Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

Boris Johnson gives ‘worst interview by politician ever’ on live radio

June 22, 2017

RT (Russia Today)

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s competency has yet again been called into question following a botched BBC interview in which the Tory minister failed to answer key questions on the government’s program set out in the Queen’s Speech.

During the interview on BBC Radio 4 with Eddie Mair, Johnson repeatedly stumbled over questions about the Tories’ policies announced in the state opening of Parliament on Wednesday.

John Prescott @johnprescott

THE worst interview by a politician EVER. I expect @BBCNews & @itvnews will cover it & it’ll be in every newspaper 🤔

3:30 PM – 21 Jun 2017
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Mair asked what policies outlined in the Queen’s Speech would tackle the “burning issues” highlighted by Prime Minister Theresa May a year ago when she entered Downing Street.

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© Don’t Panic LondonMichael Gove pranked by Game of Thrones ‘producer’ casting ‘ruthless backstabber’ (VIDEO)
He asked how the government intends to tackle discrimination against black people in the criminal justice system.

“Well, there are measures, I believe, in the bill on the courts which I think is supposed to address some of those issues,” Johnson replied.

“I think one thing in particular that we are looking at is measures to … hang on a second … there are all sorts of measures that we want to take to ensure that we do not discriminate against everybody.”

Mair fired another question at the befuddled foreign secretary, asking him what policies are in place to help white working class people access education.

Johnson, however, appeared to dodge the question completely, saying instead that the Queen’s Speech focuses on “economic growth” and coming out with a “successful Brexit.”

He did though add that the government aims to ensure a “fantastic educational system” and “make sure there is a ladder of opportunity for everybody.”

Turning to the issue of mental health, Mair accused the government of merely announcing proposals for “review and discussion” rather than “concrete policies.”

Johnson once again digressed from the challenge and tried to answer Mair’s previous question.

Boris Johnson © Brendan Smialowski  Theresa May to ‘send Boris Johnson on foreign trips,’ keeping him away from election campaign
At that point the BBC presenter lost his patience. “It’s not a Two Ronnies sketch – you can’t answer the question before last,” Mair said, referring to the popular UK comedy double act from the 1970s and 80s.

Mair asked the Tory MP why Conservative manifesto pledges were ditched so easily, to which Johnson replied: “I’m not going to hide it from you that the election did not turn out exactly as we would have hoped.”

He insisted, however, that the Queen’s Speech had been “very progressive.”

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Boris Johnson. Credit Toby Melville – Reuters

Johnson also dismissed speculation he is trying to snatch the leadership from Theresa May, insisting the prime minister is a “great leader,” pointing out that the public currently has little appetite for another election.

But as support for the Tory party withers and May’s pledge for a “strong and stable leadership” loses credibility, Mair challenged Johnson on what being a prime minister actually entails, to which, again, the foreign secretary seemed to give a fumbling answer.

“The point of the prime minister is to lead the country, to give a …er… lead on these key issues … and to take this Queen’s Speech through.

“And she will, and she will do a great job.”

Social media users mocked Johnson’s performance.

Phil Jerrod @PhilJerrod
When I worked in Tesco’s on the trolleys we fired people more capable than Boris Johnson.
4:58 AM – 22 Jun 2017
Rachael @Rachael_Swindon
Wow…This isn’t a car crash. This is a 20 car pile-up. Boris Johnson has just about blown his chance of being PM.
2:33 PM – 21 Jun 2017

Polly Toynbee @pollytoynbee
Blethering bluster from flailing Boris on PM prog. NEVER does any homework,ignorant of own policies, should NEVER be PM or let near EU negs
1:37 PM – 21 Jun 2017

London Mayor Calls on UK to Retain Single Market Membership After Brexit

June 22, 2017

“The Brexit goalposts have been moved,” Khan said in a statement, adding that single market access should be ensured at least for the transition period during which Britain extracts itself from the EU.

“The government must now listen to the will of the people by putting aside ideology and negotiating a sensible Brexit that ensures continuing UK membership of the Single Market,” Khan said.

May has said she wants a clean break from the EU bloc, leaving the single market.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by James Davey)

After London fire, PM says other tower blocks have combustible cladding

June 22, 2017


A number of British tower blocks have combustible cladding, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday, citing the results of tests conducted after a fire killed at least 79 people in London.

Flames spread rapidly up the 24-storey residential tower block last week, trapping people inside, in what was Britain’s worst blaze since World War Two. Exterior cladding added during a refurbishment may have played a part, residents have said.

The disaster heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, already fighting for her political survival after a snap election saw her party lose its parliamentary majority. It has acted as a focal point for anger at government cuts to local authority funding and drawn accusations of criminal negligence.

“(We) should of course be careful on speculating what caused this fire, but as a precaution the government has arranged to test cladding on all relevant tower blocks,” May told parliament.

“Shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible.”

She said local authorities and fire services had been informed and were taking steps to make affected buildings safe and to inform residents.

May has launched a public inquiry into the fire and police have announced a criminal investigation.

May said tests on the cladding of Grenfell Tower where the fire blazed would be made public in the next 48 hours.

“This has been a wake-up call for the whole country,” said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party.

“Residents of tower blocks all over the country are concerned, worried and frightened for their own safety. What we need is a step change in our attitude toward housing in this country.”

After apologizing for a slow state response to the fire, May said it was right that the head of the local council had resigned. Nicholas Holgate, chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, said he was forced out by the government.

(Reporting by William James and James Davey; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Tusk Holds Out Hope That Brexit Can Be Reversed

June 22, 2017

BRUSSELS — The Latest on the European Union summit (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

European Council President Donald Tusk says that he still holds out hope that Brexit can be reversed even though the negotiations on Britain’s departure from the European Union officially started this week.

Tusk has made the comments a few hours before a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Tusk says that he had been asked by British friends if he could see a way of Britain still staying in.

Tusk said that “I told them that in fact the EU was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve.”

He added to that by quoting a John Lennon song: “So who knows? You may say I am a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”


10 a.m.

European Union leaders are gathering to weigh measures to tackle terrorism, closer defense ties and migration, convinced that anti-EU sentiment and support for populist parties are waning.

Before the two-day meeting in Brussels starting Thursday, summit chairman Donald Tusk trumpeted the resurgence of the EU, even as Britain launched talks this week on leaving.

Tusk told the leaders in an invitation letter that after a series of election defeats for anti-migrant parties, notably in France, the EU is “slowly turning the corner.”

He said “we are witnessing the return of the EU rather as a solution, not a problem.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to praise the good atmosphere at Monday’s Brexit talks, and explain how to protect the rights of citizens hit by Britain’s departure.


EU Leaders to Weigh Terrorism, Defense Ties, Migration

June 22, 2017

BRUSSELS — European Union leaders are gathering to weigh measures to tackle terrorism, closer defense ties and migration, convinced that anti-EU sentiment and support for populist parties are waning.

Before the two-day meeting in Brussels starting Thursday, summit chairman Donald Tusk trumpeted the resurgence of the EU, even as Britain launched talks this week on leaving.

Tusk told the leaders in an invitation letter that after a series of election defeats for anti-migrant parties, notably in France, the EU is “slowly turning the corner.”

He said “we are witnessing the return of the EU rather as a solution, not a problem.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to praise the good atmosphere at Monday’s Brexit talks, and explain how to protect the rights of citizens hit by Britain’s departure.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond: Theresa May will Still Be PM at year end — Headlines Still Proclaim “Constitutional Crisis”

June 22, 2017

Theresa May will still be British leader at the end of this year, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Thursday.

May’s future is unclear after her botched gamble on a snap election left her Conservative Party short of a majority in parliament.

Asked by BBC television if he believed May would remain premier into 2018, despite presiding over a minority government, Hammond replied: “Yes I do.”

“I would remind you that when we formed the coalition (with the Liberal Democrats) in 2010 people… were saying then ‘Oh it won’t last till Christmas’. But it proved extraordinarily resilient,” Hammond said.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)


Theresa May faces constitutional crisis as Labour and Lib Dems vow to vote down manifesto pledges ‘which failed to gain public support’ 


Theresa May is facing a constitutional crisis after Labour and the Liberal Democrats threatened to use the House of Lords to water down Brexit.

The Prime Minister is facing a battle to get the crucial legislation through the upper chamber after it emerged that peers may seek to ignore a 72-year convention and block new laws paving the way for Britain leaving the single market and EU customs union.

State Opening of Parliament 2017 
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn during the State Opening of Parliament 

The Salisbury Convention states that manifesto commitments made by a governing party should not be blocked or significantly altered by the Lords.

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© AFP | Theresa May will meet EU leaders for the first time since her Conservative party unexpectedly lost its majority

Humbled PM Theresa May hopes to reassure EU leaders at Brussels summit

June 22, 2017


© Stephane De Sakutin, AFP | Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron talk during the G7 summit in Italy on May 26, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-06-22

Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May will try Thursday to convince European leaders she can still push through Brexit despite being badly weakened by an election bet that turned sour.

The two-day Brussels summit marks the debut of French President Emmanuel Macron, the figurehead of a renewed confidence among the remaining 27 states that Britain’s withdrawal can be a fresh start.

But talks on issues including post-Brexit defence plans risk being overshadowed by concerns that a disastrous election has left May so enfeebled that Brexit negotiations will be hampered.

“There is an enormous insecurity among the Europeans: how long will she last? Has she got the majority to deliver?” a senior EU official said.

In Brussels, security has been stepped up after Tuesday’s bombing at one of the city’s main rail stations by an Islamic State sympathiser, following attacks in Britain and France.

Over dinner, May is expected to fill in some of the blanks for the other EU leaders on Brexit.

It will be their first meeting since her Conservative party unexpectedly lost its majority in a June 8 election, leaving her in charge of a so-called “zombie government“.

Britain’s shock referendum vote to leave the EU was a year ago on Friday, and the country remains in a dark national mood after a string of terror attacks and a deadly tower block blaze.

May citizens offer

“The PM will give an update to the other member states on the UK’s Brexit plans following the beginning of the negotiations this week,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

During the dinner May will “outline some principles of the UK’s paper on citizens rights which will be published at the beginning of next week,” the spokesman said.

The EU has made a priority of the rights of three million European citizens living in Britain, plus a million Britons resident in Europe.

At the first formal Brexit negotiations Monday, Britain accepted the EU’s timetable that the exit bill, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland border be settled before its request for a free trade deal be considered.

EU diplomatic sources said May will try to keep it simple, with no discussion.

“We believe that the warming-up round of last Monday did create a positive atmosphere … I don’t think that May will want to shatter that understanding,” said one EU diplomatic source, who asked not to named.

After her comments, May will leave the room for the remaining 27 EU member states to discuss what she has told them, and the future relocation of key EU agencies from London.

‘Turning the corner’

EU President Donald Tusk said the bloc appeared to have survived the worst of the anti-EU sentiment which drove Britain’s shock vote to leave exactly a year to the day on Friday.

“The current developments on the continent seem to indicate that we are slowly turning the corner,” the former Polish premier wrote in his invitation letter.

His upbeat assessment follows a series of election setbacks for populist and eurosceptic parties, including French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who lost heavily to newcomer Macron in last month’s presidential poll.

Macron has joined forces with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pledging to put a post-Brexit EU back on track to deliver prosperity and security after years of austerity and crisis.

Macron and Merkel are expected to recommend another six-month rollover of tough economic sanctions imposed in 2014 against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed 10,000 lives.

The French and German leaders will brief their peers on the Minsk ceasefire process, which has seen continued clashes between Kiev forces and Russian-backed rebels.

Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker are also expected to report on recent meetings with US President Donald Trump.

Trump’s “America First” approach and dismissive remarks about the EU and NATO have and bolstered calls for the European Union to take on an increased defence role, while his decision to pull out of the Paris climate pact infuriated Europe.

The EU leaders will also discuss plans to push internet firms to clamp down on online extremism, and Europe’s migration crisis.

Queen’s Speech live: Theresa May tears up Tory manifesto pledges as she unveils plans for hard Brexit

June 21, 2017


Theresa May has unveiled plans for a hard Brexit as she shredded the Tories’ general election manifesto in her Queen’s Speech.

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Queen’s speech 2017: Government will deliver eight separate bills on Brexit – live

Rolling coverage of the Queen’s speech, with analysis of all the bills and coverage of the opening of the debate featuring Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Queen’s speech debate.

Zombie UK government unveils Brexit laws — Jeremy Corbyn smiling

June 21, 2017


© Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP | Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and Britain’s opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) walk from the House of Commons to the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament


Latest update : 2017-06-21

Prime Minister Theresa May, leading a “zombie” government after a disastrous election, on Wednesday unveiled a diluted programme of action that included the mammoth legislation needed to take Britain out of the EU.

The state opening of parliament by Queen Elizabeth II came after a string of tragedies which have shaken the nation, and the election on June 8 in which May’s Conservatives saw their parliamentary majority wiped out.

The queen, at an occasion shorn of its usual pageantry, read out the watered-down list of proposed legislation and lawmakers will then spend the next few days debating before bringing it to a vote.

May could be forced to resign if she loses the vote, expected on June 29, just as the country embarks on highly sensitive negotiations for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

After four terror attacks and a deadly tower block blaze that have darkened the national mood, anti-government protesters are also planning a “Day of Rage” in the streets that will converge outside parliament with temperatures forecast to hit 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) — London’s hottest June day since 1976.

May humbled

The enfeebled premier, who is still locked in difficult talks with a Northern Irish party to prop up her administration, says the programme is about seizing opportunities offered by Brexit.

The queen said: “My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union.”

She said her government would seek “to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union”, amid divisions within May’s own cabinet over the best strategy.

The speech announced no fewer than eight bills to implement Brexit, and new legislation aimed at tackling extremist content online after the terror attacks.

But the speech was notable also for what it did not contain.

There was no mention of May’s hugely controversial invitation to US President Donald Trump to come on a state visit.

Also absent were key pledges the Conservatives had given in their manifesto for the recent election which analysts said had bombed with the electorate — such as reform of social care for the elderly and more shake-ups in schools.

There was also no mention of May’s controversial promise to allow a parliamentary vote to repeal a ban on fox hunting, which angered left-wingers.

The Times branded May’s administration the “stumbling husk of a zombie government” and said she was now “so weak that she cannot arbitrate between squabbling cabinet ministers”.

“Downing Street is a vacuum,” the newspaper said, two days after Britain and the EU formally started their Brexit negotiations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ready to step in and build a rival government — although he and other opposition parties lack the collective numbers to bring down May.

“This is an unstable coalition, it’s not even a coalition, they haven’t even got an agreement with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party),” he said.

“We’re ready to form, obviously, a minority government if this government collapses and it may well,” Corbyn said, while raising the possibility of a fresh election if parliamentary deadlock continues.

No deal yet

May called the snap general election in a bid to strengthen her mandate heading into the Brexit talks.

But the plan spectacularly backfired, leaving her with a minority government that is now trying to form a majority with Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative DUP.

May has resisted calls to resign and is hoping for the support of the DUP’s 10 MPs to boost her tally of 317 seats in the 650-seat parliament, but a deal has proved elusive so far.

A DUP source said a deal was “certainly not imminent” as the talks “haven’t proceeded in a way that the DUP would have expected” and cautioned that the party “can’t be taken for granted”.

But even with DUP backing, the government would command only a tiny majority, and just a few rebel MPs could be enough to undermine it fatally.

The Queen’s Speech, normally a chance for a new government to show off an ambitious programme, is usually a high point of British pomp, but this year there was no horse-drawn carriage procession, crown or ceremonial robes.

The snap election plus the closeness to the monarch’s official birthday parade last weekend meant it was deemed infeasible to prepare a second major event at short notice.

The speech was initially planned for Monday but was postponed because of the turmoil following the election.

The government has said this session of parliament will last two years — meaning there would be no Queen’s Speech next year — in order to be able to pass the vast amount of Brexit-related legislation.

But opposition parties have said it is a way for the government to avoid being voted down in a Queen’s Speech next year, when talks in Brussels are expected to get tougher ahead of Britain’s expected EU exit in March 2019.

Queen’s Speech 2017: Theresa May promises ‘humility’

June 21, 2017

BBC News

Media caption The Queen’s Speech – a beginner’s guide

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to work with “humility and resolve” as the government prepares to outline its legislative programme later.

Brexit is expected to dominate the Queen’s Speech, which will cover a two-year period instead of one.

It is also expected to include measures on domestic violence and car insurance.

The Conservatives are still trying to agree terms with the Democratic Unionists to secure their support for Mrs May’s minority government.

It means some manifesto pledges are likely to be scaled back or scrapped.

Sources from the DUP have warned that the party cannot be “taken for granted”, although it is expected to back the Queen’s Speech when MPs vote on it next week.

The speech is written by the government but read by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.

It is the main ceremonial event of the Parliamentary calendar – but this year’s will look different, with much of the usual formalities dispensed with and the Queen wearing “day dress” instead of her usual robes.

The speech will be delivered at 11:30 BST and will be covered live on BBC One, Radio 5 live and online. MPs will begin debating its contents in the afternoon.

With Brexit talks now under way, the government is expected to set out the laws needed to leave the EU – irrespective of the final deal agreed with Brussels.

At the heart of this is the so-called Great Repeal Bill – which will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

It will also copy existing EU legislation to the UK statute book, and Parliament will decide which bits to retain.

A dressed-down Queen’s Speech

Scaled back Queen’s Speech will look a little different
  • The Queen will arrive at Parliament in a car, rather than horse-drawn carriage
  • There will be no royal procession into the House of Lords chamber and the Queen will wear “day dress” rather than robes
  • Her crown will be driven to the Lords in its own car, but she will wear a hat instead
  • It is the first state opening with “reduced ceremonial elements” since 1974
  • This was agreed because of timing issues caused by the snap election – rehearsals clashed with Saturday’s Trooping the Colour event

Other areas where Brexit-related laws are expected include immigration, customs and agriculture.

The government has cancelled next year’s Queen’s Speech, so this one will cover a two-year period to give MPs more time to debate all the Brexit legislation.

Mrs May said the speech would be about “grasping the opportunities that lie ahead for the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union”.

She said: “The election result was not the one I hoped for, but this government will respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent.

“We will work hard every day to gain the trust and confidence of the British people, making their priorities our priorities.”

John McDonnell tells BBC Radio 4’s Today Labour wants to reverse austerity

First the government needs to get a Brexit deal that “commands maximum public support”, she said.

“While this will be a government that consults and listens, we are clear that we are going to see Brexit through, working with Parliament, business, the devolved administrations and others to ensure a smooth and orderly withdrawal.”

Ministers have said some parts of the Conservative manifesto would have to be “pruned” following the election result.

These could include controversial plans to axe the winter fuel allowance for well-off pensioners and expanding grammar schools while other proposals, such as a cap on energy bills, will be put out to consultation.

‘Not legitimate’

First Secretary of State Damian Green, a close ally of Theresa May, rejected claims controversial reforms to adult social care funding had been abandoned totally, saying there would be a consultation, prior to legislation, as “getting the details right is difficult and important”.

Mr Green told BBC Radio 4’s Today this was not a “thin” Queen’s Speech since it included a wealth of non-Brexit bills, including a digital charter to boost online safety and legislation on the next phase of the HS2 high-speed rail line.

Although the Conservatives had fallen short of a majority, he said it was “our duty to present our legislative programme to the House of Commons and then to get on with governing”.

Other manifesto pledges that will feature include:

  • a Civil Liability Bill, designed to address the “compensation culture” around motoring insurance claims
  • a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner to stand up for victims and survivors and monitor the response of the authorities
  • a Tenant’s Fees Bill, banning landlords from charging “letting fees”

Labour and the Liberal Democrats each plan to put forward alternative versions of the Queen’s Speech.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Conservatives had “no right to govern”, having “junked their manifesto”.

“They have got the right to bring forward their own programme, but I don’t believe, actually, that they are legitimate in the sense that they have got a mandate that they asked for,” he told Today.

The Lib Dems said their version would call for continued membership of the EU single market and customs union after Brexit.

Party leader Tim Farron said: “This is a government with no clue, no direction and no mandate. The Conservatives may be scaling back on their domestic agenda now that they have no majority to deliver it.”