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UK says Brexit trade talks with EU are in their ‘last week’

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TMR: What will be the outcome? It is coming down to the wire and there is still no certainty! Was this discussed at the just concluded JMC virtual meetings?

Britain’s foreign minister says there is only about a week left for the U.K. and the European Union to strike a post-Brexit trade deal, with fishing rights the major obstacle to agreement

By The Associated – 29 November 2020,

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, centre, with his team as he walks to a conference centre in Westminster in London, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Teams from Britain and the European Union are continuing face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit trade deal in t
The Associated PressEU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, centre, with his team as he walks to a conference centre in…

LONDON — Britain’s foreign minister said Sunday there is only about a week left for the U.K. and the European Union to strike a post-Brexit trade deal, with fishing rights the major obstacle to an agreement.

As talks continued between the two sides in London, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “I think we are into the last week or so of substantive negotiations.”

The U.K. left the EU early this year, but remained part of the 27-nation bloc’s economic embrace during an 11-month transition as the two sides tried to negotiate a new free-trade deal to take effect Jan. 1. Talks have already slipped past the mid-November date long set as a deadline for agreement to be reached if it is to be approved by lawmakers in Britain and the EU before year’s end.

Despite the stalemate, Raab told Sky News that “there’s a deal to be done.”

He said the two sides had made progress on “level playing field” issues — the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU.

The biggest hurdle appears to be fish, a small part of the economy with an outsized symbolic importance for Europe’s maritime nations. EU countries want their boats to be able to keep fishing in British waters, while the U.K. insists it must control access and quotas.

“On fisheries, there is a point of principle: As we leave the transition, we are an independent coastal state and we’ve got to be able to control our waters,” Raab said.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who met through the weekend with U.K. counterpart David Frost, has said there are still “significant divergences.”

If there is no deal, New Year’s Day will bring huge disruption, with the overnight imposition of tariffs and other barriers to U.K.-EU trade. That will hurt both sides, but the burden will fall most heavily on Britain, which does almost half its trade with the EU.

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Express

Disaster for Boris as furious Tory rebels could BLOCK foreign aid spending cut

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REBEL Tories are plotting to block the Government’s bid to cut foreign aid spending from 0.7 percent of GDP a year to 0.5 percent, according to reports.

By Alex Shipman PUBLISHED: Thu, Nov 26, 2020 | UPDATED: Nov 26, 2020 114

Angry Conservative MPs, predominantly from the party’s liberal wing, are understood to be organising ahead of a vote in Parliament on the proposal. Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defense committee, have criticised the budget cut, which amounts to around £4bn less for aid spending.

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Mr. Hunt said: “To cut our aid budget by a third, in a year when millions more will fall into extreme poverty, will make not just them poorer but us poorer in the eyes of the world because people will worry that we are abandoning a noble idea that we in this country have done more to champion than anyone else.

Mr. Ellwood warned cutting the budget will “leave vacuums in some of the poorest parts of the world that will further poverty and instability”.

Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said the reduction in foreign aid “will be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children”.

He added: “This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make and none of us in this house will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for.”

Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the spending cut on Wednesday (Image: Getty)

Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is among MPs to criticise the move (Image: Getty)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the reduction in foreign aid on Wednesday.

He said the budget would be reduced to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product from 0.7 percent, prompting the resignation of Baroness Sugg, minister for sustainable development.

Mr. Sunak said: “During a domestic fiscal emergency, when we need to prioritise our limited resources on jobs and public services, sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people, especially when we’re seeing the highest peacetime levels of borrowing on record.

“At a time of unprecedented crisis, the Government must make tough choices.”

READ MORE: Foreign aid budget cut was right thing to do, say Express readers (TMR: Not surprising from Montserrat)

mitchell

Andrew Mitchell also voiced disapproval of the cuts (Image: Getty) TMR: Visited Montserrat in 2011 with Sue Wardel and laid the ground-work for the eventual May 1, 2012, MOU with Montserrat

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The Government plans to increase the figure to 0.7% “when the fiscal situation allows”, Mr. Sunak said

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Baroness Sugg, who served as Number 10’s director of operations under David Cameron, described plans to abandon the 0.7 percent spend commitment as “fundamentally wrong”.

She wrote: “This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good.

“Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crisis.”

DON’T MISS:
Meddling David Cameron hits out at ‘very sad’ foreign aid cut [INSIGHT]Foreign aid backlash: Minister resigns after Boris announces cut [REVEAL] 
Well done, Boris! Brexiteer celebrates foreign aid cut – ‘Ignore them’
[LATEST]

Tobias Ellwood

Tobisa Ellwood said cuts will “leave vacuums in some of the poorest parts of the world” (Image: Getty)

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a rare political intervention branding the move “shameful and wrong”

The Archbishop of Canterbury branded the move “shameful and wrong” (Image: Getty)

Backbenchers Pauline Latham and Peter Bottomley have also criticised the move.

Miss Latham said it could cause “more child marriages, more instances of early childbirth, more FGM, more domestic violence”.

However other Tory MPs, including the Conservative Party deputy chair Lee Rowley, supported the move.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight he commented: “0.5% remains a substantial amount of money, supporting the poorest around the world and helping them to grow.”

Baroness Sugg resigns after announcement of cut to foreign aid

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a rare political intervention branding the move, “shameful and wrong”.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “The cut in the aid budget – made worse by no set date for restoration – is shameful and wrong. It’s contrary to numerous Government promises and its manifesto.

“I join others in urging MPs to reject it for the good of the poorest, and the UK’s own reputation and interest.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has described the cut as a “very sad moment” for Britain.

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Rishi SunakBoris JohnsonDavid Cameron

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

image

Foreign aid backlash: Minister resigns after Boris announces major cut

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FOREIGN Office minister Baroness Liz Sugg has resigned over the Government’s plan to cut foreign aid.

By Steven Brown PUBLISHED: Wed, Nov 25, 2020 | UPDATED: 17:42, Wed, Nov 25, 2020 563

Christmas grinch caught during festive rampage

Baroness Liz Sugg has resigned from her junior ministerial role after the Government announced plans to abandon a Conservative manifesto commitment to fund the foreign aid budget. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he would cut the budget from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent.

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In a lengthy letter to the Prime Minister, she said it was “fundamentally wrong” to abandon the commitment to spend 0.7 percent of “gross national income” on development. 

She wrote: “This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good.

“Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crisis.

“For me, as for many in our Party and the country, it is a source of great pride that the United Kingdom has been a development superpower and contributed so much to the world.

Baroness Liz Sugg resigns from Foreign Office

Baroness Liz Sugg resigns from Foreign Office (Image: Getty)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces foreign aid cut

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces foreign aid cut (Image: PA)

“Our support and leadership in development have saved and changed millions of lives.

“It has also been firmly in our national interest as we tackle global issues, such as the pandemic, climate change, and conflict.

“Cutting UK aid risks undermining your efforts to promote a Global Britain and will diminish our power to influence other nations to do what is right.

“I cannot support or defend this decision, it is therefore right that I tender my resignation.”

READ MORE: Well done, Boris! Brexiteer celebrates foreign aid cut – ‘Ignore them’

Boris thanks Baroness Sugg for her work

Boris thanks Baroness Sugg for her work (Image: Getty)

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “extremely grateful” for her service as a Government minister.

He wrote: “Your work has made a difference to millions of girls around the world, and will stand us in good stead for the Global Partnership for Education replenishment event next year.

“In addition, your leadership and rigor in the lead up to and during the Africa Investment Summit made it the enormous success it was.

“Your passion and commitment to your work have been clear to civil servants and ministerial colleagues, and I know that the FCDO will miss you.”

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‘Still spending more than Macron!’ Stephen Barclay shuts down Sky host [COMMENT] 
Sturgeon rages at Boris Johnson’s ‘deplorable’ foreign aid cut  [REVEAL] 
Why Rishi is RIGHT to cut overseas aid in time of national crisis  [INSIGHT]

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on foreign aid

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on foreign aid (Image: Getty)

Her resignation comes after the Chancellor told the Commons the economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic meant “sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people”.

Under legislation passed by former Prime Minister David Cameron, the UK is committed in law to spend 0.7 percent of gross national income on foreign aid every year.

Last month, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the foreign aid should be “anchored” to the UK national interest.

Speaking to The Times, Mr. Raab said: “It’s right to say that when you invest in large sums of money in order to pursue a sustainable partnership, there needs to be something anchored to the UK national interest.

Rishi Sunak cuts foreign aid budget

Rishi Sunak cuts foreign aid budget (Image: Downing Street)

“So, we’ll look at all of the areas, whether it’s trade, whether it’s the military assets that were deployed, and see how we can effectively synergise all of those strains with the aid money going in.

“They’re not siloed, they shouldn’t be, whether it’s pursuing our moral interest or our national interest.

“We think that’s the right thing to do.”

In July, it was revealed a staggering £71million of taxpayers’ money was given to Beijing in just one year, despite China having the second-largest economy in the world.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron

Former Prime Minister David Cameron (Image: Getty)

The staggering figure was buried in the Department for International Development’s annual report.

The report found the £71.6million payment to China was sent via a combination of direct British aid and a share of funding the UK gives to the likes of the United Nations and EU, who then distribute it.

Mr. Raab said £3billion would be cut from the aid budget next year, with the axe falling on countries such as China.

Baroness Sugg’s resignation comes after several high-profile civil servants and senior aides have left their position.

Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson’s most senior aide Dominic Cummings announced he was stepping down from his position just days after ally Lee Cain also resigned.

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Follow the money

The following are just a few excerpts of an article subscribed to TMR and which we will publish fully in the next issue.

by Capt Inspector John

As you have already more than likely suspected by now, there exists a global crime syndicate that has been controlling the global banking system, and by extension, everything on the planet, for a long time. Irrefutable proof can be found in the bad guys’ playbook ‘Pawns In The Game’, written by William Guy Carr, a Canadian naval flag officer.
You will discover everything that has happened since 1774 is covered in this playbook. We know the global crime syndicate has drawn on this playbook, and used the exact same plays, for centuries. Carr documents it comes with documents and eye witness testimony.
It is always about the money.

The global crime syndicate is controlled by the Rothchild central banks. The Rothchild central banks are closely associated with the Vatican crime syndicate. The Jesuits, the military arm of the Vatican, controls the Vatican. The Jesuits control the city of London. The city of London controls the United States, the freemasons, and the Crown Temple B.A.R.

Other major players of the global crime syndicate include the Khazarian Mafia, Illuminati, Council of 300, Council on Foreign Relations, and the Bilderbergers. Collectively, these entities control every penny on the planet.
So what has this all got to do with David Brandt? Let me explain.

First off I will confess my favorable bias toward David Brandt. I was very close friends for years with his ( now deceased) brother Randy, while we both lived in St Thomas. I met Mr. Brandt, his wife, and his daughter in St. Thomas. I found them all to be very nice, honest, salt of the earth type folks, with no pretensions.

When Randy passed away, I contacted Mr. Brandt to inform him of the details. Since I had no contact info on Mr. Brandt, I contacted the Montserrat Reporter for assistance in getting this info to Mr. Brandt. Within 15 minutes of my sending that email, Mr. Brandt called me. I am grateful to the Montserrat Reporter for their amazing assistance in this matter. That is the last time I spoke to Mr. Brandt.

When Mr. Brandt was in St Thomas I offered a proposal. So, at the end of HPRP, I had a large group of vetted, seasoned, hard-working, professional contractors. This was shortly after the volcano blew, and Montserrat was desperate for housing.

I proposed to Mr. Brandt that I could bring these contractors to Montserrat to rebuild. We would be self-sufficient and would require no government assistance of any kind. Not a penny.

Mr. Brandt liked the idea. Sadly, he was unable to get past the British corruption to make that happen.

Follow the money. FYI, I just read the Montserrat Reporter editorials going back to 2015. There is no difference about the type of corruption, and who controls it, in any country on the planet. It is exactly the same in England, and the U.S., as it is in Montserrat.

Why? Nothing happens without the involvement of banks. Mr. Brandt could not get past the global crime syndicate control of everything. And that everything controlled what aid may be given to Montserrat.

My point, at all times, I derived from the facts, and discerned with my heart, that Mr. Brandt was deeply dedicated to the welfare of Montserrat, and its people. He did not ask anything for himself in my presence.

So! How is it, that in such a tiny place as Montserrat, that someone of the stature of David Brandt, could be charged with sexual misconduct 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and 1 year ago, and be incarcerated, and still have no trial, or conviction? Follow the money.

How is it possible to hide such crimes for so long in so small a place, by such a high profile figure? Follow the money.

I submit to you, that at the bottom of this story is pedophilia, human and child trafficking, aka white slavery. Why do I say this?

To be Continued

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UK Caribbean Deportations to Go Ahead

UK Caribbean Deportations to Go Ahead

St. Kitts-Nevis Observer

By snr-editor – February 10, 2020

Rishi Sunak

A senior minister has defended a plan to deport 50 people toJamaica despite widespread calls to halt the flight chartered by the Home Office.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak insisted today that those being forcibly removed had committed “very serious offences” and their deportations were “reasonable”.

It comes after more than 150 cross-party MPs and peers, including Jeremy Corbyn, wrote to Boris Johnson calling on him to stop tomorrow’s flight.

One man facing deportation is 30-year-old Reshawn Davis (pictured above).

He was convicted of robbery 10 years ago and served a two-month jail sentence for the offence.

Mr. Davis has lived in the UK since he was 11 and if deported tomorrow, would have to leave behind his British wife and daughter – he has said he is “terrified” at the thought of returning to Jamaica.

This is the second flight to Jamaica after the Windrush Scandal, when it emerged that dozens of people had been wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office.

In wake of the controversy, the government suspended charter flights as they could not guarantee that no wrongful deportations would take place.

The protest was organised by Nottingham East Labour MP Nadia Whittome, who warned that the government could repeat the mistakes of Windrush.

In the letter she said the deportation was intended to oust people who have been resident in the UK for decades and argued that deportations should be halted until a report into the Windrush controversy is released.

The MP said: “The fact is that many of the individuals in question have lived in the UK since they were children and at least 41 British children are now at risk of losing their fathers through this charter flight.

“The government risks repeating the mistakes of the Windrush scandal unless it cancels this flight and others like it until the Windrush Lessons Learned Review has been published and its recommendations implemented.”

But Mr Sunak said he believes the flight is “right” and the British public would expect foreign national offenders to be deported.

“What that plane is about is deporting foreign national criminals. Many of these people have committed crimes such as manslaughter, rape, other very serious offences,” he told Sky News.

Tajay Thompson came to the UK when he was five and has only visited Jamaica twice since

Another facing deportation to Jamaica is 23-year-old Tajay Thompson, who was convicted of a Class A drug offence as a teenager.

Mr. Thompson was brought to Britain as a five-year-old and lives with his mother and younger brother in south London, having only visited Jamaica twice on holidays since.

“I feel like I was born here. Jamaica is not my country,” he said.

“It’s not like I’m a rapist or a murderer, I’ve made a mistake when I was 17 and it’s now going to affect my whole life.”

Human Rights Appeal

An appeal has been renewed for Human Rights organisations worldwide to come to the aid of Caribbean immigrants who are the direct victims of the Windrush scandal.

Foreign Affairs Minister for Antigua and Barbuda EP Chet Greene echoed the call on Sunday on the Big Issues as the UK government gets ready to deport Caribbean nationals, some of whom arrived in the UK as children, and are parents of British children.

A flight, which is expected to depart the UK for Jamaica on Tuesday with approximately 60 deportees on board, is reportedly the second since the Windrush scandal erupted about two years ago.

“We are calling on all those rights organisations to come to the aid of the Caribbean people in the face of this wicked, very vindictive, very unlawful act on the part of the British government of deporting persons who have equity and stake in Britain,” Greene said.

The Windrush scandal erupted in 2018 when it came to light that some migrants from Commonwealth countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, who were encouraged to settle in the UK from the late 1940s to 1973, were being wrongly categorised as “illegal immigrants.”

News of the move sent shockwaves throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the Commonwealth, with many pundits raising alarm over the decision.

Posted in Court, Culture, Features, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Comparison-voting-patterns-2014-HT-Wikipedia-1

MNI: Post-Election reflections and challenges, 2019

November 29, 2019

How will we best manage our development partnership with the post-Brexit UK and the upcoming UN Charter Article 73 C24 visit?

We also note that, with a split opposition, the former administration PDM team is now the bulk of the opposition, three seats led by Hon Mr. Paul Lewis. Former Premier Romeo sits as the fourth opposition member, having been elected on an independent ticket. We wish the new opposition well too, not least because a good opposition that is credible as the potential next government is a key part of our democratic system.

Comparison: voting patterns 2014 (HT: Wikipedia)

That said, it is interesting to observe that there was a fall in turnout rate for the 2019 election as compared with the 2014 one: 2,410 of 3,858 registered voters [62.47%] as opposed to 2,747 of 3,866 [71.06%].

That is, while registered voters fell slightly [8 voters], the voter turnout fell by 337.

The total 2019 MCAP vote was 8,512 and the total, PDM – counting “seven plus one” – was 7,029. In 2014, MCAP had 8,193 votes and PDM had 11,591. The MCAP support grew by 319 and the PDM fell by 4,562. This election was more of a loss for the PDM than a triumph for MCAP.

However, as the margin of victory was one seat, for purposes of analysis, let us ponder the effect of just three hundred disaffected PDM supporters turning out and supporting their party. Where the ninth past the post candidate in the actual 2019 election [Hon Mr. Hogan] garnered 873 votes. (In 2014, Hon Mr. Willock was 9th, with 1,117 votes.)

In our hypothetical “+300 PDM” Election 2019, for instance, Hon Mr. Lewis (with + 300 votes) would have had 1,551 votes. Hon Mr. Romeo (the “plus one”), would have had 1,360 votes. The “seven plus one” PDM vote total would also have shifted to 9,429.

More importantly, Mr. Hixon would have had 1,162 votes, switching the election to the other side.

The new 9th past the post would – for the moment – be Hon Mr. Kirnon, at 970 votes. But, if we add 300 votes to Mr. Emile Duberry, he would now have 998 votes, matching Hon Deputy Premier Dr. Samuel Joseph, so Mr. Kirnon would have been defeated.

That is, the election would have likely swung the other way, 5:4 or perhaps even 6:3.

(Recall, the “+300 PDM” model is only a hypothetical estimate to help us understand the actual election’s outcome.)

An obvious lesson from this comparison, is that a party leadership “coup” six weeks before an election is not a well-advised electoral strategy. A slightly less obvious one, is that allowing hostile messaging to dominate for years on end is also not a well-advised electoral strategy, especially when one’s party is obviously trending towards splits. Doubtless, our politicians, pundits and public relations gurus have taken due note.

However, there is a further issue, one that carries such urgency that it needs to be put on the table now, for national discussion. Yes, even during the traditional new government honeymoon period.

For, in the next few weeks, we expect to see a UN Committee of 24 visit under the UN Charter, Article 73. However, skepticism on the relevance of the UN and similar skepticism on the UN Charter, Article 73 (thus the FCO commitment that the OT’s have a “first call” on the UK’s development budget) were a major part of MCAP’s messaging over the past several years and so much skepticism has become entrenched in much of popular opinion.

This is in a context where the UK is in a Brexit-dominated General Election. One, where newly incumbent Euro-skeptic Prime Minister the Hon Mr. Boris Johnson seems likely to handily win re-election. (Where, the previous UK Prime Minister, Hon Mrs. May, resigned several months before the election.)

Further to this, the UK press has shown for months, that Hon Mr. Johnson has pushed to reduce DfID to being a Department under FCO. For example, as a July 24, 2019 Guardian article reports, on becoming Prime Minister, Hon Mr. Boris Johnson:
. . . spoke of the “jostling sets of instincts in the human heart” – the instinct to earn money and look after your own family, set against that of looking after the poorest and neediest, and promoting the good of society as a whole. The Tory party has the “best instincts” to balance these desires, he said.

This balancing act will be tested soon after he moves into No 10 . . . . The UK’s £38bn defence budget is just 2.5 times greater than the £14bn aid budget.

After leaving his job as foreign secretary, Johnson spelled out his thinking over foreign aid, telling the Financial Times that if “Global Britain” is going to achieve its “full and massive potential” then we must bring back the Department for International Development (DfID) to the Foreign Office. “We can’t keep spending huge sums of British taxpayers’ money as though we were some independent Scandinavian NGO.”

The Guardian article adds, how:
In February, [Hon. Mr. Johnson] went further. Writing the foreword of a report by Bob Seely, Tory member of the foreign affairs select committee, and James Rogers, a strategist at the Henry Jackson Society thinktank, he suggested aid should “do more to serve the political and commercial interests” of Britain.

That report “called for the closure of DfID as a separate department and argued the UK should be free to define its aid spending, unconstrained by criteria set by external organisations.” It went on to assert that DfID’s purpose “should be expanded from poverty reduction to include ‘the nation’s overall strategic goals’,” and that “the Foreign Office should incorporate both DfID and the trade department.” Which, is precisely what has been put on the table.

While, the UK cannot unilaterally redefine what Development Aid is [the OECD defines that], it is clear that there will be strong pressure to reduce UK aid from the 0.7% of national income target level that has been met since 2013/14 and which is actually mandated by current UK law. And, mixing in trade and strategic goals is likely to raise questions on the quality of aid offered under such a reduced budget. (Perhaps, too, it may be advisable for the UK to ponder that timely aid that addresses root causes of conflict is a lot cheaper and far less risky than major wars are.)

What this means for us, is that the importance of the UN Charter as a cornerstone of International Law since 1945 has suddenly shot up as the UK moves towards Brexit. In that context, the Article 73 mandates that the UK is legally bound to “ensure [our political, social, educational and economic] advancement” and to “promote constructive measures of development” are of particular value.

Especially, where £30 million under the CIPREG programme and another £14.4 million for the sea port under the UKCIF are on the table. And where these sums are programmed into existing projects, so that attempts to re-open the negotiations may well carry significant risks of further delay or even loss of funding. (Let us recall, that for years, sections of the UK press have decried £400+ million in cumulative aid to Montserrat as a “fiasco” and worse.)

Posted in CARICOM, Columns, De Ole Dawg, Elections, Local, News, OECS, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Corbyn-2nd-REf2

Johnson seeks to focus UK election on Brexit, not his flaws – UKLParty leader Corbyn defends neutral Brexit stance

The 2019 Montserrat General Elections occupied much of media attention as we at TMR waited and listened for any semblance of interest from our political candidates in the imminent UK General Elections and of course the BREXIT saga which one can say is the main reason why the latest Prime Minister since 2016, Boris Johnson believes is the way to carry forward ‘his’ Brexit effort. There wasn’t any worthwhile mention of these issues which must whichever way they turn out will have an impact on Montserrat as it continues its struggle back to some normal way of existential living. Here we bring some excerpt reporting from what we consider less partial that mainstream media in the UK to the real situation in there and as seen from inside and outside.

By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson struggled last Friday to move Britain’s election debate away from questions about his character and onto Brexit, promising to bolster protection for British businesses and farmers once the country has left the European Union.

Johnson tried to brush aside criticism of his past comments about single mothers and his current refusal to submit to the same amount of televised scrutiny as other party leaders.

At a news conference, Johnson claimed Brexit had been “delayed, diluted, denied” by obstructive politicians. He said that if the Conservatives won the Dec. 12 election he would take the U.K. out of the European Union on the currently scheduled date of Jan. 31, so that “we can finally move on as a country.”

He touted the alleged benefits that would come with departure from the 28-nation trade bloc, saying his government would introduce new state-aid rules allowing the government to step in to help struggling businesses.

The level of support EU governments can give industries is limited by regulations barring anything that might distort competition.

Johnson also vowed to scrap an EU-required tax on tampons and sanitary pads and introduce a requirement for public bodies to buy British produce rather than imports.

Promising more state intervention in the economy is reminiscent of the left-of-center Labour Party, rather than the free-marketeer Conservatives, and appears designed to help the Tories win over Brexit-backing Labour supporters.

All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs in the Dec. 12 election, which is being held more than two years early after Parliament became deadlocked over Brexit.

Johnson wants to secure a Conservative majority in the election so he can push through the Brexit divorce deal he negotiated with the EU. Under the terms of that deal, the U.K. would leave the EU on Jan. 31 but remain bound by the bloc’s rules until the end of 2020.

On Friday, Johnson repeated his assertion that Britain and the EU will be able to strike a new free trade deal by the end next year, a timescale trade experts say is wildly ambitious.

“I am full of optimism and confidence and suggest that everybody else should be as well,” he said.

But Johnson also announced plans to diverge from EU rules in significant ways, which would make it harder to retain close trade ties with the bloc. And he said he would not extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020, even if no trade deal was in place.

Economists warn that a no-deal Brexit would plunge Britain into recession and severely impede commerce with the EU, its biggest trading partner.
With most polls showing a double-digit lead for Johnson’s Conservatives and less than two weeks until polling day, the governing party is keen to limit the prime minister’s opportunities for gaffes and slip-ups.

That has led to allegations he is dodging scrutiny. Johnson declined to take part in a debate Thursday alongside his main opponent, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, and other party leaders, and has so far refused to commit to a one-on-one TV interview with BBC interrogator Andrew Neil.
“I’ve done plenty of debates,” Johnson told radio station LBC on Friday. “I can’t do absolutely everything.”

The Conservatives were also embroiled in a feud with broadcaster Channel 4 over the network’s decision to put an Earth-shaped ice sculpture in place of Johnson after he declined to appear for Thursday’s climate change-themed TV debate.

The party complained to Britain’s broadcast watchdog, Ofcom, over what it called “a provocative partisan stunt.”

Five party leaders took part. Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage declined to attend and were replaced with melting sculptures atop podiums.

Johnson has faced questions about his character throughout the campaign. The prime minister has a history of making offensive remarks, including a newspaper column last year in which he compared women who wear face-covering veils to “letterboxes.”

This week the Labour Party unearthed an article Johnson wrote in conservative magazine the Spectator in 1995 in which he called the children of single mothers “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate.”

Asked about those remarks Friday, Johnson said he had written “millions of words” in his career, and “everybody is able to find some they can cull from the texts and twist them and distort them.” He did not distance himself from the comments about single mothers.

Jeremy Corbin

By GREGORY KATZ
LONDON (AP) — Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is defending his decision to remain neutral in a possible future referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union.

Corbyn said that he plans to be an “honest broker” in a Brexit referendum rather than urge voters to remain in the EU or leave under terms of a new deal he would negotiate if he becomes prime minister after the Dec. 12 election.

He said at a campaign event in Sheffield that “my role as the Labour prime minister would be to ensure that is carried out in a fair way … and that I will carry out the result of that referendum.”

Corbyn announced last Friday night, Nov 22, he would be neutral, a position assailed Saturday by political rivals on both sides of the Brexit divide.

He had been repeatedly challenged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to clarify his Brexit plan. Labour’s position is more complex than the unabashedly pro-Brexit policy espoused by Johnson and his Conservatives, who seek to win parliamentary approval for the deal already negotiated in order to leave the EU by Jan. 31.

Corbyn says if he comes to power, Labour will negotiate a new deal with EU officials, then put that new deal to voters, who can choose between endorsing it or staying inside the 28-nation EU bloc. He says he plans to let voters decide the proposed referendum without him taking a position as prime minister.

That view was ridiculed on the campaign trail Saturday.

Liberal Democratic leader Jo Swinson called it a total abdication of the prime minister’s responsibility. Her party has vowed to halt Brexit by revoking Article 50, which triggered Britain’s withdrawal process.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who advocates an immediate, final break with the EU, said the Labour Party is “bombing” with voters because of Corbyn’s vague position.

Johnson pushed for Britain to hold the December election, which is taking place more than two years early, in hopes of winning a majority and breaking Britain’s political impasse over Brexit. All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs.

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

United Kingdom: Winning elections is everything

United Kingdom: Winning elections is everything

By Editor – September 26, 2019

By Sir Ronald Sanders

As she delivered the unanimous decision of the 11 members of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (UK), on the unlawfulness of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, advising the Queen to prorogue Parliament, I admit to being mesmerized by the startling brooch being worn by the Court’s President, Baroness Brenda Hale.

It was rather large, very sparkly and looked like a scorpion.   I learned later that it was a replica of a spider.  Either way, unaccustomed to such extravagant accessories for a Judge, usually garbed in sober robes and a wig, I was taken aback at what appeared to be a more casual presentation of a judgment of historic moment.

The apparent casualness of attire notwithstanding, Baroness Hale read out a decision that was as stinging as the bite of a scorpion that I wrongly assumed was represented by the glittering brooch she wore.

“The Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty”, she said, “was unlawful, void and of no effect”.   That advice, given to the Queen on August 28, was to prorogue parliament for an unprecedented five weeks from September 11.  Mr. Johnson’s objective was to silent belligerent members of parliament, including within his own Conservative Party, from opposing his withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (EU) on October 31 –  the drop-dead date for separation with no negotiated deal on the terms of the separation.

The appeals to the Supreme Court were made by a combination of persons, including parliamentarians and private citizens – prominently, Guyanese-born, UK businesswoman, Gina Miller – who felt their interests were being suffocated by Mr. Johnson’s gagging of parliament at a time when negotiations between the UK and the EU had not been concluded and the UK was facing deep economic uncertainty.

What was on trial was the effort of the leader of a political party in office to impose his desired political agenda by shutting-down the parliamentary system that was created to check the government’s abuse of power.

In their joint decision, the Supreme Court judges pointed out that one of the important questions before them was whether “this prorogation did have the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions, without reasonable justification”.  In their words, the Judges declared that “this was not a normal prorogation in the run-up to a Queen’s Speech. It prevented Parliament from carrying out its constitutional role for five out of the possible eight weeks between the end of the summer recess and exit day on 31st October”.  On that question, the Court was clear: “The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful”.

That is a remarkable and historic indictment of a British Prime Minister by the highest court in the land.  Normally, in the British tradition, Mr. Johnson would have made a public apology, announced his resignation and retired quietly to write a book in the hope that its explanations and descriptions of what led to this constitutional mess, would earn him additional pension money.

Not so with Mr. Johnson.   Forced to return to Parliament, which resumed in the wake of the Court decision, Mr. Johnson was extraordinarily pugnacious, even accusing the Court of being “wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question”.

Clearly, the Court did not agree with Mr. Johnson or they would not have decided that the matter was “justiciable”, adding that “the courts have exercised a supervisory jurisdiction over the lawfulness of acts of the Government for centuries”.

In the context of the Caribbean, going to the Court for arbitration of a question regarding a government’s overreach of its powers has become common place.  But, in the Commonwealth Caribbean, where the same system of representative democracy exists as in the UK, the Constitutions are written.  In the UK, the Constitution is not; it consists of laws passed by parliament and customs associated with them.  In this sense, judges in Commonwealth Caribbean countries interpret constitutional requirements based on a body of written law; the UK Supreme Court was less constrained in this case and, together, the 11 judges gave great prominence in their thinking to parliamentary accountability, citing a senior Law Lord, Lord Bingham.  “The conduct of government by a Prime Minister and Cabinet collectively responsible and accountable to Parliament lies at the heart of Westminster democracy”.

The same should apply in Commonwealth Caribbean countries.

None of this has taken the matter of the UK’s exit from the EU any further than it was before Mr. Johnson prorogued parliament.  There is a law on the statute books, rapidly adopted by both Houses of Parliament on September 6, five days before Mr. Johnson’s prorogation came into force, preventing the UK from leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement on October 31.

A further law, passed by Parliament when Johnson’s Conservative Party lost its majority, requires the government to ask for a delay in leaving the EU beyond October 31, if it fails to secure a deal by October 19.  Mr. Johnson, even in the face of the Supreme Court’s public slapping-down of his Prime Ministerial overreach, has adamantly stated that he will not seek an extension.

Mr. Johnson failed in his plan to yank the UK out of the EU by ignoring parliamentary democracy and constitutional barriers.  Clearly, he will now continue to ignore parliament in his overarching ambition to tug the UK out of the EU.  Not least because, at a looming general election, his Conservative Party will not get the votes of the electorate who wish to remain in the EU, and it is in danger of losing voters to the extreme right-wing Brexit Party which desperately wants the UK out of Europe.

Winning the next election is everything.

(The writer is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organization of American States.  He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto.  The views expressed are entirely his own)

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Education, Elections, International, Local, News, Opinions, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

MNI: Facing our 2019 – 24 post-Brexit Governance- Capacity- Leadership Challenge

MNI: Facing our 2019 – 24 post-Brexit Governance- Capacity- Leadership Challenge

How are we going to handle the UK’s 2025 policy “pillars” and “values” agenda for the Caribbean?

BRADES, Montserrat, September 26, 2019 –  “Governance” is about how the big decisions are made, and how they are made to stick. That becomes a challenge when we have murky swamps and lurking dragons to deal with. So, how do we drain the swamp and deal with the dragons?[1] Especially, with an election just around the corner, with a £63 million [~ EC$ 200 million] development programme on the table that needs to be managed properly; also, with Brexit and a UN Decolonisation Committee visit also to happen, maybe by December?

For one, we have to recognise that elections can easily become part of the problem rather than the wave- a- magic- wand instant solution.

As Acts 27:11 – 12 reminds us, when St Paul warned the ship’s company of dangerous winter storms at Fair Havens, “the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said . . . the majority decided to put out to sea.” So, they set sail for Phoenix, a nicer winter harbour 40 miles away, only to be caught in such a storm and shipwrecked at Malta; hundreds of miles off course. Yes, Mr Moneybags, his bought and paid for technical experts, stubborn ignorance and want of common sense can easily turn democratic elections into ruinous voyages of folly: de-mock-racy, not democracy.[2] Merely having elections won’t solve the problem.

Similarly, if our “permanent government” – the senior civil service – is “not fit for purpose” (as former Governor Carriere said in an unguarded, frank moment) then we are going to be hampered every step of the way by lack of capacity, foot-dragging, outright incompetence and even corruption. And if many candidates for election are cut from the same roll of cloth,[3] that will only multiply the problem.

For elections to work, we need to have a choice of credible, competent, good-character candidates with sound policy proposals, and if policies are to be implemented, our senior civil service will need drastic reforms led by Cabinet. We will have to fix the DfID-FCO side of the problem, too.

This part of the problem is why, over the past several weeks, we here at TMR have looked at the needed Charter of Good Governance and Development Partnership MoU with the UK; which have actually been on the table for several years, but were obviously road-blocked. Such agreements and such Resolutions of our Assembly would give us tools to drain the murky waters so beloved of swamp-dwelling chaos-dragons . . . that’s how they can lurk in ambush.

A capacity-building component would help us build a new generation of policy and political leadership. The creation of a priority transformational programme with agreed “catalytic” infrastructure-building projects supported by designated expediters and sound PRINCE2-style governance systems would then move us beyond the stop, study, start, stop, restudy pattern. For sure, without a protected sea port, without an improved airport, without fibre optic cable digital access and without developed geothermal energy, we are a poor investment and growth prospect.

Correction, we should have already been doing those projects.   Yes, that is what frustrating the Charter of Good Governance, the Development Partnership MoU and linked reforms cost us, after the MDC’s failure.[4] Where, with the Programme Management Office head frog marched off within months of his arrival (followed by nearly two years of foot dragging on a new head), we can see what happens when the dragons strike back. 

As for church, professional, media and general community leaders, they will obviously typically reflect our general level.

For instance, why isn’t the lesson of Acts 27 routinely, repeatedly taught in our churches? There are of course sterling exceptions, and a few years back in these pages we reported on a series of meetings held by a visiting senior church leader, the Rev Dr. Nicholson.[5] And, there have been other voices, in our churches, on the streets, in TMR’s pages and elsewhere. So, our prolonged plight is not for lack of being prophetically warned and counseled. As a fair comment, the Apostle Paul also warned that in these last days many would reject or dismiss sound instruction; instead, seeking out those who would tickle itching ears with what they want to hear – as happened in Acts 27.  Soundness, is very much a cultivated taste (like healthy vegetables).

We also face a rapidly changing world situation. Whatever our opinions on how Brexit was voted in and on the UK’s new Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, Brexit is to happen “soon.” That is naturally going to shift the UK’s policy focus back to the Commonwealth and to the Overseas Territories, even as going into the European Common Market (which developed into the European Union, as intended) shifted focus away from us.

Where, no, for centuries, the UK has been skilled at three- moves- ahead policy and strategic thinking, so the notion that they are so taken up with Brexit that they can’t see beyond the immediate crisis is nonsense. Obviously, in the background, there are many people studying issues and framing long term options as we speak. Indeed, just a few days ago, Mr Asif Anwar Ahmad, UK High Commissioner to Jamaica announced as follows regarding the United Kingdom’s “Strategy for the Caribbean, its six Overseas Territories in the region and Bermuda up to 2025”[6]:

“the [UK’s] strategy has three pillars — partners on values, partners on prosperity, and partners on protecting people . . . . the strategy calls for increased support for the region on the UK’s priorities which include good governance, human rights and democracy, including issues such as the death penalty and LGBT rights.”

How are we going to manage things like using the prestige and power of our Courts to unilaterally amend Constitutions from the Bench to impose radical agendas?

That has already been put on the table by Justice Antony Smellie in the Cayman Islands,[7] and it is by no means certain that the Appeals Court will defer to the argument that Constitutions should only be amended through proper process involving parliament and people.

Where, from FCO answers to UK Foreign Affairs Committee questions, it is already clear that the FCO is willing to go along with – or is even quietly pushing for – such blatantly undemocratic usurpations. Policies, that promote fashionable anti-Christian “values” and agendas.   The resulting potential for political destabilisation, increased social conflicts, moral confusion and chaos could easily dwarf the formidable challenges we already face.

Similarly, after days of meetings with the UN General Assembly [UNGA], embattled US President Donald Trump announced on September 25th that negotiations are in progress with the UK for a major post-Brexit trade deal. That deal is likely to be fairly similar to existing deals with Canada etc. How can we OT’s use the Joint Ministerial Council process to get a slice or two of the American pie?

These and many other issues point to an urgent need for a different level of awareness regarding trends, issues, pros and cons of policy options, etc. They point to a need for political, civil service, church and civil society leadership and independent thought at a different level. Yes, we here at TMR will continue to do our part as The People’s College.  However, as a nation, we need – right now – people with high capacity, the character of spiritual maturity, vision and values to tackle the sort of policy and frankly, world views challenges that are now on the table. Not, in five years’ time, now.

How are we going to address that? E


[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-why-do-we-need-a-development-partnership-mou-with-the-uk/

[2] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-15-2016-will-we-have-democracy-or-de-mock-racy/

[3] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/we-need-a-new-politics-of-truth-soundness-and-national-consensus/

[4] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/the-mdc-little-bay-gun-hill-fiasco/

[5] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-20-2016-how-do-we-build-a-wholesome-god-fearing-society/

[6] See: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/uk-to-push-jamaica-on-lgbt-right

[7] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/answering-cj-smellie-neither-tradition-nor-religion-could-form-the-rational-basis-for-a-law/ and https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/

Posted in Columns, De Ole Dawg, International, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

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Brexit Showdown in Parliament as Boris Johnson Warns of a General Election


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Demonstrators outside Downing Street in London on Saturday protesting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament.
Demonstrators outside Downing Street in London on Saturday protesting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament.CreditCreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

By Stephen Castle

  • Sept. 3, 2019, 6:16 a.m. ET

LONDON — British lawmakers were preparing on Tuesday for one of the most critical showdowns of the country’s agonizing three-year Brexit battle, with Parliament expected to try to stop the government from leaving the European Union without an agreement — a maneuver that could prompt a third general election in four years.

Lawmakers are expected to try to seize control of events in Parliament, a process that is normally the preserve of the government. Such a move would clear the way for them to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if he fails to reach an exit agreement with the bloc.

The clash on Tuesday has been made possible by a faction of lawmakers in Mr. Johnson’s own party who have said they will not support a no-deal departure, threatening to defy the prime minister’s warning that Tory rebels will be expelled from the party if they pursue the parliamentary effort.

Mr. Johnson said on Monday that he would not ask the European Union to extend the Brexit deadline under any circumstances.
Mr. Johnson said on Monday that he would not ask the European Union to extend the Brexit deadline under any circumstances.CreditChris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Mr. Johnson, who holds only the slimmest of majorities in Parliament, said on Monday that he would not ask the European Union to extend the deadline under any circumstances, meaning that his only option would be to call for a general election, which would be expected to be called for Oct. 14.

The confrontation is the latest chapter in an escalating crisis over Brexit that has divided Britons. It has torn apart the governing Conservative Party, provoked claims that Mr. Johnson is trampling the conventions of Britain’s unwritten constitution and led to accusations that Brexit opponents are trying to circumvent the results of a democratic referendum.

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Opponents of a no-deal Brexit argue that Mr. Johnson’s promise to leave the bloc without a deal would be catastrophic for the British economy. Many experts say it could lead to shortages of food, fuel and medicine, and wreak havoc on parts of the manufacturing sector that rely on the seamless flow of goods across the English Channel.

Despite the threats of a party purge, Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the Exchequer under Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, said on Tuesday that he would join the efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit, adding that he thought the rebels had enough support for victory.

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Mr. Johnson’s government has only the narrowest of majorities in Parliament.
Mr. Johnson’s government has only the narrowest of majorities in Parliament.CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times

Mr. Hammond also dismissed claims from the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, that opponents of a no-deal Brexit were undermining Mr. Johnson’s negotiating strategy in Brussels. There had been, Mr. Hammond told the BBC, no progress in those talks.

To add to the turmoil and confusion, the opposition Labour Party said it might thwart Mr. Johnson’s attempt to push for a general election, should it come to that. Under a 2011 law, the prime minister needs a two-thirds majority in order to secure a snap election.

The bitter dispute has taken Britain into new political territory. Last week Mr. Johnson provoked outrage by curtailing Parliament’s sessions in September and October, compacting the amount of time lawmakers would have to deal with the most crucial decision the country has faced in decades.

Mr. Johnson says he needs to keep the no-deal option on the table to give him leverage in talks in Brussels, because an abrupt exit would also damage continental economies, if not as much as Britain’s.

Philip Hammond, left, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, said on Tuesday that he would join the efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Philip Hammond, left, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, said on Tuesday that he would join the efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit.CreditPeter Summers/Getty Images

On Monday, he said that the rebels were trying to “chop the legs” from his negotiating position at a time when he is making progress, although the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, gave a more downbeat assessment of those negotiations.

Mr. Hammond told the BBC on Tuesday that Mr. Johnson’s claim was “disingenuous” because there was “no progress going on” in discussions in Brussels. One of the most unlikely of rebels, Mr. Hammond was a senior member of the cabinet two months ago, and his downbeat style and focus on economic detail earned him the nickname “Spreadsheet Phil.”

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But he accused his enemies of trying to turn the Conservative Party from “a broad church into a narrow faction,” and criticized Mr. Johnson’s close aide Dominic Cummings.

If Mr. Johnson does pursue a general election, Mr. Hammond said he would try to block that push.

There is so little trust in British politics that Mr. Johnson’s opponents fear that he might request an election for Oct. 14 but then switch the date until after Oct. 31 as part of a move to lock in a no-deal withdrawal.

Labour, which has its own polarizing leader in Jeremy Corbyn, has said it might thwart Mr. Johnson’s attempt to push for a general election.
Labour, which has its own polarizing leader in Jeremy Corbyn, has said it might thwart Mr. Johnson’s attempt to push for a general election.CreditAnthony Devlin/Getty Images

Labour, which has its own polarizing leader in Jeremy Corbyn, has said that its priority is to stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal because of concerns about what such a departure would mean for the economy.

But Labour’s stance underscores that the backdrop to everything in British politics is a sense that a general election is looming, with key players maneuvering for the most advantageous moment.

Even with the support of 10 lawmakers from Northern Ireland, the government has a working majority in Parliament of just one, a position that cannot be sustained by any administration for long, let alone one facing the challenge of Brexit.

Mr. Johnson is trying to unite the political right, particularly Brexit supporters frustrated with Britain’s failure to leave the bloc earlier this year. Some Tories fear that they face an existential threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, leading to a belief that Mr. Johnson must pursue a no-deal Brexit, whatever the economic cost, to save his party.

Others think that the disruption likely to flow from such a rupture would make it impossible for the government to win a vote.

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