The Cabinet: IN or OUT?

After Mayor Of London, MP Boris Johnsons’ announcement today that he would be backing the campaign to ‘Leave’ the EU, this is how the Conservative cabinet shall be voting:

cabinet vote.png

@telegraph

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A Special Status Inside the European Union

After long and agonising talks with other EU leaders in Brussels, David Cameron has finally struck a deal over Britain’s future in Europe.

Shortly after the talks David Cameron said in a press conference that, “I have negotiated a deal to give the United Kingdom special status inside the European Union.”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council announced the agreement after more than 24 hours of intense discussions over British demands to curb benefits for migrant workers. “Unanimous support for new settlement for the UK in Europe,” he said after a final agreement was signed off at dinner of 28 EU members in Brussels.

Whilst compromises had to be made by Cameron such as restricting welfare payments to Eastern European workers, the deal as a whole will be viewed as a victory for the Prime Minister.

“Britain will be permanently out of ever-closer union, never part of a European super-state, there will be tough new restrictions to our welfare system for EU migrants – no more something for nothing – Britain will never join the euro and we’ve secured vital protections for our economy.”

So what are the key points from the deal:

  • If a bail out is required of another EU member country, the British taxpayer will be reimbursed.
  • British businesses cannot be discriminated against just because they are outside the Euro zone.
  • Safeguards for Britain’s large financial services industry to prevent eurozone regulations being imposed on it
  • the Euro zone cannot act as a block to undermine the single market.
  • the pound will be protected as the EU has agreed there is more than one currency and responsibility for securing the financial stability of the UK remains in the hands of the UK.
  • It will be easier for services industries to compete in the EU and for businesses to access capital, and the EU has given commitments it will establish trade deals with other blocs, meaning a boost to competition
  • On migration, there will be new powers to stop criminals and suspected terrorists from coming to the UK and to deport them if they commit crime.
  • On benefits, anyone coming to the UK from the EU who does not find work within six months can be required to leave
  • there will be an emergency brake that allows the UK to stop paying in-work benefits for seven years, and EU migrants working in Britain can no longer send child benefit home at UK rates.
  • On protections against further union, treaties will be changed so that the principle of an ‘ever-closer’ union will not apply to Britain. This specifically means that Britain can’t be forced into further political integration.
  • It will become easier for governments to block unwanted legislation, If 55% of national EU parliaments object to a piece of EU legislation it may be rethought.

Now all that’s left to do is to start campaigning! The IN vs OUT referendum will take place on the 23rd of June.

A Dark Day For Our NHS

Despite the backlash, the controversy, the strikes, the overwhelming support of the British public, Jeremy Hunt has pressed on and has announced that the Government will impose the new contracts on the Junior Doctors.

In my opinion by simply forcing the contract rather than continuing with negotiations suggests the Health Secretary is lacking in confidence in his own arguments and perhaps shows that he is afraid of the public beginning to see through his incoherent points.

The Junior Doctors contribute massively to our health care system and this needs to be valued and recognised with more significance. The years of training and hard work they go through to look after the people of Britain should not be going unnoticed.  The imposition of a new contract, which has been unanimously fought against will only lead to more strikes and further problems for Jeremy Hunt.

Could this symbolise the beginning of the end for one of the greatest achievements in British Politics; The NHS?

Elephants in the Commons

 

On the day of the 2nd strike over the Junior Doctors Contract, not once was it mentioned at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. David Cameron was subjected to half an hour of questions on the day of the strike but neither he, nor Jeremy Corbyn, nor any backbencher from any party raised the subject.

Questions asked by Jeremy Corbyn were mainly about the housing crisis and especially how young people would be able to afford to buy homes.

The closest any politician came to implicitly mentioning the medics’ stoppage was Corbyn wearing a pro-trade union badge on his label reading “heart unions”. The badge was however a nod towards the campaign to stop the Government’s proposed anti-trade union laws, rather than direct reference to the strike.

There are no urgent questions or statements about the strike scheduled for later today, meaning the main platform for discussing it in Parliament has been missed.

Labour’s lack of will to capitalise on the strike in the Commons comes despite a very high proportion of the public blaming the Government for it. An Ipsos MORI poll for the Health Service Journal found 64 per cent of people believe the Government is to blame for the strike, while 13 per cent say junior doctors are. Whilst according to a poll by Sky News, 74% of people back today’s walkout by junior doctors.

A Department of Health spokesperson said this morning: “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is very disappointing that tens of thousands of patients and NHS staff have been inconvenienced by the BMA.”

Other significant issues that were missed out during PMQs was questions regarding the EU referendum. The topic was ignored by MPs, despite it dominating much of the discussion in Westminster ahead of next week’s crunch EU summit. A subject which in recent weeks’ has dominated news’ headlines was not questioned even once.

David Cameron was not asked about his mother, Mary. Earlier this week it was revealed she had put her name to a campaign against plans by Conservative run Oxfordshire County Council to close a number of children’s centres as a result of government cuts. Cuts introduced by her son. However, again the issue was ignored.

Furthermore, recently published figures have revealed cases where children have been admitted to A&E and were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders – and had also intentionally harmed themselves – has more than doubled since 2011. The statistics show that self-harm among those with mental health problems under the age of 18 rose from 1,098 in 2010/11 to 2,313 in 2014/15. The figures also come as the number of children diagnosed with mental illnesses has more than doubled in five years, and cases of intentional self-harm have also surged. However the topic was not raised by MPs at today’s prime minister’s questions.

David Cameron must think PMQs nowadays are just a stroll in the park. Jeremy Corbyn ought to step it up, if he really wants to see David Cameron begin to wobble.

Jeremy Hunt Describes the BMA as ‘Totally Irresponsible’…

Jeremy Hunt was on the Andrew Marr show to to launch a new initiative for a paperless NHS, however large parts of the interview was dominated by the controversy regarding the new Junior Doctors’ contract.

The Health Secretary was made to sit and listen live on TV to the complaints of junior doctors who said they were “despairing and close to quitting medicine” – and that it was all his fault.

Here is a clip from the programme and his response in which he describes the BMA as “totally irresponsible”…

ISIS are Planning more Mass Strikes in Europe

The terrorist group ISIS are planning more mass strikes in Europe and according to Europol, the law enforcement agency for the EU, Isis has set up secret training camps across Europe to prepare fighters to carry out “special forces style” attacks in the UK or other EU countries.

The international police agency said that the barbaric organisation had “smaller scale training camps in the EU and Balkan countries”. They would include survival training and sports activities to help jihadists prepare for “combat and interrogation resistance”.

And ISIS could be looking to recruit refugees who have fled to Europe to launch terror attacks in the countries that have given them shelter, the agency said.

It emerged last year that remote villages in Bosnia were being turned in to terror training camps by ISIS.

Furthermore, the threat assessment also warned that ISIS has developed a new specialist style”external actions command” to plot and carry out attacks in the West and around the world. The ‘special forces’ style means attacks in the future could be more like the kind that took place in Mumbai in 2008 and also similar to the attacks seen in Paris last year.

The terror group released a new video on Sunday which indicated the UK would be the next target because of its decision to join air strikes in Syria.

The Europol assessment said: “In selecting what to attack, where, when and how, IS shows its capacity to strike at will, at any time and at almost any chosen target.

It also suggested that, after the Paris attacks- where 130 people were killed, there is “every reason to expect that Isis will undertake a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe again… intended to cause mass casualties amongst the civilian population”.

How the UK is Helping Saudi Commit War Crimes in Yemen

In just three months last year the UK sold more than £1 bn worth of bombs, missiles and rockets to Saudi Arabia. In comparison, during the previous three months only £9 mn worth of sales were made, which shows more than a hundred fold increase in the amount sold- according to an official record of arms export licences quietly released by the Government this week.

This was despite that there are clear indications that the weapons and arms would have been used by Saudi forces in their battle in Yemen. The Saudi Arabian led coalition, aims to push back Houthi rebels and reinstall the exiled government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Yemen. The campaign has been condemned by the United nations who said the region is facing a  ‘humanitarian catastrophe’.

The campaign in Yemen has raised concerned that war crimes are being committed and that it violate human rights. Reports also suggest that civilian targets and aid hospitals, including those ran by Medicins Sans Frontieres, have been targeted.

The UN says more than 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s war, including nearly 3,000 civilians. The international body has reported that more than 80 percent of the country’s 24 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance.

However, disregarding the evidence, David Cameron has defended the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, describing the kingdom as a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

“Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is important for our own security,” he told BBC Radio 4 . “We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure that the work done by Saudi Arabia is properly targeted and it’s right that we should do that. We’re working with them and others on behalf of the legitimate government of Yemen.”

Human rights groups have condemned the UK’s role in the Yemen war, and in December, it was found that Britain’s exports to Saudi Arabia was breaking national, EU, and international law and policy. Supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia, who are using them in military intervention and in a bombing campaign is violation of the laws. The UK government, however, insists it is not taking part in the campaign.

Amnesty Internationals head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said., “These figures are deeply worrying, showing that the UK continued to dispatch huge amounts of weaponry to Saudi Arabia despite overwhelming evidence that the Saudi war machine was laying waste to Yemeni homes, schools and hospitals… As officials were signing off these sales, hundreds – possibly thousands – of Yemeni civilians were dying in a terrifying barrage of indiscriminate Saudi air strikes in the country.”

In total British weapons companies have sold more than £5.6 bn worth of arms, fighter jets and other military equipment to Riyadh- according to the Campaign against Arms trade.

For the full analysis by Amnesty International describing the laws being broken by the UK click here.