Weekly News Review
Editors weekly poke. Hi – I’m Rob Woodward, this weeks editor for the news review.
It’s another depressing week for anyone keeping an eye on what’s really going on. Although the potential for a vaccine to end the misery of Covid-19 was uplifting for a day or two, it wasn’t long before this government brings its dark cloud of misery upon us all by screwing up everything it turns its pernicious hand to. For instance – Boris Johnson has set up a secretive unit in Downing Street to co-ordinate the government’s response to the “nightmare scenario” of a no-deal Brexit added to a surge in Covid-19 cases and extreme winter weather.
The winter control and co-ordination cell, based in No 10, will provide daily confidential briefings to the prime minister on emerging threats. This ‘secret cell’ was only formed this week – obviously an after-thought. Before the creation of this new ‘unit’ – did they think the vaccine would end the pandemic in a couple of weeks? Did they think winter wasn’t coming? Did they believe their own Brexit lies and sunny uplands would turn up on January 1st by magic? Ironically, it says something when your ‘secret unit’ is on the front page of a national newspaper (source).
An article in The Guardian this week agrees with what TruePublica has been saying for some now by pointing out that corruption is taking serious hold in Britain. It asks – “what if there is an ideological agenda being cunningly and cynically executed during this time of crisis?” Gina Miller, the transparency activist who took legal action to prevent Boris Johnson proroguing parliament writes an incisive piece that answers much of this question (source). And although we at TruePublica have been saying this slippery slope has been in play for some five years now – if you really want to see what Miller is saying, then this week, there was yet more confirmation.
“New laws to curb protests which threaten democracy is quite the phrase. We have a five-yearly democratic event which hands absolute power to the Government. In the years that follow, the right to protest is all there is of democracy. Be very afraid.” These are the words of Joe Maugham QC – director of the Good Law Project, barrister and Honourary Professor at Durham Law School. Maugham is of the opinion that new laws being proposed by the Home Secretary to make it illegal for protesters to obstruct Parliament, the courts, and the distribution of newspapers or broadcast media in a way that prevents them exercising their democratic duties is just part of the slippery slope. Human rights campaigners Liberty said – “The proposed law is a clear threat to democracy and another attack on our ability to stand up to power.”
And talking of abuse of office – Boris Johnson is now facing an unprecedented legal challenge over his decision to clear Priti Patel of bullying her officials. Lawyers acting on behalf of senior civil servants issued a pre-action notice to Downing Street yesterday accusing the prime minister of acting unlawfully by overruling the findings of his own independent adviser and clearing the home secretary of misconduct. The notice, which is the first step towards a judicial review of Mr Johnson’s decision, states that if it were allowed to stand it would set a “damaging precedent” that would exempt ministers from being bound by normal employment practices (source).
As for the Covid crisis and the endemic corruption we’ve been reporting for months, the government continues to see lawsuits piling up for its negligence, overt malfeasance and abuse of office. It doesn’t just stop at families pursing the government for the loss of life, it now goes all the way to their procurement practices, cronyism, nepotism and even appointments to roles. They are being sued for not disclosing which companies were involved in ‘Operation moonshot’ involving a massive taxpayer cost of £100billion but also for the many unpublished ‘Covid contracts’ that are enriching undisclosed individuals – many close to MP’s themselves (source).
Even more depressing was confirmation form the Social Market Foundation that nearly 2 million children have gone short of food during the pandemic (source). This ties in with another study that says destitution levels in Great Britain are expected to double in the wake of the pandemic with an estimated 2 million families, including a million children, likely to struggle to afford to feed themselves, stay warm, or keep clean as the recession deepens. The estimates, carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, described “increasing and intensifying” levels of extreme poverty experienced by some of the country’s poorest households in recent years, and highlight a social security system increasingly failing to protect society’s most vulnerable (source).
To make matters worse for those unfortunate enough to have slipped to the bottom end of Britain’s ladder – the experience is made even more terrifying for some when the government sends its thugs to demand money with menaces. HMRC revenue officials have written to and sent third party debt collectors to families struggling to settle bills during the pandemic and threatened to “take things you own and sell them.” Letters have been sent accusing people on low incomes of “deliberately” choosing not to pay taxes. They are warned that officials “can take money directly from your bank or building society accounts”. HMRC has been roundly condemned for causing “distress” and “emotional trauma” (source). An investigation by The Times newspaper found that HMRC has passed on 4.5 million personal records to private debt collectors without taxpayers’ specific consent and they are ‘incentivised to maximise takings’ (source).
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One of the issues that initially surprised me the most about the Boris Johnson administration was the scale and breadth of the deception used to get into office. But the tactics being used to stay there are really quite breath-taking. And that’s part of the problem when a government uses disinformation and deceit as its main form of communication. Eventually, like all liars – they get found out.
For instance, in the fight against Covid-19, Boris Johnson promised action to tackle online “disinformation” about vaccines that could prevent take-up. A YouGov poll found that 33 per cent would not, or likely not take the vaccine and 25 per cent only fairly likely to (source). Doubts about the vaccine come from different sources – some of them are valid, but when the people disregard their leaders in such important decisions – it’s a big problem. There is an irony that Boris Johnson doesn’t get. His whose whole ascent to power was fuelled almost entirely by disinformation campaigns, many that were ruled illegal – and only now does he say for reasons of convienience that disinformation has to be combatted.
It is the same with Brexit. We are now able to calculate how many of the easiest trade deals in history we were promised. It turns out, not so many. In fact, only one-third of the trade Britain does with the EU as a whole has been replaced after four and a half years with new trade deals that we already had (source). It also turns out that promises over imports and exports are evaporating as ports are now clogged up and certain supplies are being reported as getting thin on the ground. This is no better demonstrated than by Honda’s announcement that its UK motor factory is closing due to parts shortage. Honda confirmed to employees production “will not run on Wednesday 9 December due to transport-related parts delays” (source). This is the first of many we will be hearing about quite soon.
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee reports that – “Shortages of medicines are becoming an increasingly frequent issue that can hinder pharmacy teams’ efforts to dispense medicines in a timely manner. PSNC is very concerned about the impact that current supply problems are having on pharmacy teams’ workload and about the potential impact on their patients.” (source).
The UK relies on fresh produce from mainland Europe and the right-wing press labelled the whole idea of shortages due to Brexit as being nothing more than ‘project fear (source). However, reality tells us something else because the first disaster of 2021 is likely to be some sort of initial food shortages. Although the government had been publicly rubbishing the idea of Brexit related food shortages they knew what was going to happen. It even sent out notices through the Dept of Education to warn schools, colleges and local authorities of food shortages (source) but not to the wider general public.
The ‘levelling up plan’ the government promised has been uncovered as little more than a fabrication. The Manchester Evening News reported this week that – “One year after the general election, it concludes the ‘levelling up’ agenda is still ‘most striking for its lack of detail.‘ What else did anyone expect from Boris Johnson – a man whose ability to communicate anything is legendary only for the absence of truth (source).
Then there was the promise, in fact, a ‘flagship ambition’ of 300,000 new homes a year’. The government now admits that not only do they not have a plan – they never did. MPs have condemned “policy invention, abandonment and reinvention, wasting time and resources on policies that in the end come to nothing” (source).
As for Brexit, the nightmare continues with yet another deadline – this Sunday. Our report this week on the psychodrama of Brexit really says that what is going on is all staged and designed to make us all think that this government are fighting an intransigent EU who simply won’t negotiate. It’s all nonsense. If anything, the reality of Brexit is now plain for Johnson to see. Unless he backs down, there’s no deal. And if he does, he’ll arrive back at Downing Street being hounded by his own party – and he won’t last long. Almost all of the news correspondents in Brussels right now are confirming that the leaders of EU member states have given up on Britain and no-one seems confident now that a deal will be done. That is unless yet another deadline is announced – quite likely to be New year’s Eve. Who knows.
Throughout all of this, we should not forget the basic fundamental promises made by the architects of the Leave campaign, which was significantly led by Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove. We should also not forget the criminality of this campaign, especially in light of new evidence connecting Johnson, Gove and Cummings to the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal (source). They promised that Britain would be part of the EU’s free trade zone and that they would negotiate the terms of the deal BEFORE putting the country through the legal process (source). As we have witnessed – that was all a lie.
The Conservative Party website makes these explicit promises dated Nov23rd 2019 (HERE) prior to his election. That – Boris Johnson has negotiated a great new deal with the EU (He hadn’t). That – Sets a path to a future relationship based on friendship and trade (it didn’t). That – Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal sets a clear future for the UK (there was no deal). And that – It gives certainty to EU citizens here and UK citizens abroad (a blatant lie).
Before Rishi Sunak was appointed to No11 Downing Street, he too was bleating on about the easiest deal in history. Jim Pickard at the FT reminds us of Sunak’s promises – “We don’t a plan for no-deal, because we have a deal. There is going to be a trade deal. Everybody said we wouldn’t be able to get this deal, but we have got this deal.” He was either completely wrong or lied through his teeth. Quite how that huge ‘misunderstanding’ of reality relates to him being qualified to be Chancellor of the Exchequer is beyond me.
All of this, and let’s call out Brexit for exactly what it is – a failure – is generating critical commentary from those more qualified than those in the cabinet.
Jessica Simor QC rightly points out that – “One of many tragedies of this Brexit farce is that many Ministers will even now – in the face of their catastrophic failure – still not suffer a single moment of self-doubt. They will still believe themselves clever, knowledgeable and meant for public office” (source).
Jonathan Lis, Director at Influence group also points out that whilst fishing might be ‘totemic’ as they keep saying, it belies logic – “I just can’t understand why the government is so keen to preserve the rights of fishers to catch stocks they won’t be able to sell – and so completely untroubled by it throw every British lamb producer to the wall” (source).
Tim Walker at The New European reports from a correspondent in Brussels: ‘You were a significant EU member when all this began in 2016, but that significance – in terms of economic strength, your City, key industries, diplomatic clout, relationship with the US – has since been degraded. We can now afford to lose you’ (source).
Bloomberg News reports that – Instead of prodding Germany into a Brexit deal against French wishes, the U.K. prime minister is binding them closer together and not only has his divide and rule failed – no-one is listening to him anymore. “The problem for Johnson is that nobody’s taking his bait. What drives this unity is the sense that signing a bad deal with Johnson, who has a reputation for reneging on agreements, could have longer-lasting consequences for the EU single market than the disruption of a no-deal scenario.” This is what happens when trust goes out the window and a career liar is sent to represent you (source).
And here, we have some Brexit dividends that keep bearing its never-ending gifts. This week, it is confirmed that British tourists will have to pay higher insurance premiums to plug a £156 million annual shortfall in the cost of medical treatment in mainland Europe, according to research. Insurance companies are almost certain to increase premiums for holidays in EU member states when access to cut-price healthcare comes to an end next month, according to Which? That wasn’t on the side of a bus, was it? (source).
And they keep coming. The additional red-tape that British importers and exporters will have to endure was initially calculated to be in the region of £3.5billion. However, that was adjusted last June a tiny bit by 100 per cent to £7billion. That equates to a bill of £259 per household across the entire country – just for paperwork. However, if a no-deal scenario becomes reality, the true cost – that of red-tape and expected tariffs has been calculated to be an eye-watering £27billion. Legal experts conclude that – “The annual direct (or “red tape”) cost of WTO tariff and non-tariff barriers is estimated to total around £27 billion for UK firms (or equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GVA) and around £31 billion for EU27 firms (or equivalent to 0.4 per cent of GVA) after initial steps to mitigate the impacts have been taken. They are of a similar absolute magnitude but about four times greater for the UK as a percentage of GVA.” For everything that the hard-Brexiteers in government keep going on about – this alone should makes us all wonder what inflation Brexit is going cause all on its own. (source – download pdf report).
To add insult to injury – an independent inquiry team has found acquiring UK citizenship is prohibitively expensive and beyond the reach of people such as frontline key workers, exceeding the price of becoming a citizen in Australia, Canada, France and the US combined. Yes – combined. This has all sorts of negative implications in many areas of life in the UK, especially the NHS and elderly care (source). What it also means is, why would the best want to come to Britain under these hostile conditions?
Killed By The State: Following ten years of research for the Preventable Harm Project, Mo Stewart exposes the political assault on the chronically ill and disabled community in the UK. If you want to link to the written transcript, it’s online via ResearchGate HERE – Otherwise, the video is online via YouTube HERE
Propaganda by Omission: The Government has instructed local areas not to use adverts that might reflect badly on Brexit, Byline Times can reveal. This is the stuff of tinpot dictators as Boris Johnson’s Government isn’t prepared to risk the reputation of Brexit, no matter what the cost (READ MORE).
Selling NHS data: If we’ll be ‘back to normal’ by Easter as the government says, why are ‘emergency’ COVID deals with firms like Palantir becoming lucrative long-term contracts? (READ MORE)
Staged Brexit negotiations – psychodrama and propaganda: The psychodrama is a stunt and its little more than propaganda. The truth is, EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen despises Boris Johnson, so does, Merkel, Macron and the majority of EU member state leaders. Another truth is that the concept of a free trade agreement to the jihadists of Brexit, would somehow be some sort of betrayal to this Tory party – a party so divided and faction riven, that Johnson is now being pushed around by everyone (READ MORE).
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