A BIT CONFLICTED HERE

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Understandable that a government minister would want to keep stuff quiet to spare his blushes, given that he was so confident that Brexit was going to be the best thing ever. However…

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…Not Mr Davis, you’d have thought. Wooops.

 

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Judicial Review on legality of UK Government witholding Sectoral and Regional Reports on Consequence of Brexit: Jolyon Maugham

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There has been some discussion today about the government’s intention to withhold the results of analyses that it has carried out into the effects of Brexit on “sectors” or “regions” within the UK. By now most of us will have read somewhere that Scotland and England’s North East are likely to suffer the most.

 

Jo Maugham, QC is “on it”. When it comes to law, Jo is a good guy to have on your side. Here, on a Twitter threat, he explains his arguments, and (we should not be surprised about this now) the fact that the government doesn’t actually know what it is doing or why it is doing it. Hammond and Davies don’t talk, or something?

Anyway, it is fair to tell you that Jo wrote all of this, not Munguin, and that we copied it wholesale from here.

We did so because we think as many people as possible should see it… and not everyone is on Twitter or follows Jo Maugham.

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Our judicial review tries to force Govt to make public its secret reports showing how Brexit will affect eg agriculture or car making.

We think democracy can’t function without truth and transparency. That’s what went wrong in June 2016. It can’t happen again.

Govt says ‘it will hurt our negotiating hand if the EU knows how badly Brexit will hit the UK.’ Like, somehow, the EU can’t do modelling.

And Govt released an impact assessment on Brexit before the Referendum. If it was the right thing to do then, how can it be wrong now?

And there’s a stream of ‘good news stories’ from Liam Fox. It makes you wonder: Good Brexit stories good, bad Brexit stories bad?

Anyway, the truth is, there’s nothing in these reports the EU can’t work out for itself. So why won’t the Government release them?

What’s unique about these reports is that they come from the Government’s hand. So Government can’t say: “We don’t accept this analysis.”

Is the fact that they possess a unique ability to embarrass Government a good *political* reason to keep them secret? Why, of course!

Is the fact that they possess a unique ability to embarrass Government a good *legal* reason to keep them secret? Umm, no. Hence our JR.

There’s also a rather good subplot. Alongside the *sectorial* analyses, there are also *regional* analyses.

We know there are regional analyses because Hammond said there were.

But if you ask DExEU for the regional analyses, they claim that even to tell you whether they *exist* would harm the national interest.

Which is kind of funny for a number of reasons. First off, it’s just ludicrous. How can knowing whether they exist be harmful?

Second, how can it be fine for us to know there are sectorial analyses but not regional analyses?

Third, Hammond has told us they exist. How can it harm the national interest for a civil servant to confirm the Chancellor wasn’t lying? /15

The reality is, they’ve worked out the sectoral analyses are a hot potato and don’t want another one – regional analyses – to juggle.

Is this a good *political* reason to deny they exist? Not really, as Hammond has admitted they exist. And it’s no *legal* reason at all.

If this all feels to you like a right bloody shambles, then so far so good: you’re following my thread. But there’s more.

We know the EU knows what Brexit means, including for the UK, because they’ve *published a study*.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/595374/IPOL_STU(2017)595374_EN.pdf

And, richest of all ironies? The man refusing to confirm the sun will rise tomorrow for fear of political embarrassment is David Davis.

Would that be the same David Davis who wrote this paragraph? Before being a Minister? Reader, it would.

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We also found this. We’ve no idea who the minister is or to whom he said it, but it’s more or less what we have been thinking:

 

IF EVER THERE WAS A TIME THAT WE NEEDED PROPER LEADERSHIP IT IS NOW. AND WHAT HAVE WE GOT?

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A “no deal” Brexit will mean less money for the struggling NHS and for cash-starved social care, the Chancellor has admitted.

But wait, what happened to the £350 million a week?

Philip Hammond is the first Cabinet minister to say it was “theoretically possible” that crashing out of the EU without an agreement would ground all flights.

And unless they come to agreements over Open Skies, that’s what will happen.

Mr Hammond appeared to be at odds with Mrs May when he noted that there was a  prospect of terrorists targeting new infrastructure at or near the border – despite the Prime Minister ruling out a hard border. An Taosiseach Leo Varadkar said last month that solutions were unlikely to be found and insisted that it was down to the UK to resolve the issue, adding that Ireland would not help design a “border for the Brexiteers.”

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Over 100 MPs have written to David Davis asking him to publish the impact assessments they say that the government has done, but refused to make public. Refusing to let us know how bad it would be is surely a dereliction of duty and impeding the work of parliament in scrutinising the work of the executive.

What a mess!

Looking at snippets of Prime Minister’s Questions today, I was thinking that, if ever there was a time to have a strong and stable prime minister with a bunch of dedicated, intelligent, hardworking, visionary ministers, it was now.

Then I listened to her stammering and spluttering her way through non-answers to the perfectly reasonable questions that Jeremy Corbyn was putting to her on the utter chaos surrounding their Universal Credit scheme, and I began to wonder if I was living in some sort of Grimms Fairy Tale.

Shortly afterwards I caught a bit of Liz Truss’s car crash interview with Andrew Neil, and then I knew that I was.

THE BALL’S IN THEIR COURT

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Apparently Mrs May is set to tell the Commons that, following her speech in Florence (where she told the Europeans that we had never liked them anyway, and always felt awkward in the same room as them…wasn’t she supposedly a remainer?), it was now up to them to come forward with a solution.

It seems to be “job done” as far as she is concerned.

This, from the text of her speech to Europe:

On the other hand, it seems that Philip Hammond says this:

And here’s wee Foxy.

And that appears to be true at VERY considerable costs. From the Telegraph:

Theresa May has decided to commit billions of pounds on preparing Britain to leave the European Union without a deal in a bid to save her premiership.

The spending, which will be “unlocked” in the new year if no progress is made with Brussels, is intended to send a signal to pro-Brexit MPs that she is serious about regaining the upper hand in the negotiations.

Dominic Raab tells the BBC that planning to leave with no deal is underway. The cost of this will be billions.

(So she’s prepared to spend billions on saving her premiership, according to a hardline Tory paper.  That magic money tree is beginning to look as if it is her personal property, to be used only in the event of some event threatening to derail her.)

It’s all very well throwing the ball to Europe and telling them it’s in their court but they seem to be throwing several different types of ball. Mr Barnier doesn’t know whether he needs a tennis racquet, a baseball bat, a golf club or a pair of football boots.

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But we can’t help thinking that “the ball’s on the slates”, rather than on anyone else’s court.

Wouldn’t be nice if Britain had a realistic coherent policy on Brexit?

  • With thanks to Ian Dunt for the quotes from May, Hammond’s ally and Fox.
  • Theresa May will say in the Commons today that after her Florence speech, “the ball is in [the EU’s] court”.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Tony Blair

It seems that Tony Blair has put himself forward as a peace negotiator between Spain and Catalonia.  Apparently the Devil is too busy.

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Oh noooooo… it seems to have happened

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… there has been a schism in the UKIP. Anne Marie Waters is having a party!

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All the talk this morning seems to be about Mrs May. The pound has fallen again, even against the Euro (which is damaged by the situation in Catalonia).

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Grant Shapps appears to be the driving force in the “plot” to remove her, which must be a comfort to her, as, to date, he’s been spectacularly unspectacular in most of what he’s ever done. Govey is fighting her corner, reminding anyone bored enough to listen that 14 million people (slight exaggeration) voted for her in the General Election. I’m not sure that Govey fighting your corner is much of an asset, but then who have to remember how close Govey is to Mr Murdoch! And Mr Murdoch fighting your corner is an altogether different kettle of fish.

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BONG, £29 MILLION, BONG, £61 MILLION, BONG…???

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The Elizabeth Tower holding the iconic Big Ben bell needed some repair.

It was decided that this repair should go ahead.

So the parliamentary authorities called a restoration company, who presumably came and looked at h job and estimated £29 million to do the job over a period of four years.

Because of the proximity of workmen to the bell (and the fact that the parliamentary clock team were going to take the opportunity to repair and service the clock), it was estimated that the chimes of Big Ben would not be heard for four years while the work progressed. (Can you imagine what working in the bell tower while the massive bell rang out on the hour every hour every day, would do to people’s hearing?)

This caused an uproar in the houses of parliament and, even in the middle of Brexit worries, the exalted personage of the prime minister, her right honourable self, complained about the length of time that the bell would be silenced.

Mrs May said: “Of course we want to ensure people’s safety at work but it can’t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years. And I hope that the Speaker, as the chairman of the House of Commons commission, will look into this urgently so that we can ensure that we can continue to hear Big Ben through those four years.”

Mrs May is good at making a lot of noise about little things, but less so when it comes to anything important.

Note from Munguin: This is an old story, Tris, what’s your point in raking it up again, amusing though it was.

OK, Munguin, keep yer scarf on. I’m getting to that.

 

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There’s a load of large empty buildings in Newcastle. Why not move the whole thing there?

 

Anyway, it seems that the repairers weren’t too expert on the old estimating part of the job. And instead of the £29 million quoted a few months ago, it’s actually going to cost £61 million. Well, at least until the next update!

A spokeswoman for the House of Commons told the Press Association: “The commissioners expressed their disappointment in the cost increases, and the unreliability of the original estimate. But they  reiterated their commitment to preserving the Elizabeth Tower and Great Clock for future generations.”

Oh goodie!

Just two brief observations, then:

I assume that, given the more than doubling of the cost, the length of the project will increase by a similar proportion. So maybe 8-9 years before Big Ben is heard over London again? How will the MPs who were crying at the final “bongs” ever manage? What will May say?

And, of course, it is worth noting that the repairs to the tower are only a tiny part of the total renovation of the parliamentary buildings which has been variously estimated as costing £4 billion, £5.7 billion, and £7.1 billion and taking up to 30 years.

Does this mean that we can expect to pay up to £15 billion and wait over 60 years for the builders to finish?

Who organised this chaotic mess? Oh yeah, the British government! Nuff said.

Oh yeah, the British government! Nuff said.

And they think they can deliver Brexit????