Posts Tagged ‘david miliband’

Time for a second referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union — End the politics of grievance — Former British foreign minister David Miliband

August 13, 2017


LONDON (Reuters) – Former British foreign minister David Miliband called on Saturday for voters to be given a second referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union.

Writing in the Observer newspaper Miliband, foreign minister under a Labour government between 2007 and 2010, called Brexit an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm” and said there should be another public vote once the final terms of Britain’s exit are known.

Although no longer a serving British politician, Miliband – brother of former Labour leader Ed Miliband – is still seen as an influential centrist voice.

His criticism joins that of a growing number of pro-EU figures from across the political spectrum who say Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy is economically damaging and that voters should be given a chance to halt the process.

Reporting by William James, editing by David Evans



Tory Brexit policy is chaotic: the fightback against this stitch-up must begin at once


Democracy did not end in June last year. It is essential MPs have a say on the future or the country may be driven off a cliff
David Miliband

David Miliband says Brexit was an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm”  GETTY IMAGE

For many years Britons and Americans have been proud of the quality of their governance. Yet today our politics and government are setting new standards for dysfunction. Rather than stability and global leadership there is confusion.

The US is suffering from a serious inability to legislate. There is a genuine risk of the country defaulting on its debts. Jeb Bush called Donald Trump the “chaos candidate”, but as the American writer Jonathan Rauch has pointed out the Trump candidacy was the product of political chaos – in campaign finance, for example – not its cause.

Meanwhile, Britain is suffering its own governability crisis. Leaving the EU was mis-sold as a quick fix. Now it looks like a decade-long process of unscrambling the eggs of national and European legislation. Ministers cannot even agree among themselves the destination, the route map or the vehicles to get us there.

This transatlantic malaise has a common root: politics based on what you are against, not what you are for. Look at the campaigns against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and against the EU. There is a common trope: the politics of grievance.

Complaints about individual policies became attacks against a whole institutional architecture. There were outright lies in both campaigns. And there was a complete (and effective) refusal to describe, never mind debate, what would replace the status quo.

Healthcare makes up nearly a fifth of the US economy – about $1tn larger than the whole UK economy. Support for Obamacare is growing, dramatically, because the alternative has finally been spelled out. It turns out that populism is popular until it has to make decisions.

In Britain, the implementation of the EU referendum decision has been rash and chaotic. The timing and content has been governed by factions in the Tory party. Our negotiating position is a mystery – even on immigration.

So the fightback against the worst consequences of the referendum has the opportunity and responsibility to get its bearings fast. Recent calls from Stephen Kinnock, Heidi Alexander and William Hague for Britain to embrace the European Economic Area are sensible. Nick Clegg’s point that a reformed Europe centred on the euro implies outer rings which Britain should consider also makes sense.

I never thought I would say this, but the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is also playing a valiant role. The transition he supports is vital. However, a transition postpones a rupture rather than avoiding it. Slow Brexit does not mean soft Brexit. Steve Baker, minister in the department leading the negotiations, has been refreshingly honest in saying the transition period is a “soft landing for a hard Brexit”. We have been warned.

The case against the EU depends on avoiding a discussion of the alternative. It is the equivalent of voting to repeal Obamacare without knowing the replacement. It is a stitch-up. That is one reason it is essential that parliament or the public are given the chance to have a straight vote between EU membership and the negotiated alternative. That is a democratic demand, not just a prudent one.

People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on 23 June 2016. The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff. MPs are there to exercise judgment. Delegating to Theresa May and David Davis, never mind Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, the settlement of a workable alternative to EU membership is a delusion, not just an abdication.

Brexit is an unparalleled act of economic self-harm. But it was a big mistake to reduce the referendum to this question. The EU represents a vision of society and politics, not just economics. We need to fight on this ground too.

The Europe of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel stands for pluralism, minority rights, the rule of law, international co-operation – and not just a single market. In fact, the real truth about the single market has been lost in translation.

It is not just a market. It is a vision of the good society. Rights (and holidays) for employees, limits on oligopolies, standards for the environment are there to serve the vision. The single market stands against a market society.

This is all the more important in a world where autocratic leadership is on the march. This is not just about China or Russia. The democratic world is itself splitting into authoritarian and pluralist camps. We can see Venezuela has taken a repressive turn. Within the EU, there is a battle to hold Hungary and Poland to their commitments, and Brexit weakens that effort.

And the US is not immune. John Cassidy of the New Yorker has coined the notion of “democratic erosion” – gerrymandered congressional districts, voter suppression and attacks on the media. Half of Republican voters say they would support the decision if President Trump postponed the next election.

The EU is not just a group of neighbouring countries. It is a coalition of democratic states which pledge to advance human rights, the rule of law and democratic rules. That is not a threat to Britain; it is the team we should be in.

So Britain’s choice about its institutional future is not just about pounds and pence. I favour the closest possible relationship with the EU, not only for economic reasons. The EEA does not just make business sense. Europe represents a vital and historic alliance of democracies, founded on the idea that social, economic and political rights go together and that countries best defend them in unison not isolation.

History makes the point. The post-second world war commitments to rights for individuals have their immediate political origins in the Atlantic Charter, agreed between Churchill and Roosevelt in Newfoundland in 1941. It set out the terms of postwar peace – notably human rights, national self-determination and international co-operation. It was called the “birth certificate of the west” by the former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer.

The insight was simple. Globalisation without rules and institutions would not mean more control for ordinary citizens. It would mean less. And less control means more risk to the living standards of those in greatest need. International co-operation was and is a force for social justice and against turbo-capitalism.

President Eisenhower said when you had an insoluble problem, enlarge it. The debate about transitional arrangements and institutional design of our relationship with the EU craves a broader framework. There is nothing more fundamental than the economic, social and political rights that looked like the norm at the end of the cold war. Now they are in retreat. Europe is their bastion. And that is the side we should be on.

David Miliband is president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid, relief and development NGO based in New York. He is writing in a personal capacity


Philip Hammond and Liam Fox in post-Brexit deal call

August 13, 2017

BBC News

Philip Hammond and Liam Fox
Philip Hammond and Liam Fox have previously held opposing views on the Brexit process. Reuters photo

The UK will need a transition period to help businesses adjust after Brexit, the chancellor and the international trade secretary have said.

In a joint Sunday Telegraph article, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox stressed any deal would not be indefinite or a “back door” to staying in the EU.

Their comments are being seen as an attempt to show unity between rival sides in Theresa May’s cabinet.

It comes as ministers start to set out their detailed aims for Brexit.

A series of papers are being published, including one this week covering what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after the UK has left the EU.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hammond and Mr Fox said the UK definitely will leave both the customs union and the single market when it exits the EU in March 2019.

They said a “time-limited” transition period would “further our national interest and give business greater certainty” – but warned it would not stop Brexit.

EU official hanging a Union Jack flag next to an EU flag

“We are both clear that during this period the UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union and will be a ‘third-country’ not party to EU treaties,” they said. Reuters photo

They said the UK’s borders “must continue to operate smoothly”, that goods bought on the internet “must still cross borders”, and “businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU” in the weeks and months after Brexit.

The two leading politicians said the government wanted to ensure “there will not be a cliff-edge when we leave the EU”.

Cabinet unity

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Mr Hammond – who is seen to favour a “softer” approach to Brexit – and Mr Fox, one of the most prominent pro-Brexit ministers, had “previously appeared at loggerheads” over the government’s strategy on leaving the EU.

Mr Hammond has raised the prospect of a Brexit deal that saw little immediate change on issues such as immigration – something Brexiteers have rejected.

But our correspondent said their article was an attempt to “prove cabinet unity on Brexit”.

David Miliband
David Miliband said Brexit was an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm”  GETTY IMAGES

Meanwhile, former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called for politicians on all sides to unite to fight back against the “worst consequences” of Brexit.

He described the outcome of last year’s referendum as an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm”.

Writing in the Observer, he said: “People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on June 23, 2016.

“The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff.”

Negotiations between Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU officials are set to resume at the end of this month.

Mr Davis said the publication of the papers outlining the government’s aims for Brexit would mark “an important next step” towards delivering the referendum vote to leave the EU.


See also The Telegraph

Britain will not stay in EU by the back door, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox jointly declare

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, bury the hatchet with a joint pledge that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU.  CREDIT:REUTERS

Britain will not stay in the European Union by the “backdoor” and will completely leave the single market and customs union after Brexit in 2019, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox have declared.

After a summer of bitter Cabinet infighting, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, appear to bury the hatchet with a joint pledge that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU.

In an article written for the Telegraph, the ministers – representing the Remain and Leave wings of the Tory party –  say this will be “time limited” and designed to avoid a “cliff edge” that could damage British business.

Although they do not say how long this period will last, it will not represent an attempt to stay in the EU indefinitely, they say.

Dr Fox

Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, has made a joint pledge with Philip Hammond that there will be a fixed transition period after leaving the EU.  CREDIT: AP

Theresa May, who returns to work after her walking holiday this week, will be hoping that the declaration of resolve by…

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Hillary Clinton may have broken US secrecy rules with emails from Tony Blair and Downing Street

September 2, 2015

New emails show Clinton had sensitive information from Blair and UK officials on her personal email

J. William Leonard said the British messages handled by Mrs Clinton’s personal email account were “born classified” Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Hillary Clinton may have broken US secrecy rules by handling classified information from Tony Blair and the British government on her personal email account.

Newly disclosed emails from Mrs Clinton’s time as US secretary of state show she regularly received sensitive details from Mr Blair and UK officials on an email server based in her home in New York.

The former prime minister, writing on his own personal account, sent notes on his work as Middle East peace envoy while Mrs Clinton’s aides passed on briefings from Downing Street on Northern Ireland.

Under US secrecy rules classified information should not be shared by email because of the risk it could be intercepted by foreign hackers. The FBI is now investigating the security of the email server.

The British messages, which are now classified, are fueling Republican accusations that Mrs Clinton mishandled secret information and therefore “cannot be trusted with the White House”.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has jumped back into presidential politics, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House in 2016 with a promise to serve as the "champion" of everyday Americans in a country with growing income inequality.

September 2010: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chats with former Prime Minister Tony Blair   Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

The controversy continues to dog Mrs Clinton’s presidential campaign as the US State Department’s releases monthly batches of her emails in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Among the more than 7,000 pages released this week were messages in which Mrs Clinton received a stream of warnings about senior Conservative party figures in the days after they took power in the 2010 election.

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend of Mrs Clinton’s and a Labour ally, told the then-US secretary of state to be wary of David Cameron’s new government.

“On economic policy, the UK is no partner and no bridge to Europe,” Mr Blumenthal wrote six weeks after the British election.

Mr Blumenthal also cautioned Mrs Clinton not to trust William Hague, then foreign secretary, saying he was “deeply anti-European and will be disingenuous with you”.

Other messages provided further evidence that Cherie Blair directly lobbied Mrs Clinton on behalf of the Qatari government, and there were consolation emails between Mrs Clinton and David Miliband after he lost the Labour leadership election to his brother Ed.

The emails from Mr Blair, who used an account titled “aclb” – the initials of his full name Anthony Charles Lynton Blair – are largely redacted but appear to include information about a three-hour meeting he had with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in September 2010.

US officials have now classified Mr Blair’s emails because they include “foreign government information provided with the expectation of confidentiality”. They are due to remain secret until 2035.

An email from Tony Blair to Hillary Clinton and her aide, Jake Sullivan

Mrs Clinton’s campaign argues that the information was not marked classified at the time it was sent and therefore she did not break any secrecy laws.

However, US rules state that some information shared by allied governments is automatically treated as classified and should not be shared by email, regardless of whether it is marked secret.

“It’s born classified,” J. William Leonard, the former head of classification rules for the US government, told Reuters.

Several other British messages in Mrs Clinton’s inbox are now being treated as classified and the information they contain may have been secret from the moment it was shared.

In a January 2010 email, one of Mrs Clinton’s aides passed on information from Downing Street about “poisonous” negotiations in Northern Ireland.

Sections of the emails appear to have been redacted because they contain information passed on by the British government in confidence.

Part of the redacted message about Northern Ireland

A long email sent by an aide to David Miliband, then foreign secretary, includes notes on a 2010 visit he made to Afghanistan. The aide stressed it was for Mrs Clinton’s eyes only that Mr Miliband “very much wants the Secretary (only) to see this note”.

The message has now been marked confidential by the US government and will not be released until 2029.

This email was sent by David Miliband’s aide

Around 125 of the newly-released emails contain information the US government now considers secret, sparking a fresh round of Republican attacks on Mrs Clinton.

“On hundreds of occasions, Hillary Clinton’s reckless attempt to skirt transparency laws put sensitive information and our national security at risk,” said Reince Preibus, head of the Republican National Committee.

“With the FBI continuing to investigate, Hillary Clinton’s growing email scandal shows she cannot be trusted with the White House.”

The email controversy appears to have damaged Mrs Clinton politically anda recent poll in three key states found that two in three voters do not believe she is “honest and trustworthy”.

Mrs Clinton remains the Democratic front runner and her aides say the email issue has been politicised by Republicans and seized on by the media but is of little interest to the general public.

The emails also show Mrs Clinton requesting skim milk for her tea, asking what time The Good Wife and Parks and Recreation are on television, and inquiring about a shipment of gefilte fish to Israel.


Hillary Clinton emails

Picture: Don Emmert/AFP

“On economic policy, the UK is no partner and no bridge to Europe”

– Aide Sidney Blumenthal to Clinton six weeks after the election

“Losing is tough. When you win the party members and the MPs doubly so. (When it’s your brother…)”

– David Miliband to Clinton four days after losing the Labour leadership

“As you know I have good links to the Qataris”

– Cherie Blair lobbying Clinton to meet members of the Qatari royal family

“Gefilte fish… Where are we on this?”

– Clinton tracking a trade dispute over nine containers of the Jewish fish dish

“I love you. I respect you. I miss you. I cherish every moment of our remarkable journey together. God Speed. Dear Sis”

– Old friend Roy Spence to Clinton

“Can you give me times for two TV shows: Parks and Recreation and The Good Wife?”

Britain and US at Past International Summits: Phones Monitored, Fake Internet Cafes Set Up to Gather information, Intelligence From Allies

June 17, 2013

Exclusive: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009

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The Guardian,        Sunday 16 June 2013

GCHQ composite

Documents uncovered by the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, reveal surveillance of G20 delegates’ emails and BlackBerrys. Photograph: Guardian

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.

The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian. They reveal that during G20 meetings in April and September 2009 GCHQ used what one document calls “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to intercept the communications of visiting delegations.

This included:

• Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates’ use of computers;

• Penetrating the security on delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls;

• Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit;

• Targeting the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party;

• Receiving reports from an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow.

The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, and that intelligence, including briefings for visiting delegates, was passed to British ministers.

A briefing paper dated 20 January 2009 records advice given by GCHQ officials to their director, Sir Iain Lobban, who was planning to meet the then foreign secretary, David Miliband. The officials summarised Brown’s aims for the meeting of G20 heads of state due to begin on 2 April, which was attempting to deal with the economic aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. The briefing paper added: “The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG’s desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it.” Two documents explicitly refer to the intelligence product being passed to “ministers”.

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Farewell to the Al Gore of British politics: David Miliband

March 27, 2013

Britain’s James Kirkup is Deputy Political Editor for the Daily Telegraph and Based at Westminster, he has been a lobby journalist since 2001. Before joining the Telegraph he was Political Editor of the Scotsman and covered European politics and economics for Bloomberg.

 David Miliband quits. Farewell to the Al Gore of British politics

By Politics Last updated:  March 27th, 2013


David Miliband, on the threshold which he'll now never cross

David Miliband, on the threshold which he’ll now never cross

Listen to some people in both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party today and we are witnessing an epoch-changing event, the departure from the stage of a political titan. David Miliband, apparently, bestrode the narrow world like a colossus. We shall not see his like again. Westminster is a changed place today, and a diminished one. And so on.

Personally, I think that’s all a bit much, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute.

First though, a thought on the Death-of-New-Labour theme being pushed this morning, especially by the Conservatives. Essentially, it’s true, but it’s not new. Arguably, New Labour did not survive Tony Blair’s departure in 2007; unarguably, it did not survive the 2010 leadership election. And while it’s had its devotees – and still does, even now – none of them, whatever their virtues, have the stature or prominence of their spiritual leader.

Admitting that Blairism did not really outlive Blair is uncomfortable for its adherents, which partly explains the roseate revisionism over David Miliband and his career: if only this, if only that, then our way would still be Labour’s way. We’re right and we’re better than the other lot, but events have conspired against us.

Events matter, but let’s not ignore the basic fact of David Miliband’s political career: he was a disappointment who never lived up to his friends’ hopes and botched every opportunity he had to take a really big job. If he was New Labour’s best hope, its prospects really weren’t very good.

Think back to 2008, when he wrote a deliberately provocative Guardian article, positioning himself as a potential leadership rival to Gordon Brown. It could have been the start of a coup against a failing prime minister; many of his friends certainly hoped so. It wasn’t, because Mr Miliband backed down: faced with a political onslaught from the Brown machine, he blinked.

Then in summer 2009, when James Purnell put his money where his Blairite mouth was and quit Mr Brown’s Cabinet. If Mr Miliband had followed, there’s a fair chance Mr Brown would have fallen and Mr Miliband would have replaced him. If political victory belongs to the bold and audacious, Mr Miliband proved that night that he was neither.

(Later that year, he could also have gone to Brussels as a European Commissioner; eventually, he decided against it. So Cathy Ashton went instead. But that’s a whole different issue.)

Then there’s the 2010 election fight against his brother. Yes, the nasty trade unions went against him. Yes, his impertinent sibling dared to challenge him for a job he assumed was his by right. Well, life is tough sometimes, and if you want something, you have to fight for it. Mr Miliband didn’t look like a man prepared to fight for the job his brother now holds.

For instance, if Mr Miliband had managed to win around more of his fellow MPs in 2010, he’d have won. He didn’t do that, something many of his colleagues put down to the fact that he didn’t really bother trying to persuade them to support him: they felt he assumed they’d vote for him automatically so he didn’t need bother.

That failure to win more MPs’ votes ranks alongside Al Gore’s failure to win his home state in 2000 as a decisive yet avoidable political error. It’s also overlooked, and in a similarly revisionist way, by those who didn’t like the consequences of that error. The basic fact is that if Mr Gore had bothered to win Tennessee, he’d have been president regardless of Florida and the hanging chads. And if Mr Miliband had won his parliamentary colleagues’ support, he’d have been leader with or without the unions. Both are stories of failure, not injustice.

Discussing Labour politics since 2010, some Labour people talk as if David Miliband won the argument but lost on some technicality. As if that matters. As if anything other than the result counts. If there’s one thing Tony Blair tried to teach the Labour Party it’s this: victory is all, defeat is nothing. In politics, you win or you lose, and David Miliband lost. Now, more than two years later, he’s finally admitting it.

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