in-person tests in just a week.The UK recorded 21 more coronavirus deaths and 3,395 cases.Almost two million people in the North East of England will be banned from socialising with other households, following a “concerning” rise in Covid-19, Matt Hancock announced. He also unveiled £2.7bn extra for the NHS over winter, and doubled care home infection control cash to £1bn.Former Tory leader Michael Howard warned No.10’s compromise over the Internal Market Bill may not get through the Lords. “The government is still asking Parliament to break international law,” he told the BBC.Transport secretary Grant Shapps put Slovenia and Guadeloupe on the ‘red list’ of countries for quarantine, but said Thailand and Singapore were now free from such curbs.A third of lone parents have received no child maintenance payments at all from their ex-partners during the coronavirus lockdown, a survey shared with HuffPost UK revealed.David Cameron revealed to Times Radio that he volunteered at his local foodbank in Chipping Norton. The news was not universally welcomed. What I’m ReadingChina Is Winning The Trade War - QuartzRelated... Boris Johnson Can Fudge His Brexit Bill, But He Can’t Fudge Covid’s Rise Why The Buck Stops With Johnson And Hancock On Covid Testing Failures Just WTF Does Boris Johnson Think He's Doing? On Covid AND On Brexit?
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Oh, and Smart Freight System software in beta by April... will be used from December. WCGW? The UK government has enlisted controversial US AI biz Palantir in a bid to "mitigate and manage potential disruption at the border" as the country's departure from the EU comes into force.…
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening. Fudging itIt took him a week to find his conscience, but Lord Keen finally decided he couldn’t live with breaking international law. Having been hung out to dry by cabinet minister Brandon Lewis (whose political street fighting skills made Keen look like a rank amateur), in the end he really had little option but to quit.For shadow attorney general Charlie Falconer (another political bruiser), the only thing that was surprising was that it took him so long. And in many ways, this was Falconer’s scalp (and that of Labour’s savvy Lords operation), having yesterday roughed up the Advocate General with a mix of cold anger and ridicule.His jibe at Keen on Tuesday - “The key characteristic for law officers is not brains – they can get all the advice they want from the English bar of lawyers – it is backbone” - clearly stung his fellow QC in the Lords. Goaded by Falconer’s heckling, Keen then effectively signed his own political suicide note by suggesting Lewis had misspoken.It’s perfectly possible that Keen had also worked out that even the new ‘compromise’ between No.10 and Tory rebels still involved breaking international law. The PM has indeed been forced to accept Bob Neill’s argument that MPs, rather than ministers, should get the first say over triggering such a nuclear option. But an option it remains, written in statue.The resignation of a fellow law officer certainly puts pressure on attorney general Suella Braverman (who has been incredibly silent in public on this whole affair) and justice secretary Robert Buckland.Few MPs expect Braverman to do anything other than blindly back No10. But Buckland has been wobbling. His line to Sky News today - that he would resign if the government broke international law in “a way that cannot be fudged” - made clear that fudging was now his own justification for staying on.Still, Buckland’s political capital among like-minded liberal lawyers like Neill seems to have been enough to help avoid a showdown next week. Levelling with the rebels, about what was politically possible and their mutual interest on the issue, paid off.So, with a resignation and yet another climbdown in the face of a backbench rebellion, has the PM ended today weaker? Not according to one minister I talked to today. “It’s like that old Michael Caine saying, ‘I’ve been poor and unhappy and I’ve been rich and unhappy. And believe me, rich is better!’” they said. “We had a difficult time governing with no majority, and how we have a difficult time governing with a majority of 80. And believe me, a majority of 80 is better!”Both No.10 and Labour realise that the spats about the Internal Market Bill pale in comparison to public unease over coronavirus spikes and testing failures. On an impressive debut at PMQs, Angela Rayner never lost sight of that bigger picture. And Johnson made clear at the Liaison Committee that the rising infections would “lead to mortality...that is the reality”.That sounded like an echo of his warning way back in early March, before the virus took off and before the lockdown: “It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public: many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” Today, however, he didn’t level with us, as he had no real explanations for the bottleneck in testing.The short-term solution will be “prioritisation” of tests, with possibly schools added to the hierarchy of hospitals and care homes, when Matt Hancock unveils the rationing programme in coming days.The PM notably didn’t rule out a second national lockdown today. If big areas like the north east, Leeds and Birmingham join the north west in local curbs, England will feel like it’s already in a new national lockdown anyway.That’s why perhaps Johnson does need to ‘level’ with us all more. “We just need to be a bit more honest with people,” one minister says. The PM did today admit capacity was inadequate for demand, but daily testing capacity numbers are no longer available, just when more transparency is needed.Tomorrow’s weekly test and trace stats need to get better too.Fudging breaking international law is one thing, fudging coronavirus’s spread is altogether more dangerous.Quote Of The day“We don’t have enough testing capacity now”‌– Boris JohnsonWednesday Cheat SheetNearly 4,000 people in the UK were confirmed as having Covid-19, the highest since early May.No10 agreed a compromise over the Internal Market Bill. But it added an extra amendment that critics said made judicial review of its sweeping powers even harder.Joe Biden tweeted a warning about the UK breaking international law. “We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.”Former transport secretary Chris Grayling, who once gave a no-deal Brexit ferry contract to a company with no ships, is to be paid £100,000 a year to advise a leading ports company (which is owned by Beijing-friendly Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing).What I’m ReadingThe Billionaire Who Wanted To Die Broke Is Now Broke - ForbesRelated... Why The Buck Stops With Johnson And Hancock On Covid Testing Failures Just WTF Does Boris Johnson Think He's Doing? On Covid AND On Brexit? Government Ordered To Reveal More Secrets About Post-Brexit Trade Talks
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Boris Johnson has struck a compromise with Tory MPs who were rebelling over his controversial plans to break international law over Brexit.The prime minister revealed he would accept demands to give MPs a parliamentary veto on key powers which would allow ministers to renege on the Brexit withdrawal agreement (WA) he negotiated and signed this year.It came with the government facing a major Tory rebellion on the issue in a Monday Commons vote on the Internal Market Bill.Dozens of MPs were lining up to back the amendment by senior Tory and Commons justice committee chair Bob Neill, to ensure parliament had a vote before the key powers were exercised.But Johnson and the MP have now agreed that the government will table its own amendment to achieve this, which Neill and potentially other rebels will back.It came after one of Johnson’s most senior legal officers resigned over the law-breaking plans.Jonathan Jones, the head of the government’s legal department, and the PM’s religion envoy Rehman Chishti, have already quit over the plans.Neill, No.10 and Damian Green, chair of the Tory One Nation caucus, announced the compromise in a joint statement.They said: “Following constructive talks over the last few days, the government has agreed to table an amendment for committee stage (of the Bill, on Monday).“This amendment will require the House of Commons to vote for a motion before a minister can use the ‘notwithstanding’ powers contained in the UK Internal Market Bill.“The Internal Market Bill was designed to give MPs and peers a vote on the use of these powers via statutory instrument.“But following talks, it is agreed that the parliamentary procedure suggested by some colleagues provides a clearer, more explicit democratic mandate for the use of these powers, and also provides more legal certainty.“The government will table another amendment which sets clear limits on the scope and timeliness of judicial review into the exercise of these powers.“This will provide people and businesses with the certainty that they need.“We welcome the way the parliamentary party has come together on these issue.“There is near-unanimous agreement that the government must be able to use these powers as a final resort, that there must be legal certainty, and that no further amendments are required on these powers.”Related... Law Officer Quits Over Johnson Plan To Break International Law Minister ‘Answered Wrong Question’ When He Admitted To Law-Breaking Brexit Plan Coronavirus Test Centre Closed Because Government Needs Land For Brexit
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One of Boris Johnson’s most senior law officers looks set to quit or be fired after he suggested a cabinet minister had misspoken when he claimed the UK was ready to break international law over Brexit.Lord Keen of Elie QC, the Advocate General for Scotland and a justice minister, faced humiliation as Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs on Wednesday his colleague had been flat wrong to dispute the government’s stance.Labour said that Lord Keen’s authority was now “shot” to pieces following Lewis’s remarks, amid intense speculation that he would soon leave his post.Keen was last week said to be on the edge of resigning over the government’s admission that its new Internal Market Bill “breaks international law in a specific and limited way”.Meanwhile, the UK faced fresh anger from the EU after Lewis refused to guarantee that the UK would abide by the outcome of any disputes process agreed with Brussels.European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen jibed the PM, quoting Margaret Thatcher’s belief that “Britain does not break treaties”, as the Brexit row reignited once more.Keen had sparked ridicule on Tuesday when he told peers that he felt that Lewis had “answered the wrong question” when making his now infamous comment about breaking international law.But government sources told HuffPost that Keen was not speaking for the government and in evidence to the Northern Ireland select committee, Lewis rammed home his message that his words were official policy in line with legal advice of the Attorney General Suella Braverman.“I’ve spoken to Lord Keen. When he’s looked at the specific question I was asked last week, he has agreed with me that the answer I gave was correct. That answer I gave reflects the government legal advice,” he said.Lewis had been replying to a question from Tory grandee Sir Bob Neill, who has since threatened a rebel amendment to the legislation that would give MPs the final say on any breach of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement on Brexit.Shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said that Lord Keen’s authority was now “shot”.Brandon Lewis admitted passage of Bill is breach of international law. Lord Keen, Advocate General, expressed detailed legal views in Lords. The views of one of law officers repudiated by govt. Law Officers’ authority now totally shot. https://t.co/Z08OlY3YOk— Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) September 16, 2020Lewis told MPs: “I read out something very specific because I wanted to ensure that what I said, to make sure that I was giving the House a straight answer.”The cabinet minister also insisted that the government intends to deploy its “break the law” provisions in parallel with using EU arbitration mechanisms, rather than exhausting the Brussels route first.“Even if we end up in a situation where we need to use the ‘safety net’ we do that at same time [as going down the EU route],” he said.And he sparked a fresh backlash from the EU when he refused to say whether he would abide by the outcome of the arbitration process agreed with Brussels for any disputes over the Brexit divorce treaty.Asked directly if the UK would abide by the outcome of such arbitration, Lewis replied: “To get into a hypothetical about what would happen is an unhelpful and dangerous place to be.”Committee chair Simon Hoare replied that “there are many people in prison” who don’t like “the ruling of the judge” but they accept it nevertheless.Irish politician Neale Richmond was swift to condemn Lewis’s latest remarks.It is not hypothetical in anyway. UK Govt must guarantee their responsibilities and meet their obligations. A very revealing #brexit hearing in front of the @CommonsNIAC this morning. https://t.co/JLPN5LqiJL— Neale Richmond (@nealerichmond) September 16, 2020Earlier, in her annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament, Von der Leyen said both sides had agreed the Withdrawal Agreeent was the only way to guarantee the Northern Ireland peace process.She quoted Mrs Thatcher, as saying: “Britain does not break treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world and bad for any future treaty on trade.”The EU chief added: “This was true then and this is true today. Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.”
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We’re in the middle of surge in Covid-19 cases You have probably already heard that we are in the middle of a surge in Covid-19 cases. After a huge upturn in coronavirus cases that peaked across April and the start of May – with 6,201 new cases reported on May 1 alone – the UK saw a dramatic decline in infections over the summer. Throughout June and July cases dropped, with just 352 cases reported on July 6 – the lowest recorded since lockdown began on March 23. But since the start of August, cases have been on the rise.On August 9, more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections were reported by the government for the first time since June 26. Daily cases breached the 1,000 mark 18 more times during the month. But it was on September 6 that the UK received a sharp reminder that the pandemic had not gone away over summer, with 2,988 new Covid-19 cases reported. It was the highest figure recorded in more than three months – and was followed by similar numbers in the following days. On September 11, 3,539 new cases were announced in the UK – the first time the number had exceeded 3,500 since May 17. As a result of these rising figure, the government has implemented strict new rules on meeting with people outside of your own household or bubble. On Monday, it became illegal in England to meet with more than five other people outside of your household. Key dates: 31/01/20 – first two cases of Covid-19 reported in the UK 01/05/20 – 6,201 cases reported – the highest throughout the pandemic 06/07/20 – 352 cases reported – the lowest number recorded since lockdown09/08/20 – daily cases breach 1,000 for the first time since June (1,062 cases) 06/09/20 – daily cases breach 2,000 for the first time since 30/05 (2,988 cases) 11/09/20 – daily cases breach 3,500 for the first time since 17/05 (3,539 cases)  The R rate could be as high as 1.7 However, it’s not just the rise in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 each day that suggests the spread of coronavirus infections is getting worse. On Friday, a study by Imperial College London warned that the R rate – the reproduction rate of the virus – could be as high as 1.7 in the UK. That would mean that every 10 people with Covid-19 would be infecting 17 people – something scientists have branded “concerning”. The government’s own calculations, however, suggest the R rate is between 1.0 and 1.2, up from between 0.7 and 1.0 when ministers first published the figures in May. Meanwhile, the latest data also suggests the growth rate of the virus is between -1% and +3%, meaning the number of new infections each day is somewhere between shrinking by 1% and growing by 3%. These are the coronavirus hotspots in England right now On Sunday, new analysis of government figures revealed that Bolton – which is already under strict lockdown measures – had the highest rate of coronavirus in England. Public Health England figures show the town recorded 552 new Covid-19 cases in the seven days to September 10 – the equivalent of 192 cases per 100,000 people. For context, the government usually adds foreign countries to its quarantine list when the rate reaches 20 per 100,000. But Bolton is not alone – four other areas in England also had rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people. Blackburn with Darwen, Hydburn, Oadby and Wigston and Preston all made the list. Areas of England with the highest rates of Covid-19Bolton: 126.2 cases per 100,000 peopleBlackburn with Darwen: 118.2 cases per 100,000 people Hyndburn: 114.8 cases per 100,000 people Oadby and Wigston: 114 cases per 100,000 people Preston: 102 cases per 100,000 people In total, 210 of the 315 local authority areas in England recorded an increase in the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in the seven days to September 10.The rate fell in 91 areas and was unchanged in 14 areas.New cases were recorded in all 315 local authority areas.Despite a spike in cases, coronavirus deaths remain low  On March 6, the UK’s first coronavirus death was confirmed by the government. Since then, another 41,663 people have died, leaving the UK with fifth highest Covid-19 death toll in the world. Like cases, deaths from the virus peaked in April and May, with more than 1,000 deaths reported on some days. But it was on April 21 that the coronavirus pandemic truly spiked, with the deaths of 1,224 people reported in a single day – the highest figure at any time throughout the crisis. Between the end of April and the start of July, deaths from Covid-19 dropped dramatically.On July 30, for the first time since March 11, the UK did not report a single death from the virus. Since then, deaths have remained low – despite the recent spike in cases. However, scientists have warned that this could change. Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, a senior mathematical modeller from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, told HuffPost UK: “There is a danger that the number of hospitalisations and deaths may be lagging behind [the recent spike in cases] and we just don’t know at the moment.“This is the concerning factor – how is this going to develop over the next couple of days, weeks and months?” Key dates: 06/03/20 – first Covid-19 death reported in the UK 24/03/20 – daily deaths exceed 100 for the first time (148 deaths) 07/04/20 – daily deaths breach 1,000 for the first time (1,105 deaths) 21/04/20 – 1,224 deaths reported – the highest number in the UK throughout the pandemic 17/06/20 – the last time more than 100 deaths were reported (110 deaths) 30/07/20 – zero deaths reported for the first time since 11/03 The number of people in hospital with coronavirus is rising – very slowly  The picture in the UK’s hospitals now is drastically different to how it was at the peak of the coronavirus crisis. On April 12, there were 19,872 people in hospital with coronavirus. On September 13, there were just 972 – a huge decrease. However, while there has undoubtedly been a massive drop in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital since the height of the pandemic, government data suggests the number of people hospitalised with the virus is on the rise once again. Since August 11, there have been fewer than 1,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals across the UK, reaching a pandemic-low of 756 on August 28. But the start of September brought a creeping rise in hospitalisations.There have been more than 800 people in hospital with Covid-19 since September 7, rising to 972 on September 13 – the highest number seen since mid-August. The number of people on ventilators remains low Like the total number of coronavirus patients in hospital, the number of people with the virus needing mechanical ventilation has also fallen drastically. On April 12, there were 3,301 people with Covid-19 on ventilators in hospitals in the UK – the highest at any point during the pandemic so far. Since then, there has been a huge drop in the number of people needing this kind of support breathing, with the figure dropping down into the double digits by the end of July.  However, there are some indications that could be very slowly changing direction.On September 14, there were 106 people in mechanical ventilation beds in the UK – the first time the number had risen above 100 since July 24. What is going on with testing? It’s important to remember as the pandemic has gone on, the UK’s coronavirus testing capacity has increased. With Covid-19 tests reserved for key workers at the start of the crisis, its likely that there were many more people with coronavirus in March, April and May than official figures would suggest. According to government data, on September 10 the UK had the capacity to carry out almost 375,000 coronavirus tests – the highest ever. Despite this, the testing system has been shrouded in chaos in recent weeks, with people – including sick children – told to travel hundreds of miles for a Covid-19 test. HuffPost UK reported last week how testing centres have been turning away thousands of people, including key workers. On Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that – while the government attempts to fix problems in the system – tests for coronavirus will be rationed. Patients with acute medical needs and people in care homes will be at the front of the queue for Covid-19 checks under a new system, he explained. Infographics provided by Statista.Related... Covid-19 'Worse Than Science Fiction' And 'Still At Beginning', Says WHO Expert Covid Tests To Be Rationed As Matt Hancock Told System In Chaos Coronavirus Test Centre Closed Because Government Needs Land For Brexit
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Michel Barnier suggested that Boris Johnson took the explosive step to renege on the Brexit deal to divert attention from his coronavirus response.
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Boris Johnson’s government has claimed that a cabinet minister “answered the wrong question” when he suggested that new Brexit legislation would break international law.Senior minister and chief legal officer Lord Keen of Elie said that Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis had effectively misspoken when he made the dramatic admission to MPs last week that the Internal Market Bill would breach the law “in a specific and limited way”.Keen, the Advocate General of Scotland, made the remarks as government whips struggled to reassure backbench Tory MPs and peers and avoid a parliamentary rebellion over the legislation next week. Explained Here's WTF Is Going On In The Latest Big Brexit Row But the shift in stance was swiftly greeted with ridicule by Labour and Tory peers, with shadow attorney general Lord Falconer telling HuffPost UK that Lewis was being “hung out to dry” for telling the truth.Quizzed during an emergency question on the issue in the House of Lords, Lord Keen said: “I have satisfied myself as to the correct legal position in this context. It is my view that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland essentially answered the wrong question.”It was unclear which question Lord Keen felt that Lewis was answering, and his words sparked groans of dissent.Lord Falconer heckled in exasperation: “For goodness sake – he [Lewis] is a Cabinet minister!”Lord Keen replied: “I hope he has not become unwell in view of the noises emanating from him. But if he has, I wish him well for the future.”Afterwards, Falconer told HuffPost UK: “This was incomprehensible. The Northern Ireland Secretary was honest in his response, but is now being hung out to dry by his own government.”Lord Keen’s remarks appeared to be part of a wider shift by the government to deny that its new bill would breach international law, despite key clauses explicitly setting out how they would be incompatible with the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed by the PM and the EU earlier this year.The legislation would allow the UK to set tariffs and state aid rules of its own, should talks collapse between the UK and Brussels, and has been described as a “safety net” by No.10.Keen had stressed that its powers to tear up the Brexit divorce treaty would only come into effect if the EU breached its own duties under the agreement or if the UK chose to exercise other legal rights.However, there was fresh confusion over Lord Keen’s remarks as Whitehall sources suggested the Advocate General was not speaking for the government when he made his remarks.Tory peer Lord Lexden had led the criticism, asking the minister: “Is it not difficult to retain confidence in the Lord Chancellor and the law officers of the Crown when they acquiesce in the government’s declaration of a willingness to break international law?“Are they not charged, these officers of the Crown, with responsibility for ensuring that ministers respect the rule of law – national and international – in all circumstances?“A duty with which permitting threats to break it are hardly compatible.”But Lord Keen replied: “In my opinion, the present Bill does not of itself constitute a breach of international law or of the rule of law.”In unusually robust remarks for the House of Lords, Lord Falconer hit back: “The key characteristic for law officers is not brains – they can get all the advice they want from the English bar of lawyers – it is backbone.”Lord Falconer said: “The party that changes its story on law as this government does shows it lacks backbone.“How does the Advocate General feel able consistent with personal honour and professional duty to remain as the Advocate General?”Tory former solicitor general Lord Garnier, another critic of the new legislation, said: “The Bill that we are considering disapplies sections of a treaty which we have freely entered into.”He questioned “how does that fit” with the first duty of the law officer being to uphold the rule of law.Lord Keen said: “As regards the present Bill, it is designed to provide for a contingency which will only operate in the event of us having to respond to a material breach or a fundamental change in obligations and then only by bringing forward regulations that will require the approval of this House.“Unless and until that occurs, there is no breach of the treaty. There is simply a means by which the treaty obligations can be addressed in the event of a breach.”A government spokesman played down Keen’s remarks, saying: “Last week the Attorney General wrote to Select Committee chairs to set out the government’s legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement and the provisions in the UKIM Bill. This position has not changed.“This is about creating a legal safety net and taking the powers in reserve whereby Minister can act to guarantee the integrity of the UK and protect the peace process.’”Boris Johnson has held personal talks with lead rebel Sir Bob Neill, who has tabled an amendment aimed at giving MPs rather than ministers the final say over any powers used to tear up the international treaty.Related... Minister Admits Boris Johnson's Brexit Deal Plan Breaks The Law Here's WTF Is Going On In The Latest Big Brexit Row Can Tory Rebels Really Stop Boris Johnson From Breaking International Law?
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Reality bitesBoris Johnson was always going to win the second reading of his controversial Internal Market Bill. With a working majority of more than 90 (thanks to his new-found friends in the DUP), the result was never seriously in question. And despite some uncomfortable Tory abstentions and criticism, the eventual majority of 77 may even reassure the PM he’s in a strong position.‌But the wider issue is just what damage is he doing to his own reputation, to that of his MPs, his party and his country in the process? Moreover, it’s difficult to see just how the bill’s “nuclear option” of breaking international law helps with his negotiations with Brussels, or even how he sells any eventual collapse in talks.Ed Miliband certainly took lumps out of Johnson in his opening speech for the Opposition, ridiculing the PM for not having read either his own Brexit deal or his own break-the-law bill. His best line was about ‘the Johnson Rule’: “one rule for the British government, another rule for this government..pioneered by Cummings, implemented by Johnson”.Miliband perhaps missed a trick however in not citing Johnson’s own words back at him from 2018, when he wrote in the Telegraph of Theresa May’s own deal: “Of all the lies that are currently being peddled, the worst is that this agreement can somehow be remedied in the next stage of the talks”.Still, it was obvious from the PM’s grumpy demeanour that he didn’t enjoy the barbs lobbed his way from the shadow business secretary (standing in for Keir Starmer): “For the first time in his life, it is time to take responsibility. It is time to ’fess up: either he was not straight with the country about the deal in the first place, or he did not understand it.”Johnson’s ‘oven ready’ deal was indeed roasted by Miliband. But despite political Twitter breaking into adulaton last seen during Milifandom (remember how much the public really cared about that?), it was actually the speech by Tory 1922 committee vice chairman Sir Charles Walker, one of the abstainers, that ought to worry No.10.‌Walker first attacked the “profoundly un-Conservative” idea of net curtain twitchers being encouraged to inform on neighbours’ minor breaches of lockdown (because “granny has followed grandad into a family home of five”). But he also warned the PM that backbenchers were sick of being taken for granted.In a clear reference to Dominic Cummings’ dripping contempt for many Tory MPs, Walker said: “We are all Members of Parliament and we deserve to be taken seriously.” And although the PM has long lost any real capacity to be embarrassed or feel shame about anything, many of his MPs do not like to be made fools of. Those who tried to defend their government - over the A-levels fiasco, Cummings’ eye-sight test drive, over the Brexit deal itself or free school meals plans - feel unloved and unconsulted.Today, neither Johnson nor Michael Gove, who wound up the debate, seemed to take those concerns seriously. Johnson suggested that ministers would allow a Commons vote on any powers they took to break the law, though No.10 sources seemed as unclear as he was about what was actually in the legislation. Gove said that rebel Bob Neill was “onto something” but failed to specify how he would remedy that “something”.As it happens, many experts believe that Neill’s own amendment is badly drafted and so any government compromise could help both sides out over the next week, before the crunch vote is held in Committee Stage.The wider issue is the political capital burned up by this whole row. Charles Walker is not alone in being genuinely baffled by the government’s tactics of late on a range of issues from possible tax rises to planning reforms. Not for nothing is the newest Tory backbench WhatsApp group called ‘wtfisgoingon?’There was no greater illustration of that today when HuffPost revealed that shooting and hunting would be among the exempt activities on the Covid ‘Rule of Six’. Gove had actually thought this was so important that he had scheduled a meeting on Saturday with one item on the agenda for the all-powerful Covid Operations committee: “exemption: shooting/hunting”.Several Tory MP got in touch with me today to question on what planet that was a real priority for Cabinet minister. You can have Christmas with your grandparents after all - just make sure you all go on a pheasant shoot on a country estate. Not exactly a Red Wall reassuring message, especially when Johnson was said to have “de-snobbified” the Tory brand among working people.But the real “WTF is going on?” question should centre on growing test-and-trace failures. The most shocking news today was that there were no tests available - walk-in, drive-through, home kits - for any of the people in Bolton, Salford, Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside or Manchester. And these are supposed to be the areas getting test priority.If Starmer is still in isolation on Wednesday, it may fall to deputy Angela Rayner (a Greater Manchester MP) to get her teeth into Johnson at PMQs. I’d be amazed if rows over Brexit amendments made it into Labour’s attack lines then. And if the PM fails to show any humility again, or fails to have some answers, his own MPs really will have reason to ask what the hell is going on in No.10. Quote Of The Day“If you keep whacking a dog, don’t be surprised if it bites you back.”Tory backbencher Sir Charles Walker Monday Cheat SheetA raft of Tory MPs abstained on the second reading of the Internal Market Bill. But the government won the vote with a majority of 77 by 340 to 263.Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said people “should” ring the 111 police line if they spot neighbours breaching the ‘rule of six’ limits that came into force from midnight Sunday.Labour leader Keir Starmer is self-isolating at home after a member of his family reported possible coronavirus symptoms.Starmer will tell the TUC (via video link) on Tuesday that the Tories must outlaw controversial “fire and re-hire” working practices and act to avoid the “scarring effect” of mass unemployment with a replacement for the furlough jobs scheme.The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said he was rebuked for arguing strongly in favour of imposing Covid lockdown restrictions earlier this year, a BBC freedom of information request revealed. What I’m ReadingCanada Reports Zero Covid Deaths - Reuters
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Do you remember the Boris Johnson who loved animals? I know an hour is a long time in politics these days but during last year’s leadership and general election campaigns, our would-be emperor was dressing in almost vegan clothes. He promised again and again that he would promote “animal welfare” as prime minister.As an animal welfare activist I follow the issues closely, and this was the first time I’d heard the leader of a major party speak so enthusiastically about the plight of animals. He seemed to confirm his commitment in his first speech as prime minister when he said: “Let’s promote the welfare of animals that has always been so close to the hearts of the British people”.It seems he meant the opposite. Today, his government announced new rules that exempt grouse shooting and other cruel ‘sports’ from the ‘rule of six’ coronavirus restrictions. As of today, you can’t have a five-a-side kickabout in the park with your friends, but groups of up to 30 can go hunting with guns.This mind-boggling exception comes only days after it was revealed that a Tory council has bailed out a group of fox hunters with £50,000 of public funds. With so many people killed by coronavirus and many more struggling with no government help at all, again and again this Tory government shows see where their priorities lie.Perhaps I was naïve but I did hope Johnson would stick to his commitment to help animals... But they say a leopard doesn’t change his spots.Perhaps I was naïve but I did hope Johnson would stick to his commitment to help animals. After all, his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, is a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation and has been described as a “passionate animal rights defender”.But they say a leopard doesn’t change his spots, and Boris’s real position on animal welfare has been clear for a long time. In a 2005 article for The Spectator, he said he “loved” hunting with dogs, partly because of a “semi-sexual relation with the horse” and the “military-style pleasure” he derived from the experience.Writing about the former Labour government’s ban on fox hunting, the old Etonian said it was “not about cruelty” to animals but “a Marxian attack” on the upper classes. He described the ban as “tyrannical” and “revolting”. He has supported animal abuse overseas, too. At a 2017 dinner to celebrate Anglo-Spanish relations, he said that Spain’s partial ban on bullfighting was “political correctness gone mad”.Little wonder, then, that he reverted to type once he’d settled into Number Ten. He described veganism as a “crime against cheese lovers” and has already dropped his electoral promise not to import chlorinated chicken after Brexit. Now, amid a spike of Covid-19 infections and job losses, he’s spending his time making up special loopholes for hunters.Johnson's done this so often now, to people and animals alike, I wonder if this is what he thinks animal equality means.During the national lockdown, it was one rule for Dominic Cummings and another for the rest of us. This time, the exemption will be for Johnson’s hunting pals. There is a crossover: Sir Humphry Wakefield, father-in-law of Cummings, allows shoots on his Chillingham Castle estate in Northumberland, and has reportedly said: “I love shooting, hunting”. What an absolute bunch they are.We shouldn’t be surprised that Johnson feels an affinity with stuck-up twits who ride roughshod over everything, stray onto private land and knock things over without really noticing let alone caring. This is how he lives his life. Even on his summer holidays he didn’t think there would be a problem when he pitched his tent in someone else’s field.Neither should we be surprised that another set of promises he made to get his way have now been dropped. To hell with the vulnerable beings he pledged to protect. He’s done this so often now, to people and animals alike, I wonder if this is what he thinks animal equality means. He just lies about everything.Chas Newkey-Burden is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at @allthatchasRelated... Shooting And Hunting Exempt From Covid 'Rule Of Six' Ban Here's WTF Is Going On In The Latest Big Brexit Row Boris Johnson To Make Surprise Speech In Bid To Subdue Tory Brexit Rebellion
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Brexit is very much back on the agenda and it’s all feeling a bit 2019, with Tories rebelling against Boris Johnson and a big parliamentary showdown looming.This being Brexit, the substance of the row over the Internal Market Bill is also quite complicated.Here’s everything you need to know.What is the government doing?The government’s Internal Market Bill contains a highly controversial section that seeks to give UK ministers, and UK ministers alone, powers to go back on parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement (WA) Johnson agreed with the EU last year.The WA triggered the standstill transition period which the UK and EU now find themselves in until December 31, when Brussels rules will largely no longer apply here unless agreed otherwise.It also dealt with the so-called “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights, and the thorny issue of maintaining an invisible land border between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (in the EU), as physical frontier posts were a target for attacks during the Troubles.The WA did this by making Northern Ireland follow EU rules in some areas where the rest of the UK would not, creating the need for some checks between the province and the British mainland (instead of north and south on the island of Ireland).Despite proclaiming the deal “oven ready” during December’s election, the prime minister now wants to take powers to go back on key sections of the WA and give the UK the ability to decide how key aspects of trade in Northern Ireland work.Why does Boris Johnson want to go back on his own Brexit deal? This is where things get complicated, but stay with us.Downing Street insists the Bill is simply a “safety net” to govern key areas of trade in Northern Ireland if the UK and EU cannot agree how it will work through the so-called joint committee set up by WA.Talks in the joint committee have been going on all year, led by Michael Gove on the UK side and Maros Sefcovic on the EU side, but they have failed to agree so far.In the event of those talks failing to reach a conclusion, the UK wants to use the Bill’s powers to decide on its own what constitutes state aid – government subsidies for businesses or industries in Northern Ireland – and therefore must be notified to Brussels.This Bill also gives ministers powers to disapply the need for exit summary declarations (as required under EU customs code) for goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The government has argued it needs to bring in the measures to ensure Northern Ireland is not cut adrift from the rest of the UK. It also fears that the EU could use state aid rules that apply to the province to bind the government’s hands across the whole UK.But some have questioned whether it could be a negotiating tactic with negotiations on a big overarching trade deal stalled.And there have also been suggestions that Johnson is trying to correct mistakes he himself made in the rushed negotiations by signing up to the WA without being fully aware of its consequences.Why are people angry?Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis was forced to admit last week the Bill does “break international law”.It has sparked a Tory backlash and all five of the UK’s living former prime ministers have now sharply criticised the government."Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way."Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis says the UK's plan for possible changes to the Withdrawal Agreement would go against international law but that "there are clear precedents" to do so. pic.twitter.com/9IsJf40jVV— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 8, 2020Much of the concern centres around the UK’s global reputation for upholding the rules.Critics argue that going back on a deal signed just eight  months ago would imperil this reputation, and could damage the economy because the UK is a leader in sectors from accounting to finance to law precisely because it is trusted to follow the rules.There are also deep concerns that it could undermine the UK’s foreign policy when it is trying to hold aggressive states like Russia, China and Iran accountable to international law.But does it break the law?The government’s line has since evolved, with justice secretary Robert Buckland insisting that international law would only be broken if the powers in the Bill, which he described as an “insurance policy”, are actually used by ministers.According to the Institute for Government even if the powers in the Bill are not used, simply passing the legislation through parliament would breach Article 4 of the WA, which requires the UK to give full legal effect to that deal.On ministers’ powers, the IfG’s Raphael Hogarth has written: “However, unless the powers were actually used, the UK would not be in breach of the state aid and customs provisions of the Northern Ireland protocol.“The Bill is nevertheless concerning: it breaches international law, lays the ground for much more extensive breaches of international law, and tries to insulate ministers from judicial scrutiny at home.”"If I see the rule of law being broken in a way that I find unacceptable then of course I will go," says Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, about the government’s internal market bill which could breach international law#Marrhttps://t.co/Qoevttrfzepic.twitter.com/9vawyPqPmG— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 13, 2020 How has the EU reacted?Not well. It has given Johnson an end-of-the month deadline to drop the legislation or face the potential of negotiations on a trade deal collapsing due to the loss of “trust”.Meanwhile, the rising tensions spilled over into a very public Twitter spat between the UK and EU’s chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier over food imports, although No.10 has blamed Brussels for starting the row. 1/7 I would like to make a few comments and state a few facts, in my capacity as the PM's negotiator in the current and last autumn's talks. https://t.co/qJ2hGUf5RM— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) September 13, 2020 So is the prime minister going to lose in the Commons?One Tory told HuffPost UK there were “definitely more than 40 angry” Tories who could join Labour in voting against the government’s wishes, putting the PM at risk of a first Commons defeat since December’s election.Rebels are coalescing around an amendment proposed by senior Tory and Commons justice committee chair Bob Neill, which would give MPs a veto over powers in the Bill coming into force.But some hardened opponents of the plans do not even believe that amendment, to be voted on next week, goes far enough.One Tory predicted as many as 20 to 30 Tories could oppose the Bill outright at second reading, its first Commons stage, on Monday night.A further 20 could abstain, they suggested, putting the Bill at risk of defeat in its first vote.But other observers feel many rebels will largely keep their powder dry until next week’s vote on Neill’s amendment, and possibly others.If the DUP backs the government, as seems likely given that the Bill is designed to ensure Northern Ireland remains closer to the rest of the UK than envisaged in the WA, it will make it harder for the rebels to win.And don’t rule out a government compromise if the rebellion continues to grow.Johnson has already been holding talks with unhappy MPs and will address the Commons on Monday in a surprise appearance.If the carrot doesn’t work, the PM may turn to the stick and make rebelling an offence punishable with sacking from the Conservative Party, as he did with 21 Tories last year. Related... Boris Johnson To Make Surprise Speech In Bid To Subdue Tory Brexit Rebellion David Cameron Becomes Fifth Former PM To Slam Law-Breaking Brexit Plan Justice Secretary Suggests He Could Quit If UK Breaks Law Over Brexit
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Boris Johnson is facing a fresh row over his new coronavirus “rule of six” curbs after it emerged that the government has exempted grouse shooting and other “hunting” with guns from the restrictions.Pro-hunting and shooting groups can continue to hold gatherings of between six and 30 people because they are covered by a loophole that permits licensed “outdoor activity”.New regulations published by the government for England just before midnight on Sunday have a string of exemptions for sports clubs, wedding receptions and even political protests.But they also have an exemption for when “a gathering takes place outdoors (whether or not in a public outdoor space)” for the purpose of “a physical activity which is carried on outdoors”, where a licence, permit or certificate is held by the organiser.HuffPost UK has learned that the Cabinet Office’s special Covid-19 Operations ministerial committee – chaired by Michael Gove – scheduled a meeting on Saturday, with one agenda item titled: “Exemption: hunting and shooting.”The meeting was abruptly cancelled just hours beforehand, with cabinet ministers and officials told that this issue would be discussed later or via ministerial correspondence.Insiders believe that the meeting was axed to avoid any ministers raising objections.Instead, the “outdoor activity” wording was inserted into the regulations, opening the way for an exemption for so-called “country sports” such as grouse and pheasant shooting and hunting.One source said the entire issue held up the publication of the regulations until shortly before the new law was due to kick in at midnight on Sunday.Brand new government guidance published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Monday lists “shooting (including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate license)” as a “sport or organised outdoor activity”.It appears that foxhunting may not be exempted, but the current position is unclear.When asked by HuffPost UK if the reference to “shooting (hunting)” included foxhunting, a spokesperson said “the exemptions are as listed in the guidance”.Former minister Tracey Crouch said: “Many will find this topsy-turvy prioritisation from government.“I’ve had queries about choirs, community bands, addiction therapy groups, all of whom would be worthy of an exemption and instead we are scrabbling around prioritising shooting animals. It’s bonkers.”Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard added: “Across the country, people are struggling to get COVID-19 tests anywhere near their homes.“But the Conservatives are distracted with trying to exempt the bloodsport passions of their big donors from coronavirus regulations. It shows where this government’s priorities really lie.“It is clear there’s one rule for the cabinet and their mates and another for the rest of us.”Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “The Government is giving the shooting industry carte blanche to continue its murderous activities despite the threat posed by gatherings during this awful pandemic.“The recent Government People and Nature Survey for England found that an increasing number of people (42%) are saying that nature and wildlife are more important than ever for their wellbeing – this government exemption flies in the face of that and condemns many animals to being shot for ‘sport’.“Lockdown offered animals a respite from the activities of hunters so we think the Government’s move to allow shooting is a backward step.”Much of the Tory party has long been proud of its links to hunting and shooting, believing it boosts rural communities with vital income, and has received donations from its advocates.Former Countryside Alliance chairman Simon Hart is now in Johnson’s cabinet as Welsh Secretary.Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who sits on the Covid-19 Operations committee, was this summer praising the work that grouse shooting can do for moorland.Delighted to recently join Rishi Sunak MP at Bolton Castle to show the many benefits of moorland mgmt for grouse. Rishi Sunak MP: “I learnt a huge amount about the importance of moorland mgmt & how it contributes to the astonishing range of wildlife that thrives on these moors." pic.twitter.com/pHvW4FjItC— Amanda Anderson (@MoorlandAssoc) July 17, 2018Johnson himself has written in the past that he “loved” foxhunting with dogs, once writing in the Spectator magazine of the “semi-sexual relation with the horse” and the “military-style pleasure” of moving as a unit.Sir Humphry Wakefield, father-in-law of the PM’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who has shoots on his Chillingham Castle estate in Northumberland, has said “I love shooting, hunting”.The party’s fundraising balls have frequently auctioned pheasant shooting events in Scotland. In 2017, one supporter handed over £15,000 for an eight-person excursion to shoot pheasants on a Scottish estate.However, several Tory MPs have long campaigned against foxhunting and other “blood sports”.Shooting – including grouse, pheasant and pigeon shooting and “recreational deer stalking” – was one of several activities permitted when lockdown was eased this summer, with no restrictions on how far people could travel to do so. Mask-wearing shooters were out in force for “the Glorious 12th”, the first day of the grouse shooting season in August.A UK Government spokesperson said: “We have exempted over thirty types of sport, exercise and physical activity such as football, rugby and other outdoor pursuits“Outdoor activity is safer from a transmission perspective, and it is often easier to social distance. Where such activities take place, safety measures must be taken including conducting a risk assessment and compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.”The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said in a statement last week: “The latest guidance says that there will be exceptions where groups can be larger than six, including work or voluntary services as well as outdoor sport and physical activity events.“BASC continues to press ministers for further detail but believes that these exemptions encompass shooting where shoots operate in accordance with Covid secure guidance issued by representative shooting organisations, including BASC.”The Countryside Alliance also said last week: “From our understanding at present businesses and organised sports operating in England to Covid secure standards will be exempt from the new restrictions on social gatherings.“Details to follow, but we are confident rural activities will be able to continue with current safeguards in place.”Related... Keir Starmer Self-Isolating After Household Member Shows Symptoms Of Covid David Cameron Becomes Fifth Former PM To Slam Law-Breaking Brexit Plan Boris Johnson To Make Surprise Speech In Bid To Subdue Tory Brexit Rebellion
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Boris Johnson will make a direct appeal to Tory rebels to back his “critical” Brexit plans despite them breaking international law.The prime minister’s proposals to give ministers the power to go back on key sections of the “oven ready” withdrawal agreement he negotiated and signed have sparked a major backlash from his own MPs.The rebels are threatening to derail Johnson’s Internal Market Bill, which comes to the Commons on Monday. One MP told HuffPost UK there were “definitely more than 40 angry” Tories who could join Labour in voting against the government’s wishes, putting the PM at risk of a first Commons defeat since December’s election.The PM has responded to the rebellion by choosing to open the debate on the Bill on Monday afternoon, instead of business secretary Alok Sharma, and to take questions from rebellious backbenchers.Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband will respond for Labour after Keir Starmer had to self isolate, after a member of his household showed symptoms of coronavirus.Johnson attempted to calm Tory rebels in a Zoom chat on Friday but the backlash has grown over the weekend, with ex-PM David Cameron and his former attorney general Geoffrey Cox sharply criticising the plans.The other living former prime ministers - Tories Sir John Major and Theresa May, and Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have also voiced opposition to the plans.Asked why the PM had decided to replace Sharma in opening the debate, his official spokesperson said: “It is a critical piece of legislation for the United Kingdom and as the prime minister has been doing over the course of the last week he will be setting that out to the House of Commons.”Rebels are coalescing around an amendment proposed by senior Tory and Commons justice committee chair Bob Neill, which would give MPs a veto over powers in the Bill coming into force.But some hardened opponents of the plans do not even believe that amendment, to be voted on  next week, goes far enough.One Tory predicted as many as 20-30 Tories could oppose the Bill outright at second reading, its first Commons stage, tonight.A further 20 could abstain, they suggested, putting the Bill at risk of defeat in its first vote.But other observers feel many rebels will largely keep their powder dry until next week’s vote on Neill’s amendment, and possibly others.Related... David Cameron Becomes Fifth Former PM To Slam Law-Breaking Brexit Plan UK And EU Negotiators Are Now Arguing About Brexit On Twitter Justice Secretary Suggests He Could Quit If UK Breaks Law Over Brexit
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Keir Starmer is self-isolating after a member of his household showed symptoms of coronavirus. A spokesperson for the Labour leader said the family member has had a test and that Starmer is following guidance by self-isolating until results arrive. Starmer was alerted to the news just after finishing a session of Call Keir on LBC radio on Monday morning. He has not shown any symptoms of the disease and will be working from home, the spokesperson added. They said: “This morning Keir Starmer was advised to self isolate after a member of his household showed possible symptoms of the coronavirus.“The member of his household has now had a test. In line with NHS guidelines, Keir will self-isolate while awaiting the results of the test and further advice from medical professionals.”The prime minister’s official spokesman said that Boris Johnson has spoken with Starmer on Monday morning and offered him his best wishes. Starmer had been due to speak in the Commons in a debate on the government’s controversial internal markets bill.Five former prime ministers have spoken out about the legislation, which effectively breaks international law because it unpicks parts of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) negotiated by Boris Johnson last year and gives UK ministers key powers to decide when EU rules apply to Northern Ireland.Related... Will New Trade Union Bosses Help Keir Starmer Or Hinder Him? Jacob Rees-Mogg Self-Isolating After Child Develops Coronavirus Symptoms Boris Johnson Warns Against Large Gatherings – Minutes After Meeting '50 MPs'
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Template for post-Brexit bilateral deals excludes algorithmic disclosures too The UK and Japan have agreed to a new trade deal that will see the two nations to share a “free flow of data” across their borders.…
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When Keir Starmer held a Zoom call with a clutch of Britain’s biggest trade union general secretaries this summer, the mood was one of warm solidarity. Starmer had impressed the unions with his harrying of the government over the A-levels fiasco, but he made clear his priority was coronavirus and the threat of mass unemployment.Union bosses fed back stories from the coalface, with real worries on health and safety and employers gearing up to make redundancies. The meeting agreed a joint focus on national campaigning to expose Boris Johnson’s plan to withdraw the furlough jobs support scheme this autumn. Starmer and the union “barons” were all on the same side.But the quiet efficiency of the meeting was in contrast to a wider unease and instability within the union movement. One of the big players, the GMB, had seen its general secretary Tim Roache forced out amid allegations of sexual harassment. Dave Prentis, the head of Unison, had announced he would step down after a marathon 20 years in post.And just over a week before the Zoom call, in a reminder of the bitter battles of Labour’s civil war in recent years, Unite’s Len McCluskey had issued a stark warning to Starmer: his union could pull funding and Labour could “go under” if it veered to the “right”. Starmer’s election was a “disappointment” for those like him who wanted Rebecca Long-Bailey to keep the Corbyn flame alive, McCluskey had said.With the election of the Unite leader’s successor set to start in 2021, and with similar contests taking place for Unison and the GMB, a new generation of general secretaries will be installed over the coming year. It’s a changing of the (old) guard that hasn’t been seen in decades, with all three of the biggest trade unions holding their elections within months of each other.As this week’s TUC will underline, the coronavirus pandemic and its focus on health and safety in the workplace has suddenly given unions more profile, influence and membership than in decades. So the looming change at the top three unions - which together have more than three million members - matters more than ever.A cultural shift could occur too, with three white men being possibly replaced by women, and two by union officials from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Although all the unions are campaigning to protect the jobs of their members right now, the under-the radar campaigns for the jobs of their general secretaries are also underway.But with their donations providing Labour’s dominant source of income, and with each holding key seats on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), the general secretary elections also matter hugely to Starmer. Each could usher in a new era under a ‘moderate’ or a more radical leadership. As one MP puts it: “He could end up with the strongest union support of any Labour leader since [Hugh] Gaitskell in the 1950s. Or he could end up with a nightmare.” GMBThe union with the biggest current problems is undeniably the GMB. The 622,000 members of the General, Municipal, Boilermakers’ and Allied Trade Union have seen not just their general secretary Tim Roache suddenly quit over allegations of misconduct.Just weeks ago, a damning independent report by QC Karon Monaghan found the union guilty of “institutional sexism”. Bullying and cronyism were huge problems too, fuelling a toxic, alcohol-fuelled culture that made women feel unsafe and unrecognised. Although women make up a growing number of its members, there is job “segregation” in the union with females in junior or admin roles and the officers almost all men.The controversies don’t just stop at sexual harassment. The union has also ordered a separate internal financial audit, a move approved by its executive last week. Minutes seen by HuffPost show that accountants PWC have been asked to investigate “GMB procurement, GMB political expenditure, the use of GMB corporate credit cards”.The executive also agreed to seek legal advice on whether it could ask staff whether they knew about a “lie detector test” that Roache agreed to when confronted with allegations of misconduct. Some in the union believe both exercises are a “fishing expedition” that will yield little, but others believe it could expose further deep-seated problems.The two main contenders for the general secretary vacancy are seen as Gary Smith, the Scottish regional secretary, and Rehana Azam, a national secretary with responsibility for public services.Smith has several friends among Labour MPs. It was he, and not Azam, who gave evidence on the impact of Covid before the Business Select Committee this year. Although he performed well, some eyebrows were raised within the union, as Azam is the union’s lead on the virus and is from a community hard hit by the pandemic.Smith is seen by his supporters as the kind of leader needed to steady the ship and put the workplace, rather than Westminster, at top of its priorities. “Decades ago, the GMB’s role was the traditional anchor for the party leadership, solid and reliable,” one MP says. “It hasn’t always been that dependable on the NEC in recent years and has played some of Unite’s silly games. Most regional secretaries, and their members, wanted Starmer for leader but the union ended up nominating Lisa Nandy.”One union insider points to the way Smith has fought against recent British Gas moves to sack and reemploy thousands of staff. “Gary is a hard-nosed industrial organiser, very clear about the industrial priorities of the union. The GMB would be much more ‘bottom-line’. Both he and Rehana are relatively young and would keep the union moving.”Azam’s supporters say she will be exactly the breath of fresh air the union needs in the wake of the sexism scandal. “Having a young, Bame woman would be great optics but more importantly she’s really good. She has a high level of emotional intelligence, something union leaders should have these days. She’s not interested in nepotism or tit-for-tat factionalism.”There is even recent speculation within the union that Smith could step aside and let fellow ‘moderate’ Kathleen Walker Shaw, a veteran official who was beaten by Roache in the last general secretary election, have another go at the top job.But Smith is seen as a strong contender precisely because the recent route to winning has been to build up a regional powerbase and then do deals with other regional bosses to get the most backing.“To understand the GMB you have to understand it really is a set of regional fiefdoms. The regions have the money and the power. You get your name in the regional magazine,” says one member. “Turnout can be abysmally low and a few thousand votes can swing it. And it is dominated by the white male, 40-65s who know the regional politics.”Amid its current internal chaos, with claim and counter-claim of bullying, the GMB executive has yet to decide a timetable for an election, but one is expected by the spring. UnisonEven if Azam fails to feminise the leadership of the GMB, over at Unison a woman is the favourite for the top job. Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary, has notched up more than 100 nominations so far.“The momentum is behind her. If she wins, Keir will continue to benefit from very close support from the union that really powered his leadership campaign,” one Starmer ally says.“But Keir is wisely staying completely out of it, he is a stickler for the rules and for realising that unions choose their general secretaries, not party leaders.”McAnea is far from a shoo-in, however. Up against her are Roger McKenzie, another assistant general secretary who has been endorsed publicly by Jeremy Corbyn, and fellow left-winger Paul Holmes, who has been endorsed by John McDonnell.“It can take just a few thousand people to win this, and none of the candidates really has big name recognition among the members,” one Unison insider said. “Christine is picking up most nominations but Roger getting the backing of Corbyn could prove significant. He breached a fundamental principle that MPs don’t try to interfere in union elections, but it could be effective.”In recent years, the Left has grown in influence in Unison. At least two regional secretaries in Unison are card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Even if McAnea wins, the executive elections next summer could shift Left from the current small majority for ‘moderates’, tying her hands, some say.Holmes, a veteran on Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire, is the wild card. He has talked of moving the union’s London HQ to the midlands. “No one should write off Paul Holmes. He’s Mr Unison up in Yorkshire, an old fashioned Left candidate,” one Unison insider said.There’s another reason that Holmes could do well. Unlike Labour party internal elections, which operate proportionally on an AV system of preferences, all trade union elections are still done on a first past the post basis. “He could come through the middle,” says one Unison old hand.Crucially, union elections have a much more left electorate than for Labour elections because they have members affiliated to other parties, like the SWP and others. “It’s not a Labour electorate,” a union expert said. “It’s impossible to really call who will win, it could be any one of the three.”Whoever wins the Unison general secretary job will want to cement its new position as the UK’s number one union, with a massive 1.4 million members, and the fastest growing in Europe.Its influence on Labour’s ruling NEC has grown, however, since Corbyn’s defeat. As well as its own two reps, the union’s Scottish official Johanna Baxter is a constituency rep, while former vice president Carole Sewell is the Bame rep.“Unison’s strength has seemed artificially low in the last few years because it was growing at the same time Unite got all the headlines,” one of its key figures said.“We have felt left out in recent years. We’ve got 1.3 million public sector workers, a huge pool of potential Labour voters that Keir needs, health and social care staff, bin workers, manual workers, all the people he has to win back in Red Wall seats.”UniteOf the three union races, however, the real potential banana skin for Starmer is Unite. After 10 years at the helm, with two re-elections to his name, Len McCluskey has dominated the union, with many admirers on the Left.One veteran said that McCluskey’s profile was so high that even some members of other trade unions think he’s their own general secretary.But his tenure coming to a close and the four main contenders expected to run are Steve Turner, Sharon Graham, Howard Beckett and Gerard Coyne.McCluskey has been repeatedly cryptic about his intentions but the latest intelligence from within the union is that he now wants to “go long” and serve out his full term which ends in April 2022. However, under union rules that ensure at least six months are needed for the election process, that would still mean the race starting next year.Some insiders think McCluskey has opted to give more time for Howard Beckett to build up his industrial base. Others believe that he simply wanted to put down a marker that he’s not a “lame duck” general secretary and can still have influence on national politics.Assistant general secretary Steve Turner, a former bus conductor and shop steward, is seen by many as the favourite. He recently won the vital endorsement of the United Left faction of the union, after a closely fought selection against Beckett another assistant general secreary.Turner was briefly a member of Militant and has a long record on the Left that make it all the more infuriating for his supporters when some Beckett supporters suggest he’s ‘right wing’ because he has shown a willingness to work with Starmer.A Millwall football fan who used to go to matches with the late RMT leader Bob Crow, Turner even at one point had a “MillwallMilitant” private email address.“Steve is a pragmatist. You can do a deal with Steve. A lot of people who organised for Len are backing Steve,” said one Unite insider, on condition of anonymity.“Moderate” flagbearer Coyne, a former West Midlands regional secretary, came within roughly 5,000 voters of defeating McCluskey in the last contest, a surprisingly close result that spooked many on the Left.But since then, union rules have changed so that any candidate has to win 152 local branches of the union to even stand. Turner will almost certainly cross the threshold, but others may struggle.The change infuriated some in the union. “The double standards of Unite’s leadership has been on show in their determination to raise the threshold for nominations needed from union branches for GS candidates, making it harder for anti-establishment candidates, while demanding Labour does the opposite for its leadership elections,” one long-time union and Labour insider said.Coyne supporters are confident he can meet the threshold. “If he can get the branch nominations, he’s got a good chance. He ran last time and name recognition matters.”Those who know Coyne point out that he puts the members first, even when it’s uncomfortable for Labour. When the Labour-run Birmingham council threatened 6,000 redundancies, Coyne was quietly asked to avoid making a fuss ahead of the local elections but refused to back down.One MP who thinks Coyne can win the Unite race says he has been smart so far not to launch a campaign. “Gerard is right to lie low for now and watch the Left just take lumps out of each other. First past the post [election], isn’t it?”Another figure with strong Labour and union links said change was overdue: “Unite as well has coasted for too many years on past glories, haemorrhaging members and failing to recruit sufficient new younger members in new sectors.“Too often the damage has been self-inflicted: Independent minded and effective officials and recruiters at Unite have been viewed as a political threat by the pro-Corbyn establishment and either bullied or paid to leave, further denuding the talent pipeline.“Several of the brightest and best were poached by steelworkers union Community which has recruited far more successfully in new areas, including the self-employed.”Sharon Graham is an outsider candidate whose supporters believe she can pull off a surprise victory.In July, she described herself as “the Workplace Candidate” focused on delivering an industrial programme. Though overwhelmingly of the Left, she already has support from some “moderate” activists who don’t share her politics but admire her organisational ability.Graham has made a name for herself with campaigns that included sending activists dressed as rats to protest against bosses. She benefits from a network of organisers who one ex-insider describes as “a union within union”.“She’s played it cannily so far. She decided not to run for the United Left because she knew that if she lost she would be out of the race completely,” a union official said. One active Unite member told HuffPost UK: “I’ll wager that when all is said and done and Len has resigned, the next general secretary of Unite, when the vote is held, will be Sharon Graham.” A split Left?But Beckett is the one candidate who could really cause Starmer a headache. Despite a traditional agreement that defeated candidates in the Unite Left selection then drop out of the race, Beckett has told the BBC he will run.He has however yet to formally launch any campaign and his supporters say he and all union officials should be focused on fighting Covid job losses rather than an election that has no vacancy yet.“He proved that he doesn’t act collectively, it’s all about him,” one left-wing critic says. “It’s going to be tough for him to get the branches because he has little institutional support within the union, particularly among industrial activists.“Even though he has a following on Twitter, many of those people aren’t actually in the union. You need to be known at branches, at combines [meetings] of convenors, of shop stewards, to get through to our members. The damage he could do to Steve is the real problem.”Beckett has previously run on a radical platform that appeals to some of both Corbyn and McCluskey’s supporters, including a “Unite TV” station that would be a left-wing alternative to Netflix and the BBC.Currently a member of the Labour NEC, he has often been vociferous in his criticism of Starmer. He has attacked the Labour leader for pushing for the reopening of schools and for his sackings of Rebecca Long-Bailey, Ian Lavery and Richard Burgon.In one tweet he warned Starmer and Boris Johnson against trying to “dump the pandemic fallout on the working class”.But disunity on the Left could be his biggest problem. Jane Taylor, a Unite rep who sits alongside Beckett on the NEC, tweeted at the time her dismay that a leftwing faction in Scotland had decided to reject the United Left result and instead back Beckett. “Very sad day for the left,” she said, adding there was no “a sense of betrayal”. The other problem for Beckett is that many of Unite’s executive committee are also members of United Left. Bad blood between Beckett and the United Left group was underlined in an exchange of letters seen by HuffPost UK following Turner’s victory.Beckett wrote that “it is very clear from the regional data alone that the rules of this election have been broken. Intentionally so.” In reply, United Left’s committee gave a 10-point rebuttal and criticised “your on-going refusal to accept the legitimate outcome of the ballot”.A solicitor from Northern Ireland, his critics in the union say he’s a millionaire with no history of its shop steward tradition. But Beckett has a valuable ally in Karie Murphy, Jeremy Corbyn’s former chief of staff and a close friend of McCluskey’s.Beckett’s hopes of getting on the ballot paper could rest with Unite Community, a section of the union set up by McCluskey to further its political ambitions. Membership is just £25 a year rather than £150 plus for traditional members and it has up to 10,000 members. “It’s Continuity Len, in many ways, and was the swing vote in 2017 in squeaking it for him. It could help Howard this time.”His conduct in some NEC meetings has been so antagonistic and his social media criticism of Starmer so strident, that there is even now discussion about a Code of Conduct to which all NEC members would have to sign up.“Howard thinks he’s the smartest lawyer in the room. And then Keir speaks, and you know who’s the smartest lawyer in the room,” said one NEC member.Some within the union believe its credibility was undermined when it opted to formally endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey in the Labour leadership race, even though plenty of Unite reps liked both Lisa Nandy and Starmer. In the end, Long-Bailey came third in the union section of the contest, while Starmer romped home with 53% of affiliates’ votes.One insider adds that the figures were even worse for McCluskey. Unite so dominates the affiliates that it has roughly 75% of the union section, so a 53% win for Starmer could only come from him realistically getting a majority of Unite members. “Keir won among Unite, not many people realise that,” one source said.In fact, Starmer could benefit hugely if he uses Unite members as a sounding board for his policies, not least because many of them live and work in those Red Wall seats he needs to regain. “Lots of our members read the Sun and the Mail and voted Brexit,” said one insider. “If Keir can listen to their concerns, he can help us claw back those seats from the Tories.”One senior Labour source said that Starmer could “live with” all of the general secretary candidates in all the union races. “Apart from Howard.” What next?Starmer’s immediate focus for Labour is on the anti-Semitism report due to be published by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. His allies within the party are also concentrating on internal elections for places on the ruling NEC, with nine constituency reps, disability, youth and Wales reps all up for grabs.He is firmly staying out of the union elections, even though some MPs will be working behind the scenes to help organise for some candidates.But whoever wins the three big union elections in 2021, their respective votes on the NEC could give Starmer a freer hand, or act as a brake on some of his plans.Some other unions think that Unite in particular needs to learn from recent months. One example of how the Left can overreach itself emerged recently during the row over the party agreeing to make out of court payouts to whistleblowers who took part in the BBC Panorama programme on anti-Semitism.A raft of NEC amendments was tabled on the Forde inquiry into a leaked document on the affair, and on some of them the leadership was ready to engage. But when leftwing activists issued a legal letter to try to stop the NEC approving the payouts, the leadership promptly decided to vote down every single amendment.“This is where they are getting it wrong,” said one key trade union figure. “They can’t dictate terms to the party leader. Keir’s people become more entrenched and the Left won’t get a majority for any of what they want. It’s just not smart politics. We on the Left have to be smarter.”Another veteran union activist said the heavy defeat for Labour at the last election could not be forgotten quickly.“There’s a Tory government with a majority of 80. Len put all his money on a radical Corbyn government and that’s gone. The new GSs [general secretaries] have to secure the best deal for their members now and focus on the workplace, not Westminster,” they said.“There are Tory MPs now who have big union memberships in their seats so they have to do business with them on a daily basis. Johnson says he wants to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing and industries like defence and steel are heavily unionised so can have an impact.”One leftwing member of the NEC said that getting Starmer, and Labour, elected in 2024 had to be the basic principle that united all unions.“If Steve [Turner] wins, I think he’ll get a relationship with Keir that will be similar in many ways to Len’s with Ed Miliband: very supportive, with public endorsements that are helpful to both sides.“Although he won’t obviously agree with everything the leader does, just as Len didn’t with Ed, he will publicly say [as McCluskey did] ‘this is the prime minister this country needs’.“Steve’s very left wing and will fight hard, it’s a joke for anyone to claim he’s some kind of centrist. But he knows his prime job is representing members while at the same time getting a Labour government. And Labour needs to win.”A few weeks ago, McCluskey signalled that he wasn’t ready to give up his broader ambitions for Labour’s direction. “People have to brush themselves down, but the reports of the Left’s death are greatly exaggerated,” he said.One senior former party insider puts it another way. “It was 19 years ago, after 9/11, when Tony Blair said the kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux. That’s what it’s like right now with the union leaderships. Who knows where the pieces are going to end up?”Related... Starmer Critic Beckett Loses Bid To Succeed Len McCluskey Spitting Image Unveils Unmistakable Puppets Of Michael Gove And Dominic Raab Ahead Of New Series GMB Union 'Institutionally Sexist', Independent Report Concludes
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Muslim NHS workers have revealed the disgraceful Islamophobia they face from their own patients, with taunts about being “terrorists” and being told “go back to your own country”.HuffPost UK joined forces with the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) for a flagship survey of more than 100 Muslim medics about the Islamophobia they experienced at work.In the first part of our investigation, we looked at the institutional Islamophobia Muslim medics face from bosses and colleagues within the NHS. Related... Exclusive: Muslim Medics Taunted About Bacon And Alcohol – By Their Own NHS Colleagues  But many Muslim healthcare staff have admitted they regularly face Islamophobic abuse from patients, too, with some refusing to be treated by Muslim doctors at all and others bringing up terrorism or even accusing them of killing people.A startling 80% of Muslim medics surveyed by HuffPost UK revealed they had experienced Islamophobia or racism from patients in the NHS.Shehla Imtiaz-Umer, a GP in Derby, says it isn’t just abuse from patients that is upsetting – it’s also situations when colleagues don’t stand up for her, or ask if she “misunderstood” what happened.Once, working a night shift as part of her training, she was asked to speak to a cancer patient at the end of his life.“We knew he was going to die and resuscitation would be futile,” she told HuffPost UK. “However, he and his family decided they wanted full resuscitation. I was asked to speak to him and his family, but by the time I got there, his family had gone.”As soon as he saw her enter the bay wearing her headscarf, the patient – who was in his 60s – told Imtiaz-Umer he didn’t want to talk to her. He said: “Your religion is about killing people and mine is about saving lives.”Imtiaz-Umer said: “It was awful. I was upset and disgusted that someone could have such a viewpoint.“But I was also offended. I was a Muslim doctor working a night shift and my whole purpose for becoming a medic was to save and improve lives.“But his perception based on seeing my hijab was that I wanted to do the opposite.”His words were: ‘Your religion is about killing people and mine is about saving lives.’Shehla Imtiaz-Umer, a GPShe admitted: “I knew I would cry if I stayed there so I had a sob off the ward.”But when she went to the staff room and shared her experience with colleagues, hoping for some words of comfort, she was stunned by their reaction.“There was just pin drop silence and no empathy from my white colleagues, which was disappointing,” she recalled. “They asked if I was sure that’s what the patient meant and said: ‘Maybe you misunderstood.’“I’m not saying my white colleagues are racist but I feel they don’t understand as they’ve never experienced it. I’ve been called a P*** most of my life. Their reaction spoke volumes.” As a graduate paramedic on the front line, Madiyah Bandali, 21 – who lives in Birmingham – says she faces a huge amount of Islamophobia from patients who lash out after seeing her hijab.“I’ve had patients say they don’t want to be treated by me because I am Muslim,” she said.“One patient asked: ‘What’s Osama Bin Laden’s daughter doing here?’ after seeing my hijab.“I get Islamophobic remarks at least once a week. It’s worse when something has happened and Islam is in the news.“People make terrorist comments and tell me: ‘Go back to your own country.’ Most colleagues stick up for me. The most hurtful thing is when they don’t and tell me to grin and bear it.” One patient asked: ‘What’s Osama Bin Laden’s daughter doing here?’ after seeing my hijab.Madiyah Bandali, a graduate paramedicOnce, Bandali was treating a patient for a head injury after he’d been in a fight. “He said: ‘I don’t want a dirty P*** touching me,’ and tried to get violent. My mentor had to drag him away before I got hurt. It was really frightening.”Bandali admitted her parents have begged her to leave the NHS as they are worried she’ll get hurt. She describes herself as someone who is confident with little self-doubt, but confesses there have been times she has felt overwhelmed and close to giving up.“I sometimes questioned why I was putting myself through it,” she said. “I wanted to be a paramedic as I was interested in emergency medicine and wanted to be hands-on straight away and help save people.“But I had no idea I would face so many different challenges with Islamophobia.”Conversations instigated by patients about Muslims and terrorism make many Muslim NHS workers feel uncomfortable, as if they are being asked to defend their religion.Sabeeta Farooqi, a trainee GP in Leeds who wears a hijab, had a patient come to her with a urological issue when he suddenly began asking her questions about bombings and terrorism.“The conversation came out of nowhere and I tried to get him back to his clinical problem and reminded him that’s why he was there,” she said. “I avoided his questions as I didn’t want a confrontation.”The patient then asked Farooqi if she was OK with “examining his private parts” as she was a Muslim woman. “I told him I was a clinician and he was a patient and I was happy to examine him.” The GP partner at the practice was supportive and asked if Farooqi wanted the patient removed from the register. “I said no as I didn’t feel right taking him off the list because of this incident,” she said. “But it left a big impact on me and I realised I was viewed differently because I was Muslim.”Kiran Rahim, 34, a paediatric registrar working in London, says during her training she was taught to say: “I’m sorry you feel that way,” when subjected to abuse from patients.“It was very much a view of: ‘The patient is always right,’” she said. “But I did not feel comfortable apologising for someone’s Islamophobia.“As I’ve become more senior, I have realised NHS staff are not here to be abused. I now simply tell patients I don’t have to stand for their abuse or treat them.”Ramsha Hanif, 27, a pharmacist in Derbyshire, agrees. She had a customer who would constantly ask her about her religion and ethnicity and tell her that her name wasn’t “very English”.On one occasion, he asked her what her name was. When she answered, he replied: “No, it’s not, it’s ‘naan bread’!”Hanif said: “He kept shouting it but I just ignored him.”But when the customer came in the following time, he called Hanif “naan bread” again. “I told him I wasn’t doing his prescription but could direct him to another pharmacy,” she said.“I stayed professional but realised I didn’t have to put up with it. I wasn’t really upset by it, but he had no right to call me that and I knew I had to take a stand.”Medical student Khadija, 21, says Islamophobia from patients can be subtle as well as overt. “I’ve had occasions such as standing in a group of two medical students and asking a patient a question, only for them to address my white colleagues or tell me they don’t want to speak to me,” she said.“Or they say things like: ‘You people have such difficult names,’ and question your ancestry, and make you feel different and alien.” I never let my armour down and let patients know they’ve got to me. But I might go home and have a cry after a bad experience.Khadija, a medical studentSome days, Khadija admits going home after a day of placements having experienced “horrible Islamophobia” can make her feel she isn’t welcome or deserving of being a doctor.“I’m a resilient person and regardless of how bad things get, I never let my armour down and let patients know they’ve got to me. But I might go home and have a cry after a bad experience.”One 40-year-old male consultant has now left the NHS and moved abroad and told HuffPost UK the Islamophobia he and his family faced in the NHS and wider society was a factor.One patient who had an appointment with him told his secretary he didn’t want to see a Muslim doctor and instead wanted to see a Christian one. “The secretary was shocked and said it was unacceptable,” he said.“My line manager was supportive and it was addressed immediately. They wrote to the patient explaining the diversity and equality act and how he wasn’t able to choose the doctor he saw.”The patient came in for his next appointment and the consultant treated him like every other patient and neither of them mentioned the issue.However, the patient then made a complaint about him, saying he’d not given proper time and attention to his issues – even though he’d spent 45 minutes seeing him rather than the 30-minute consultation time expected.“It was horrible,” admitted the consultant. “This patient categorically said he didn’t want to see me as I was Muslim.”He says that while Islamophobia in the NHS contributed to his decision to move abroad, it wasn’t the only reason. “Islamophobia wasn’t confined to the NHS,” he said. “The attitude to Muslims was getting worse in society. My wife had her hijab pulled from her head in the supermarket and had nasty comments made about her.”He added: “With the way things are propagated about Muslims, Islamophobia in the NHS is a consequence, not a cause.“My fear is for the younger generation of Muslims entering the NHS, particularly if they’re visibly Muslim.”A 35-year-old male nursing associate who works in Birmingham told HuffPost UK that, since Brexit, patients have become more vocal about Islamophobia.“So many times, I have been told to ‘go back to my country’ by patients,” he said. “Sometimes, they tell me I smell, and I have been called a P*** and terrorist so many times. “I was on one ward where a patient passed away and his family came and said: ‘You bloody P***. You killed our dad. Go back to your country.’ I hadn’t even looked after that patient. I was just on the ward.”If politicians, world leaders and MPs seem able to say such things, others feel it is normal to be Islamophobic and even actively encouraged.A senior registrar in emergency medicine told HuffPost UK: “People feel they can say what they want about Muslims as no one cares.“If politicians, world leaders and MPs seem able to say such things, others feel it is normal to be Islamophobic and even actively encouraged.”One doctor said Muslims in the NHS develop a thick skin. “One patient said: ’You must work for ISIS,′ and I told him: ‘No, I work for the NHS.’“If abuse gets out of hand, you just tell security. Physical aggression is taken more seriously than verbal Islamophobic or racist abuse.”Dr Salman Waqar, general secretary at BIMA, said: “Not to excuse their behaviour in any way, but it is often fuelled by the media narrative. If people are vulnerable and in pain, if they’ve been told foreign-looking or sounding people are not to be trusted, they can lash out.“There are a lot of horrible stories about the Islamophobia people in the NHS face from patients.”Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama – which supports victims of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate – told HuffPost UK they regularly receive reports of incidents of Islamophobia from health workers.“Muslim NHS staff put themselves at stake on the front line, but in return, they are facing discrimination on an almost daily basis,” she said.“Why should anyone as a human being be abused? Muslim people have a right to be doctors – and anything they want to be.”Related... Exclusive: Muslim Medics Taunted About Bacon And Alcohol – By Their Own NHS Colleagues Opinion: The Reality Of Islamophobia In The NHS Shocked Me In A Way I Wasn't Expecting This Young Woman Was Told To 'Go Back Home' For Using A Disabled Toilet ‘It Would Be Like Making A School Bully The Headteacher’: Blackburn's Muslim Community Face Up To Prospect Of Boris Johnson As Prime Minister
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Boris Johnson's party is growing restless amid widespread speculation that he could be replaced as prime minister before the next election.
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Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs he will not compromise on his plan to break international law over Brexit despite signs of a significant backbench rebellion, sources told HuffPost UK. The prime minister defended his controversial plans to take powers to renege on key sections of his own Brexit withdrawal agreement (WA) as talks on a trade deal with the EU enter a critical phase.Johnson also pleaded with MPs not to foster a return to the febrile atmosphere that engulfed parliament last year in the run-up to the December election and the UK’s subsequent exit from the EU in January.It comes as dozens of rebel Tory MPs line up to support veteran Bob Neill’s amendment to the Internal Market Bill next week, which is designed to introduce a parliamentary veto over Johnson’s controversial plans to go back on the WA.“We must not go back to the miserable, squabbling days of last autumn,” the PM told MPs in a Zoom conference call on Friday.He must be feeling a bit like Julian Assange in the embassyHe also hinted that the plans were part of a negotiating strategy to get a Canada-style trade deal with the EU in time for the end of the transition period on December 31“We must support our negotiating position in Brussels,” he said. MPs were split on Johnson’s performance, with one saying he did “very well” and remained “full square” behind the Bill.Others however noted the PM did not take questions and appeared to be reading from a script. Some MPs were locked out of the well-attended meeting due to restrictions on numbers.At one point, Johnson dropped out of the call due to a bad connection, which prompted arch Brexiteer Steve Baker to ask: “Shall I take over?”Theresa May, who was described as cracking jokes throughout the meeting, raised laughs when she replied: “No.”Flamboyant backbencher Michael Fabricant then helped fill the gap, which lasted a few minutes, by singing a verse of Rule Britannia. He had the words printed out on his desk, which he then showed to MPs.One MP quipped that Johnson was like a “prisoner of No.10 without decent wifi”, an apparent reference to chief aide Dominic Cummings’ influence in Downing Street.“He must be feeling a bit like Julian Assange in the embassy,” they added. Another said Johnson’s stance was “pure politics” and “part of the negotiation”.“The EU is playing rough and we are too,” they said.Related... Can Tory Rebels Really Stop Boris Johnson From Breaking International Law? Tory MP Says He's 'Not Willing To Live' Under Government's Covid Restrictions Ex-Tory Leader Michael Howard Blasts Boris Johnson's Plan To Break The Law
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Liz Truss, the UK trade secretary, hailed a 'historic moment' on Friday after speaking with Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's foreign minister.
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Muslim NHS workers have told HuffPost UK how Islamophobia is rife in the organisation, with their own colleagues making disgraceful comments and denying them opportunities to progress or even socialise.We teamed up with the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) for a flagship, in-depth survey of more than 100 Muslim health workers – one of the most significant of its kind.A shocking 81% revealed they had experienced Islamophobia or racism within the NHS, 69% felt it had got worse during their time at the organisation and more than half – 57% – felt Islamophobia had held them back in their career progression within the NHS.Many Muslims voiced a culture of “swallow it up” in the NHS, leaving people fearful of reporting Islamophobia in case of repercussions for their job or career progression.One Muslim female consultant said she felt that “you may as well flush your medical degree down the toilet” rather than reporting Islamophobia from a colleague or manager. She described the NHS as a “family which will close ranks to protect their own against those perceived as outsiders”.Being “visibly Muslim”, such as wearing a hijab or having a long beard, made it more likely for Muslim NHS workers to face Islamophobia. One woman said she stopped wearing the hijab as it was “like wearing a sign saying ‘kick me’.”Meanwhile, alcohol – forbidden in Islam – has been described as a “social glue” in the NHS, with many Muslims believing they have missed out on career and bonding opportunities because socialising outside work revolves around drink.And while there are many incidents of outright bullying and harassment, it is the subtle, more difficult to prove Islamophobia within the NHS that is the “most dangerous discrimination”, say Muslim healthcare workers.A staggering 43% admitted they had considered leaving the NHS because of Islamophobia.Our survey conducted in conjunction with BIMA had 133 respondents from all over the country working in various NHS roles including consultants, surgeons, GPs, pharmacists and medical students.One Muslim NHS worker said: “I think Islamophobia has increased in society at large and this is reflected in the NHS.”Dr Salman Waqar, general secretary at BIMA, told HuffPost UK: “It reflects a wider societal unease about religion and the way spirituality and belief is seen as a problem.“Some Muslims will not make a fuss because of fear of retribution. But making small compromises causes turbulence and unease internally.“This creates a sense of not belonging for Muslims in the NHS and biological weathering. They feel they have to put on their uniform, turn up for work and justify their existence to colleagues.”Dr Hina J Shahid, chair of the Muslim Doctors Association, said: “We see people celebrating diversity in all its forms in the NHS – but people generally don’t want to talk about religion. It is like a taboo subject.“Belonging to a religious group is almost seen as going against the scientific nature of being a doctor.”Hijabs“In the NHS, you realise there’s something about the hijab that really riles people,” says Kiran Rahim, a paediatric registrar in London. “People make assumptions about you. When people first see me, they presume I don’t speak English, or I have an accent.”She says judgements are made about women in hijabs and she is asked questions by colleagues like: “Does your husband make you wear that?” and “Do you wear your hijab when you shower?”“I would expect people I work with to be more clued up. I am as British as they come, but my religion is part of my identity.”Muslim women told HuffPost UK they were often perceived to be less educated due to wearing headscarves, and received backhanded compliments such as surprise at how well they spoke English – even when they were born and raised in the UK.Zineb Mehbali, 32, a registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology, believes a culture exists within the NHS where people are discriminated against for being different. She wears a hijab and experienced overt Islamophobia at one hospital when her locker was vandalised and had the word “hijab” scrawled across it. “I’m quite resilient, but there have been situations where I’ve cried at work,” she said. “When my locker was vandalised for being Muslim, it made me feel vulnerable but also very hurt as I knew a colleague had done that.”Many Muslim women told HuffPost Islamophobic attitudes to the hijab are hidden behind infection control. Even when they’ve been given permission to wear hijabs in theatre and wash them at the same temperatures as theatre caps, they are persistently challenged.Mehbali was once shouted at by a member of operating staff who described her as “a hazard to patient safety”. “She was really aggressive and intimidating and made me feel incredibly humiliated.” On another occasion, Mehbali was working on a labour ward wearing a clean hijab and scrubs when it emerged a CQC inspection was going to take place. A boss told her they would have to hide her away. “It made me feel like a blot on the landscape and was completely unacceptable.”Zineb admits her job in the NHS would be a lot easier if she didn’t wear a headscarf. “I feel I’ve had to work a lot harder, especially as I’ve moved up the ranks.“When you become a registrar or consultant, I feel it’s harder if you wear a headscarf. People have to take notice of you as their colleague.”Ramsha Hanif, 27, a pharmacist in Derbyshire, doesn’t ordinarily wear a headscarf but was shaken by a former manager’s reaction when he saw a photo of her wearing one.“He really stared at my driving licence photo then told me I looked scary,” Hanif said.“I thought he meant I had a stern expression. But after a while, he said: ‘It’s that thing,’ and told me the headscarf made me look scary.“I was shocked as no one had ever said anything like that before.”The manager then asked Hanif about the application she was filling in, asking: “It’s not to join ISIS is it?”Ramsha reported the issue. The manager began calling in sick, then officially retired, so no action was taken.Ramsha said: “What hurt most was his whole opinion of me changed from seeing one picture of me wearing a headscarf.”A female A&E doctor told HuffPost UK she wore a hijab for many years. She said that, while non-practising Muslims who went out drinking were seen as “one of the gang”, those considered “too orthodox or religious” were viewed as a problem.At one hospital, a Hindu colleague warned her consultants and registrars were saying Islamophobic things behind her back. But he was unwilling to go on record for fear of repercussions. “It was not about being brown – it was Islamophobic,” she said. I’ve gone as far as saying I’m agnostic and am from the Indian subcontinent. If I reveal my identity as Muslim or Pakistani, I know I’ll be treated differently.The A&E doctor revealed she has become less open about her faith throughout her career and no longer wears a hijab or tells people she is Muslim. “I’ve gone as far as saying I’m agnostic and am from the Indian subcontinent,” she admitted. “If I reveal my identity as Muslim or Pakistani, I know I’ll be treated differently.“There are Islamophobes within the NHS who are intelligent enough to hide their hatred of Muslims under other guises such as picking on a doctor’s professionalism.“As a Muslim, you have to work twice as hard and never make any mistakes as you know they’ll be magnified.” People now openly make Islamophobic remarks in front of her, not realising she is a Muslim. “It’s really opened my eyes to the horrifying Islamophobia that exists in the NHS,” she said.But she added: “Wearing a hijab in the NHS was like wearing a sign saying ‘kick me’,” she said. “I just don’t have room in my life for that kind of stress.”Sabeeta Farooqi, 36, a trainee GP in Leeds, who is from Pakistan, recalls a sign on a board while she was taking a medical exam allowing her to practice in this country that read: “If you wear a face covering, it’s very unlikely any NHS employer will give you a job.”Khadija, 21, a medical student in Bristol, was told by her mentor, a Muslim GP, that if she wanted to get far in medicine, she really needed to remove her hijab. “I was shocked,” said Khadija. “She was trying to warn me of the difficulties that lay ahead. But I didn’t want to feel forced to choose between my religious and cultural identity and my career aspirations.“I’m not going to stop wearing the hijab because other people have a problem with it. That’s their issue, not mine.”Even at this early stage of her medical career, Khadija has witnessed the impact Islamophobia has. “Unfortunately, I know a couple of medical students who have been badly affected by Islamophobia,” she said. “One has left the course and completely foregone a career in medicine. The other has removed the hijab, stopped practising her religion and lost contact with her family.”I’m not going to stop wearing the hijab because other people have a problem with it. That’s their issue, not mine.Khadija, a medical student in BristolShahid has been researching the effects of Islamophobia on Muslim doctors and says women are at greater risk of discrimination.“If Muslim women wear a headscarf, they stand out as being different and are more likely to feel discriminated,” she said.“Many have reported feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. This affects their future choices. If they have a negative experience in a hospital setting, they’re more likely to choose a non-hospital setting or even leave the NHS.” ‘Just banter’ – terrorists, bombs and baconSometimes Islamophobia in the NHS is subtle and discreet and hidden under the guise of “banter”, many Muslims told HuffPost UK.When Mahdiyah Bandali, now a graduate paramedic in Birmingham, first began working for the ambulance service, she noticed the lack of diversity and realised she was the only hijab-wearing woman. “The first time I walked into an ambulance station, there was an attitude of: ‘What are you doing here?’ – I stuck out like a sore thumb.”Colleagues would ask: “Why do you wear that?”, “Do men control your life?” or even: “Will you get married off after you graduate and not work?”During Ramadan at one ambulance placement, Mahdiyah recalls colleagues eating bacon sandwiches in front of her while taunting her: “Are we breaking your fast?” or urging: “Go on, eat a piece of bacon.”Madiyah would be greeted jokingly when entering an ambulance station with: “Here she comes! What kind of bomb have you got for us today?”She said: “While I laugh it off, I can see how other people might find it offensive or how it could lead to them leaving the NHS. At the end of the day, it’s a type of bullying.”One hospital doctor told how he was carrying a lot of bleepers when a colleague said: “You look like a suicide bomber.”Many Muslims say a lot of Islamophobia goes under the radar. “It wouldn’t be admissible in a tribunal as it’s subtle undermining which happens on a daily basis,” said one doctor. “There is plenty of racism affecting people from all BAME backgrounds, but there is a specific anti-Muslim agenda among some NHS colleagues.”One hospital doctor told how he was carrying a lot of bleepers when a colleague said: “You look like a suicide bomber.”Many Muslims in the NHS keep quiet when it comes to reporting Islamophobia, for fear of repercussions or impacting career progression. Paediatric registrar Kiran Rahim said: “Medicine is very hierarchical and the people you complain to may also be the ones responsible for your progress. So many Muslims keep the peace and don’t feel empowered to pursue discrimination further.”One worker said in the survey: “The NHS pays lip service to diversity and racism but in reality has no interest in addressing these problems genuinely and just wants to appear to be doing the right thing.”Prayers “Praying for a practising Muslim is like food and water,” says Emma Wiley, a microbiology consultant in London. “It is a necessity, something they need to do.”But many Muslims face barriers to praying at work in the NHS. Emma, 38, was told she couldn’t pray in an empty office and had to use the main prayer room.“When you’re a busy medic, time is very poor. Walking to another place takes time,” she said. “Not allowing me to use this empty room for five minutes to pray seemed unnecessarily obstructive.” On another occasion, Emma was praying in a cloakroom when a laboratory scientist “with his face full of rage” told her to find an alternative place to pray.One Muslim NHS worker revealed he wasn’t allowed to go to the prayer room at his hospital as it would “take too much time to walk there”. He also wasn’t allowed time off during Ramadan or allowed to operate while fasting.Another doctor described how he was constantly bleeped during prayer time and asked: “Doesn’t your God know you have jobs to do?”Medical student Usman, 25, who lives in Glasgow, told HuffPost UK he was given permission to be regularly late to class to attend Friday prayers – yet would be hauled up and asked why he was late almost every week.“I feel a lot of it stems from a lack of understanding,” he said. “Many people in the NHS – particularly consultants who supervise students – believe medicine comes first and everything else second.“They cannot understand why anyone would put their religion before their medical classes.”Alcohol and career progressionClimbing the ladder in the NHS often occurs through social cohesion, which involves drinking in pubs, several respondents said. One explained: “Alcohol is a social lubricant and many Muslims are left out of career progression as we avoid places associated with the sale and consumption of alcohol.”A female Muslim doctor said she was bullied mercilessly by two other doctors after she declined to sit at a table where alcohol was served. “They began picking on me. Their biggest issue was the fact I didn’t drink.“It was horrendous. They refused to teach me, and spread rumours about me. One told me I wasn’t cut out to be a doctor and to give up.“They were very devious and made me feel it was all in my head. It was like gaslighting.”A Muslim doctor in emergency medicine heard a fellow trainee frequently bragging about opportunities he’d gained while drinking in the pub with a consultant.Waqar from BIMA said: “Alcohol is a huge part of British culture, but for the majority of Muslims it’s not permissible. When it comes to career progression, that can be difficult.“A lot of career progression and mentoring in the NHS takes place outside the work environment. Awards events often happen in places where alcohol is served.“If you’re a person who feels uncomfortable being at a table with alcohol, you’ll feel conflicted. Some might not go, so miss out.”It’s not just alcohol that leads to Muslims in the NHS missing out on progression. Mehbali says, when she was training, she wasn’t given the same opportunities as white colleagues.“There were times at training opportunities when white people more junior than me were allowed to operate and I wasn’t.“Even though I was competent and knew how to do the procedure, I wasn’t allowed to do the things my peers were doing. “I spent eight months with a particular consultant before I was allowed to operate, while others were allowed to straight away. I feel it was because I am visibly Muslim with a hijab.“It’s very disheartening to feel sidelined. When you’re learning practical skills, you need training opportunities or you’ll fall behind.”One male Muslim doctor said: “The career progression of Muslims in the NHS is far more stunted than their white counterparts. The hurdles are more difficult and challenging.”Why is there Islamophobia in the NHS?The stark lack of Muslims in leadership roles within the NHS has been cited as one of the reasons behind Islamophobia affecting the organisation.“Even if you get some who are Muslim or BAME, they’ve often had to neglect the cultural and religious aspects of their identity to get to their position,” says medical student Khadija, who also believes negativeportrayals of Muslims in society and media exacerbate Islamophobia. “Until the management within the NHS is reflective of its workforces, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to root out and address Islamophobia,” said one Muslim hospital registrar.“I would argue the reason there’s so much Islamophobia in the NHS is because Muslims are repressed from leadership roles and find it more difficult to climb the ladder.“So it becomes a vicious circle – they can’t support juniors facing the same issues.”But he added: “There are some very supportive and open minded line managers. It’s not a problem with everyone.”YingFei Heliot, a lecturer in organisational behaviour at Surrey Business School, published a report on religious identity and working in the NHS. She found Muslims faced the worst discrimination of any group.“Everyone recognises Islamophobia exists, but they don’t want to talk about it because it’s so sensitive,” she said.Dr Tarek Younis, researcher and psychologist at Middlesex University, researches Islamophobia. His latest publication is on the issue within the NHS.“When people think about Islamophobia, they focus on hate crimes,” he said. “But by doing this, they miss the wood for the trees.“We neglect how certain policies and political rhetoric formulates the bedrock of how racial discrimination takes place.”He says it’s important to realise NHS professionals are just people – and as such can hold prejudices. “The Brexit campaign succeeded on a lot of radicalised logic. A lot of middle-class and healthcare workers voted for it.“We know the healthcare setting is not a place where people just drop all their prejudices when they enter, be that patients or healthcare staff.“What is important is to recognise what’s not being done about it.”We know the healthcare setting is not a place where people just drop all their prejudices when they enter, be that patients or healthcare staff.Dr Tarek Younis, researcher and psychologist at Middlesex UniversityMore crucial, says Waqar, is ensuring the board understands the importance of an organisation where people can “bring their whole selves to work”.“This is a systemic issue and there’s no simple fix.” she said. “The solution isn’t just putting staff members on a course. It will take years to see a cultural shift.“Sometimes, Islamophobia stems from ignorance and doesn’t come from a bad place. But there are more serious incidents which come from a pernicious place as people within the NHS are believing the anti-Muslim narrative.”Dr Habib Naqvi from NHS England said: “While this survey represents only a snapshot of the 40,000 Muslim colleagues who work in the NHS, it is unacceptable for anyone to be unsafe or to be treated unfairly, either because of their religious belief or any other protected characteristic.“The NHS belongs to us all, and as part of the NHS People Plan, NHS employers are committed to increasing Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation across their leadership teams.”Tomorrow on HuffPost UK: How Muslim medics face Islamophobia from their own patients.Related... 'Targeted And Singled Out' – How It Feels When The Government Cancels Your Eid Plans ‘No Hajj And No Hugs’: UK Muslims On Missing Their 'Pilgrimage Of A Lifetime' Tories Will Not Face Islamophobia Probe By Equalities Watchdog Muslim Women Are Abandoning Surgery Career Dreams Over Fears Of Breaking NHS Dress Code
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The government has used the Gina Miller Brexit case to try and justify going back on the “oven ready” Brexit withdrawal agreement Boris Johnson agreed with the EU this year.The prime minister is attempting to take powers to renege on key sections of the deal if the UK and EU cannot agree on how Northern Ireland is treated when the standstill transition period ends on December 31.European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic has told Johnson to drop the laws in the Internal Market Bill by the end of the month and warned that he has “seriously damaged trust” needed for ongoing talks on a long-term trade deal.The plans have triggered a major Tory backlash, with Sir Roger Gale telling Sky News he would be willing to be sacked from the party he has represented as an MP since 1983 to vote against the Bill, insisting he will “do what I have to do” on the basis of the principle that “the United Kingdom keeps its word internationally”. NEWTory grandee Sir Roger Gale indicates that he is ready to lose the Tory whip when he votes against Boris Johnson’s internal market bill next weekSir Roger is no serial rebel....Watch part of my interview: pic.twitter.com/7b0o2QNZb9— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) September 10, 2020Former Tory leader Michael Howard, Johnson’s predecessor as PM Theresa May, and several senior MPs including three select committee chairs have also criticised the plans. But UK attorney general Suella Braverman has attempted to justify giving ministers powers to determine what goods traded between Northern Ireland and Great Britain require exit checks, and to decide when government subsidies need to be notified to the EU in case they breach Brussels regulation. Braverman admitted these powers would be “incompatible with the withdrawal agreement” if exercised as she took the rare step of publishing her legal advice to the government.It states that the parliament is sovereign and so can pass laws that breach the UK’s obligations under international treaties, like the WA. Braverman said this was similar to how Canada, Australia and New Zealand operate, with international treaty obligations only becoming binding when passed in UK law decided by “parliament and parliament alone”.In an ironic twist, Braverman argued that principle was “recently approved unanimously by the Supreme Court” in the 2017 Miller case, in which judges found that only MPs – not the government – could trigger Article 50 to begin the UK’s departure from the EU, to the anger of then prime minister May.But Sefcovic insisted that the bill, if adopted, would be in “clear breach” of the WA that Johnson proclaimed was “oven ready” during December’s election and signed in January.The legal mess comes as a result of the WA treating Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK: NI will follow Brussels rules in some areas in order to maintain an invisible border with the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU.During an emergency meeting of the so-called “joint committee”, which is meant to determine how the rules operate for Northern Ireland, Sefcovic urged his opposite number Michael Gove to “withdraw these measures from the draft bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month”, the Commission said.The statement went on: “He stated that, by putting forward this bill, the UK has seriously damaged trust between the EU and the UK. It is now up to the UK government to re-establish that trust. “He reminded the UK government that the withdrawal agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text – which the European Union will not be shy in using.”Shadow attorney general Lord Falconer, meanwhile, said Braverman had done nothing to justify breaching the law.He shared a post by Cambridge public law professor Mark Elliott that described the attorney general’s advice as “utterly risible”, and said Braverman had failed to justify the breach.“Treaty obligations are binding upon the UK, and to suggest that they are not ‘because parliament is sovereign’ is as embarrassing as it is dangerous,” Elliott concluded. AG’s Opinion explains UK Parliament can as a matter of domestic law break international treaty UK is a party to. Nobody disputes that. She offers no justification for breach of international law Bill perpetrates. Voice of of law is silent in govt. She colludes in its breach. https://t.co/Cmo42oIsQV— Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) September 10, 2020Related... Ex-Tory Leader Michael Howard Blasts Boris Johnson's Plan To Break The Law Boris Johnson's New Excuse For Breaking The Law? He Negotiated His Brexit Deal Too Quickly Boris Johnson Says ‘Everybody Should Obey The Law’ Despite His Plan To Break The Law
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Camshaft Market: IntroductionAccording to the report, the global automotive camshaft market is projected to surpass ~US$ 27 Bn by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of ~3% during the forecast period.Asia Pacific and Latin America are anticipated to witness high growth in vehicle production and subsequently, estimated to boost the camshaft market during the forecast period.Expansion of Camshaft MarketIncreased adoption of double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engines in order to achieve more power is expected to drive the camshaft market.The DOHC type engine utilizes two camshafts per cylinder block, i.e., 2 camshafts in an inline engine and 4 camshafts in v engine.Vehicle sales are expected to improve in Europe post the tailwind of Brexit over the organization of trade agreements among the EU and U.K.Emerging economies in Rest of Africa, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, are expected to offer opportunities for new vehicle sales, thereby providing new opportunities to the automotive industry and consequently, propel the camshaft market in Middle East & Africa.Based on engine type, the inline engine segment held a notable share of the market in 2018.L3 engines are also being increasingly used in compact cars.
Michael Howard has become the latest former Tory leader to savage Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law.A row broke out earlier this week after the prime minister announced new legislation that will override part of the Brexit divorce deal signed with the EU.Ministers admitted it will break international law in a “specific and limited way”.Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, Howard said to do so would cause huge “damage” to the UK’s “reputation for probity and respect for the rule of law”.Howard, who led the Tory party between 2003 and 2005, said he never thought he would hear any British minister propose breaking the law.“How can we reproach Russia, or China, or Iran when their conduct falls below international accepted standards, when we are showing such scant regard for our treaty obligations?”Johnson yesterday told MPs “we expect everybody in this country to obey the law”, despite his plan to break it.Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister, said the UK was in danger of losing the trust of other countries.“Given that, how can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?” she sad.And John Major, another former Tory PM, also reacted angrily. “For generations, Britain’s word, solemnly given, has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct,” he said in a statement yesterday.“Over the last century, as our military strength has dwindled, our word has retained its power.  If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”The government has claimed the move is necessary to preserve trade within the UK and prevent a border between Britain and Northern Ireland.But the EU has expressed “serious concerns” and an emergency meeting between the UK and EU is taking place in London today.Related... NHS Test And Trace Has Lowest Contact Tracing Rate Since Launch UK Should Pause 'Headlong Rush' Back To Offices, Warns Neil Ferguson
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