Section: UK

We must stand up for democracy against Boris Johnson’s ‘dictatorship’

William Wallace

Serious people on all sides of politics now worry about the way Boris Johnson is undermining the British constitution. Decisions have been centralised in No. 10 Downing Street, with a team of unelected advisers under Dominic Cummings pushing the Cabinet to one side. They expect the Commons to do what they tell it, relying on obedience from […]

The Irish Sea border: Brexit’s own iceberg

Anthony Robinson

Northern Ireland was barely mentioned during the referendum, but since 2016 it has consistently proved the most insoluble problem. Theresa May’s plan to resolve it by keeping the whole United Kingdom in the customs union eventually proved her undoing. Johnson’s answer, to erect a border down the Irish Sea, could soon be his. Northern Ireland […]

Failing? Blame someone else!

Richard Corbett

The Daily Telegraph carried a remarkable article yesterday claiming that the main obstacle to getting a post Brexit deal on trade (and other matters) with the EU is simply the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. Blaming a Frenchman always goes down well with parts of the British public, but lashing out at Barnier is facile. […]

The dubious “expert” driving the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy

Richard Sadler

We’ve all heard of Dominic Cummings – but what about Shanker Singham? This obscure industry lobbyist has penetrated the inner circles of the deregulatory, free-trade ideologues at the heart of government. Like Cummings, he is unelected and unaccountable. Yet he has developed close contacts with ministers from the prime minister down, and is playing a […]

Johnson puts a troubled year behind him and faces a winter of discontent

Jane Thomas

If a week is a long time in politics, then a year seems interminable. On 24 July 2019 Boris Johnson entered Number 10 having comfortably won the Tory leadership election with a pledge to recruit 20,000 more police officers and “fix the crisis in social care”, as well as deliver extra funding for schools and […]

Scots welcome the “crime minister”

Hecate

Joy oh joy! The prime minister grabbed his rubber ring, stuffed his budgie smugglers into his pocket and flip-flopped around the room, packing his case ready for his hols. Briefly stopping to douse his joss sticks, slap on some self-tan and check the latest Tory sex scandals, he did a press-up to celebrate his success […]

Government’s £400m purchase of bankrupt OneWeb looks doomed to fail

Anthony Robinson

There is growing curiosity and another potential scandal surrounding the government’s £400m purchase of the bankrupt satellite company OneWeb. Dominic Cummings believes that in the UK we need something like the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) where the government pumps money into blue skies projects in the hope of getting a lead in […]

Experts deny coronavirus will be ‘over by Christmas’

Helen Davidson
syringe and pills on blue background

While the country was preoccupied with the imminent release of the Russia report, the commons health and social care committee was hearing expert evidence on the management of Covid-19 and what further steps were needed to prepare for the winter. Interestingly, they didn’t recommend bringing in the army to tackle the civil unrest following the […]

Another MP in the sexual spotlight

Rick Dillon

What is it about politicians and their sexual urges? The latest scandal involves a Tory MP allegedly propositioning an intern, but the history of indiscretions goes back a long way, and despite the chance of being caught out now almost a given in our media age, our political class doesn’t seem to be behaving any […]

Sex workers further marginalised during pandemic

Isabel Ralphs
silhouette of woman during sunset

Lockdown has pushed some women in our local communities even further into the shadows, as the government fails to account for the unique needs of marginalised women, leaving sex workers, ex-offenders and the female homeless poverty-stricken and highly vulnerable.

Russian influence in the UK: is this the ‘new normal’?

Charlie McCarthy
st basil s cathedral

The first act of the newly formed international security committee (ISC) under the leadership of former Tory Julian Lewis, was to publish the long awaited Russia report. It is important to remind ourselves of the primary aims of the government when considering our relationship with a potentially hostile power such as Russia. The government’s aim […]

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Jane Thomas

The latest round of EU trade talks taking place in London is expected to end on Thursday in a deadlock. The Telegraph reports that the government’s working assumption is that we will be unable to agree a deal with the EU by the time the transition period ends, so Britain will trade with Europe on […]

Lords call for government food strategy to protect food security

Natalie Bennett
assorted sliced fruits in white ceramic bowl

Last night after 8pm, some 16 hours into the debate of the 321 amendments to the agriculture bill, with Lords huddled over their laptops in remote parts of the country, you’d have to be a keen political wonk to have still been attached to Parliament TV. But Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick described this part of […]

Britain to develop world-beating circumlocution industry

Anthony Robinson

Charles Dickens invented the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit, a fictional government paper-shuffling department which never achieved anything but, “in the spirit of national efficiency” gradually led to it having “something to do with everything”. Dickens talked of people “who in slow lapse of time and agony” became lost inside it. It appears from the […]

Levelling down: councils face bankruptcy as funding dries up

Jane Thomas
coins and a piggy bank

It may have been the last day of term for our MPs, but they went out with a bang. Monday night saw Conservative MPs, having whined about wanting to take back control, give most of it straight back to the executive. A Tory backbench attempt to give parliament a definitive say on post-Brexit trade deals […]

Who will benefit from a no-deal Brexit?

Amanda Robinson

“The prime minister has a significant opportunity here to win popularity and secure himself a solid future; if he revoked Art 50 before 31 January 2020 on national security grounds he would immediately assume the mantle of a hero. But if the ‘Russia Report’ comes out after Brexit, he may well end up being cast […]

Yorkshire and Humber MPs who turned their backs on the NHS

Juliet Lodge

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the government is asleep on the job – not paying attention and not asking critical questions affecting the safety and security of the UK. This is as much about the Russian report as it is about the very serious issues surrounding the role of the British parliament […]

Why forced labour thrives in the UK

Dr Stella Perrott

Stella Perrott explores the continuum between poorly paid employment and exploitative or forced labour and how race and gender underpin workplace exploitation. She discusses the weaknesses of the current regulatory framework and how the government’s ‘hostile environment’ supports the conditions for exploitation

Protecting the UK from predatory traders

Juliet Lodge
alligator head

One of the more intriguing aspects of what parliamentary scrutiny committees do concerns the way in which they have, more recently, revealed how weak parliament is when it comes to controlling government. MPs are now setting about challenging this. At a time when the UK is facing the double whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit, it […]

Is the penny finally dropping at The Telegraph?

Anthony Robinson

Last Saturday, The Telegraph carried a report about British international haulage companies facing disaster without a trade agreement at the end of the year: Three quarters of hauliers face loss of permits in no-deal Brexit. This was a reference to the EU’s notice published on 9 July about the coming changes once the transition period […]

Hunting Johnson: rule breaking, populism and animal cruelty

Liz Webster
brown and white fox on green grass

There is a virulent theme running throughout Boris Johnson’s life and ascent to the top job as prime minister. His carefree and clownish approach to life has assured him enormous popularity. To his fans he is the Uncle Buck they always wanted – clumsy, clutzy, naughty but nice Boris Johnson who makes people laugh and […]

Vera Lynn of the virus: saving lives with humour

Jimmy Andrex

Has the Vera Lynn of the virus saved more lives than Boris Johnson? It’s a funny old world, but no-one’s really laughing. Apart from the beyond-satire antics of government ministers (the highlight of which was surely the health secretary’s Reeves & Mortimer-esque parkour), the pandemic has been a miserable time full of fear, pain and […]

Every child really does matter

Dr Pam Jarvis
woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

In the UK, we urgently need to consider the reasons why children in most other nations of the world do not begin formal schooling until they are six or even seven. Having recently retired from frontline teaching to give my full focus to several writing and research projects, I have had time to reflect on over thirty […]

Burnout can happen to anyone

Linda Sage
adult alone anxious black and white

“I wanted to sit down and cry and curl up in the corner. I am so scared if I breakdown, I might never recover. Been up five times last night with dad, now I have to put on a smile and go to work – so tired and drained of energy.”  This was part of […]

Boys from the Blackstuff: an insightful drama to our own hard-hit times

Séamus O’Hanlon

‘Nobody on the dole counts, my friend.’ Alan Bleasdale’s revered 1982 television mini-series Boys from the Blackstuff is brave, bleak and though occasionally boring, is rather brilliant. This 306-minute series is captivating and now, more than ever, highly relevant as the economy falters and Britain again sinks into being the ‘sick man of Europe’. The towering […]

UK single market white paper: “irony so bitter it makes your eyes bleed”

Anthony Robinson

Only a government as intellectually incoherent as this one could publish in the same week two important documents with absolutely no consistent philosophy underpinning the policy objectives behind them. Worse, the objectives themselves seem diametrically opposed. On Monday, we got the border operating model setting out all the new barriers to trade the government intends to […]

Symbols and cynicism: Britain’s cultural war

Jacob Taylor

Symbols are the cultural and political currency of the day. From the Thursday evening clap-for-careers, rainbows in the windows, taking the knee, or toppling statues – the political battlefield in Britain is by some being turned into a cultural war in which image takes precedence over substance. Symbols are important, they allow us to represent […]

Brexit preparations: are we out of time?

Juliet Lodge

Rushing headlong into anything serious should be worrying at the best of times. But when we’re facing the worst of times any of us have known, it is crazy. An illusion has somehow been created of there being plenty of time before the transition period ends. But this is far from the reality. The UK […]

Trade bill may tip the scales on Scottish independence

Charlie McCarthy

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the shops in a face mask, Brexit is back with a vengeance (not that it ever went away). The government will publish legislation on Thursday that will form the foundation of the UK’s ‘internal market’ when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December […]

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