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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,100

Journal Archives

Boris Johnson: police called to loud altercation at potential PM's home

Police were called to the home of Boris Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, in the early hours of Friday morning after neighbours heard a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging.


[A] neighbour said they recorded the altercation from inside their flat out of concern for Symonds. On the recording, heard by the Guardian, Johnson can be heard refusing to leave the flat and telling Symonds to “get off my fucking laptop” before there is a loud crashing noise.

Symonds is heard saying Johnson had ruined a sofa with red wine: “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything.”

The neighbour said: “There was a smashing sound of what sounded like plates. There was a couple of very loud screams that I’m certain were Carrie and she was shouting to ‘get out’ a lot. She was saying ‘get out of my flat’ and he was saying no. And then there was silence after the screaming. My partner, who was in bed half asleep, had heard a loud bang and the house shook.”


Sounds like they'll need to budget for extra soundproofing for the sanity of the future occupant of 11 Downing Street.

Brexit: Carney rejects Boris Johnson's no-deal trade claim

The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has said that the UK would be hit automatically by tariffs on exports to the EU in a no-deal Brexit, rejecting a claim made by Boris Johnson that this could be avoided.

Tory leadership candidate Johnson said this week that tariffs would not necessarily have to be paid if the UK left the EU without a deal because the UK could rely on article 24 of the general agreement on tariffs and trade (Gatt).

Some Brexit supporters have claimed that the Gatt, a treaty under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO), would allow a “standstill” in which tariffs are avoided, even in the absence of any agreement on trade.

Many trade experts say this is not the case without agreement from both sides. Carney cited the head of the WTO and Liam Fox, the minister for international trade who backed the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, to contradict Johnson.


I don't suppose it'll make any difference to the Brexit/WTO mythologists among Johnson's base, but let's hope that his many wild and woolly claims aren't going to go unchallenged before he's anointed.

Convicted Tory MP Chris Davies loses seat after recall petition

A Conservative MP has lost his seat after an expenses scandal, triggering a byelection that will provide a tricky test for the next prime minister.

A recall petition was set up after Chris Davies, the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, was convicted of submitting fake expenses documents. He was ousted from the House of Commons after 19% of registered voters in his constituency signed a petition to remove him.

A total of 10,005 people signed, well above the 10% threshold needed for a recall. The result, confirmed on Friday by the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, means a byelection will be called, which Davies could stand in.

The seat was held by the Liberal Democrats from 1997 until 2015, when Davies won it. He increased his majority in 2017.


Not a good day for Tories so far ...

Conservative MP seen manhandling female climate change protester at Mansion House event

Video has emerged of a Conservative MP manhandling a climate change protester who interrupted Philip Hammond‘s Mansion House speech.

Mark Field can be seen standing up from his chair and grabbing the woman as she walks past him, before pinning her against a pillar and marching her away.

As the pair passes the camera the MP is seen gripping the woman’s neck tightly.

None of the Greenpeace-affiliated protesters were arrested over the disruption to Mr Hammond’s address, City of London Police said.


BBC Newsnight

Footage shows foreign office minister Mark Field MP removing a protestor from the Mansion House dinner earlier this evening.

“It looks to be a very difficult situation for everyone concerned,” says @AlistairBurtUK #newsnight | @KirstyWark

Paul Brand

In this longer version of the video, you can see the woman apparently posing no immediate threat as she passes behind Mark Field. He marches her out of the room by her neck. I wasn’t there, so I can’t say she didn’t pose a risk, but it looks heavy handed.

After a media furore erupted, Field released a statement:

Field would like us to know that we can't trust our lying eyes, which show the woman walking, not even that briskly, past some diners who don't even react, until Field turns around in his seat, grabs at her, pushes her heavily into a pillar, then grapples with her clumsily before shoving her forcefully and frogmarching her towards the exit while gripping her by the neck. (Had she indeed been armed, leaving her hands free as he did would mean we'd now likely be discussing the deceased MP for the Cities of London and Westminster. As it is, we may be discussing the ex-MP etc. etc.)

Footage from moments earlier and a different angle shows other protesters being intercepted and escorted out rather less brutally:

Ian Fraser

This is the moment climate change protestors disrupted "Spreadsheet" Phil Hammond's Mansion House speech (just before Mark Field MP appeared to assault one of them)

There's been no identification so far of the protester, and no indication whether she's suffered lasting ill effects.

As Foreign Office Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Field's boss is Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose campaign team is unlikely to be happy about their prime ministerial candidate having to answer some awkward questions tomorrow concerning what he intends to do about it. Meanwhile, some of the pathetic excuses and even cheers of approval being spouted by certain Tory MPs aren't reflecting well on them or their party.

Britain's Next Prime Minister Has Probably Already Lost Scotland


Statehood is again on the agenda in Edinburgh as Brexit raises uncomfortable questions about the very union that defines the U.K. The political divide underscored by the Brexit vote was only reinforced by last month’s elections for the European Parliament. As candidates to become the next British prime minister vow to pull out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, Scots are confronted with a stark choice: Should they stick with the English and their version of nationalism, or roll the independence dice again?

Nowhere illustrates the dilemma better than the capital. A compact city of some half a million people, Edinburgh was decisive in swaying a previous referendum against independence in 2014. That vote was agreed to by then-Prime Minister David Cameron in a bid to quell separatist sentiment for a generation or more. Two years later, 74% of Edinburgh voters opposed Brexit, the highest margin for “Remain” of any U.K. city. That preference for the status quo looks increasingly untenable for a place with such long-standing European connections and a financial-services industry that stands to suffer post-Brexit.

The north-south divide is visible in the words “second referendum.” In England they signal a rerun of the Brexit vote; in Scotland the meaning is to take another shot at breaking away from the rest of the U.K. The Scottish government, run by the pro-independence Scottish National Party for the past 12 years, reckons it’s just a matter of time before its U.K. counterpart in London has no choice but to sanction another vote. A spokesman for the administration in Edinburgh says the U.K. policy of blocking a repeat of the 2014 referendum will simply prove to be democratically unsustainable.

“There’s a definite shift in independence support,” says Simon Pia, a former communications director for the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament who was involved in the campaign for a “No” vote in 2014. Now a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, he’s since switched to the “Yes” camp, largely as a result of what he sees as a growing political and cultural gulf between Scotland and its southern neighbor. While English politics is divided along Brexit lines, the parties in Scotland cleave along pro- or anti-independence lines. Pia says his students now are overwhelmingly for independence, but not necessarily pro-SNP. To them, moving from a devolved Scottish administration to independence is a natural progression, one likely to be accelerated by the election of a pro-Brexit Conservative leader like Boris Johnson, who is yet “more of an alienation” to Scots.


Following on from bronxiteforever's earlier thread, Bloomberg takes a fairish shot at summing up some of the tensions afflicting the Union at the moment.

The article's not without flaws: "The SNP is meanwhile criticized for a poor record of delivery in the policy areas over which it has control, most notably on high school education." The criticisms are generally from the Opposition sides of the Scottish Parliament along with cheap shots from Westminster, whereas the other parties' past records in Scottish Government haven't been stellar, to say the least, and that "poor record of delivery" under the SNP and latterly the SNP and Scottish Green Party outshines the rest of the UK in most if not all of the devolved areas of governance.

As for "Opponents of full autonomy say the SNP’s spending policies depend on the transfer of money that comes with being part of the U.K.", we could fill a thread with the debate on the long-deliberately obfuscated balance of payments between the Scottish Government and Westminster (I'd really rather not spend the time and effort doing that, but if we must, we must, I guess, just don't expect it to be simple!).

Labour frontbench MP Andy McDonald takes no nonsense from BBC Radio 4 Today's John Humphrys

Alex Andreou

This clip of @AndyMcDonaldMP nailing John Humphrys on his Trump apologia, has brightened up my morning. It’s usually not the interviewee’s job to challenge the interviewer on blatantly false statements, but this is where we are now, it seems.

I almost never listen to the Today morning "news" programme nowadays as I can do without the blood pressure surge at that time of day, but I turned it on as I finished dozing this morning to catch the hot takes on Peterborough, and I'm really glad I did.

Humphrys was up to his usual tricks with McDonald (having given Farage an easy ride earlier in the show), interrupting gratuitously, patronizing, and worst, misrepresenting Trump's line on the NHS, denying that Trump said clearly it would be on the table during any trade negotiations before he backtracked a few hours later (and ignoring similar repeated statements from US Ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson).

McDonald stuck to his guns and trod the fine line between mirroring Humphrys' aggression and keeping his cool enough to make sure his points were made, at one point grappling control of the interview and reducing Humphrys to a spluttering, giggling mess when he had to grudgingly concede McDonald's point, revealing that it's all a lucrative game for the useless terminally biased old codger.

It's a shame that I and others feel the need to applaud on the rare occasions this happens, and an even greater shame what the BBC's flagship news programme, with pretensions to set the news agenda for the day, has been reduced to.

Peterborough by-election: Labour beats Brexit Party to hold seat

The Labour Party has seen off a challenge from the Brexit Party and held on to its seat in the Peterborough by-election.

Nigel Farage's candidate Mike Greene had been tipped to win the contest, but union activist Lisa Forbes managed to retain the seat for Labour.

Paul Bristow for the Conservatives came in third place.


A total of 15 candidates stood in the by-election, including Beki Selleck for the Lib Dems, and John Whitby for UKIP.


The by-election, triggered after the previous Labour MP was sent to prison earlier in the year, lost her Labour Party membership and was subject to a recall petition, was widely trailed as a coup in waiting for the Brexit Party after its success in the European elections (Peterborough voted 60% Leave in the EU Referendum).

In the end, the Tory vote held up well enough to let Labour retain the seat with a slightly increased majority (683, compared to 607 in 2017, when Labour took the seat from the Tories), though it looks like it'll be a three-way marginal in the next general election.

Main parties' results (apologies for the Andrew Neil pic):

2017 results for comparison:

Fiona Onasanya (Labour) 22,950
Stewart Jackson (Conservatives) 22,343
Beki Sellick (Liberal Democrats) 1,597
Fiona Radić (Greens) 848

Turnout 67.5%

ETA: Changes in vote share since the 2017 GE:

UK government may face court action after EU citizens denied vote

The government is facing calls to launch an urgent investigation into the treatment of EU citizens in the European elections after many people reported being denied their democratic right to vote.

Voters across the country told of their devastation at finding their names crossed off the register due to clerical errors by local councils. Experts said the situation was a “scandal we knew was coming” and that the government may have a case to answer in court.


Anneli Howard, a barrister who specialises in EU law, said the government was at risk of being sued. She argued there were multiple breaches of EU treaties, including article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states that EU nationals have “the right to vote … under the same conditions as nationals of that state [of residence]”.


While Howard said she doubted any judge would declare the election result unsafe as a result of council clerical errors, the principle of the issue could be established because individuals had the right to sue for compensation.


One estimate from the group New Europeans, based on information from electoral registration officers, is that between one and two million EU citizens may have been disenfranchised (which, if true, would be between a third and two-thirds of UK-resident EU citizens): https://scramnews.com/millions-eu-citizens-unable-vote-new-europeans-election-chaos/

The referendum was advisory, so in that sense it WAS just a formal opinion poll.

The government, for its own reasons (internal splits, fear of UKIP taking votes), decided to treat it as binding. (Side note: had it been a legally binding referendum, it would have been declared illegal because of irregularities in how the campaign was conducted.)

No planning was carried out before the referendum to figure out what the impact of Brexit would be, how to cope with it and how to enact it. Civil servants in the various departments were actually forbidden by Cameron from committing any thoughts or plans to paper.

The Leave campaign was deliberately vague and contradictory about what form Brexit would take. Some of its prominent supporters insisted that it wouldn't mean leaving the single market, customs union etc., just a less formal trade-only relationship with the EU. Some treated it as a big bluff, expecting the EU to fold and give them whatever they wanted because the UK was indispensable to the EU - they insisted the UK could have its cake and eat it, basically being able to trade with the EU without having to comply with its rules.

May, on taking over from Cameron, interpreted the result as primarily meaning that freedom of movement (in the EU sense) would end, having been obsessed with immigration and her consistent failure to bring numbers of immigrants down during her term as Home Secretary. That red line was mainly what led to all the problems in the subsequent negotiations. The EU will not budge on the "four freedoms" principle (of free movement of goods, services, capital and people) that governs its closer trade relationships with countries that want access to the single market. Other than that, May continued to be vague about the shape of Brexit, coming out with platitudes such as "Brexit means Brexit" and that she wanted a "red, white and blue Brexit".

To make matters worse, Article 50 was triggered prematurely, before the UK had carried out any planning, even to the extent of what its aims in negotiations with the EU would be. Now, at this more than late stage, it's no clearer, because the splits in the country, parliament and the two main parties are so severe that no feasible deal can carry a majority, and any time efforts are made to nail down a path forward, it leads to stalemate. Last year, May finally called her Cabinet to Chequers (the prime minister's country retreat) to try to thrash out an agreement on what shape Brexit should take. Within barely a day, this triggered resignations from a number of her prominent ministers who had second thoughts. The resignations have continued since then as the mess has unfolded further.

The main sticking point - and a totally predictable one from the outset - was the issue of arrangements for the Northern Ireland-Ireland border (the interface between UK and EU jurisdiction, and an obvious potential flashpoint). That still hasn't been resolved, no deal is possible until it is, and even a no-deal Brexit wouldn't resolve it.

Basically, the prospectus adopted by the hard-line Leavers is undeliverable. Now they're reduced to spouting about the virtues of a no-deal Brexit and the wonders of trading on WTO rules, which would be severely disadvantageous to the UK economy, and the problems of which none of them seem to grasp, or if they do, they're lying about them.

Brexit Party Donations - An Open Invitation to Launder Money

“It couldn’t be less secure” is Turlough Conway’s conclusion as he looks at Nigel Farage’s “Never seen anything like it” claim of mass donations to his new party.

During the EU referendum campaign in 2016 multiple fines for data misuse and overspending were brought against Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign and it was referred to the Met Police and National Crime Agency (NCA) for electoral wrongdoing. Given this background, it would have seemed logical for the Brexit Party to ensure that its funding and data campaigns were as open and transparent as possible.


With notable exceptions, it’s remarkable how little interest the media has taken in the Brexit Party. The concept was seeded in August 2016 when Brexit Party domains were bought by West Dorset UKIP. When Farage launched his party on 12 April this year he claimed that, during the preceding 10 days, it had amassed funding at record rates through its website – £750,000, all in small donations of less than £500, he said.

Farage’s mentioning that the “small sums” were all less than £500 seemed unnecessary and stood out. But it is significant in terms of electoral funding law.


Conclusions for Electoral Law


"This is a red flag for the kind of transactional laundering that the Electoral Commission warned of: multiple, small, anonymous donations from one large donor."

Clearly a Political funding act nearly 20 years old cannot be fit for purpose in the digital age. In 2019, only suspicious transactions have faint or invisible traces and there is no reason why data on all contributions should not be comprehensive and available to the Electoral Commission on request.


There's too much detail in this article to be able to summarize it sensibly within DU's paragraph allowance. Conway shows how the Brexit "Party" website's donations and registration systems are open to abuse.

Leading anti-Brexit QC Jolyon Maugham agrees that there's cause for concern:

Jo Maugham QC

Some compelling points made here by @Turloughc about how, it would seem, @brexitparty_uk has set out to create an architecture that is receptive to impermissible and/or dark donations. https://bylinetimes.com/2019/05/14/brexit-party-donations-an-open-invitation-to-launder-money/

In a Twitter thread, author Carol Hedges took a closer look at how the Brexit "Party" is set up:

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇬🇧Did You Know? 1.🇪🇺
You cannot become a member of The Brexit Party; you can become a registered supporter but not a member (check out their website if you don’t believe me), Yes, it’s a political party but what you may not know is that it’s also a private company ...#brexit

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇪🇺Did You Know? 2🇬🇧
Farage has right to“directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of the company” It’s a company limited by shares (http://bit.ly/brexit-party-articles …), which means that the directors can take any profit out of the company.

carol hedges

🇪🇺Did You Know? 3🇬🇧 By the way, the other director is Richard Tice (https://badboysofbrexit.com/2018/01/16/richard-tice/ …), CEO of a £500m asset management group. Men of the people, eh?

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇬🇧Did You Know? 4🇪🇺Nigel Farage is answerable to nobody, and that includes his party’s supporters.
Is Ex public schoolboy, ex Tory, ex commodities broker, and self-appointed representative of the working classes of this great country of ours mugging his supporters off?

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇬🇧Did You Know? 5🇪🇺
Who made #Farage leader of The Brexit Party? He did. Remember, it hasn’t got any members, just supporters – there’s no-one to question him and he isn’t accountable to anybody. Would you support a party where just one person made all the decisions? #Brexit

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇪🇺Did You Know? 6🇬🇧
So, next week, just think before you put your X in The Brexit Party box. Nigel Farage Moneymaker European Tour is nothing but a private business and all you’re doing is putting money directly into his pocket.
Your choice. But does he care about you?
Hell no!

In the Twitter thread, some people point out similarities in the structure and funding of Italy's Five Star Movement, founded by Beppe Grillo.

Current electoral law seems ill suited to coping with the privatization of politics in this way. It almost seems as if right-wing forces in Europe have been sharing tips ...
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