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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, March 06, 2017

The so-called ‘Will of the People’….

Government 'prepares three-line Brexit bill'.

The government has prepared a short three-line bill to begin the Brexit process - so Theresa May can meet her March deadline, it is understood. Sources say they believe the legislation is so tightly drawn it will be difficult for critical MPs to amend. Ministers have drawn up the legislation in case they lose their appeal to the Supreme Court - which would force them to consult Parliament. The High Court ruled against the government earlier this month. Sources say the government would plan to introduce the bill in the Commons immediately after the Supreme Court ruling. The hope would be to push the bill through the Commons in two weeks. It would then go to the House of Lords where it is understood the government hopes peers would back down. They believe peers would not dare defy MPs - if the Commons had approved the legislation. Sources say they have devised the bill to be "bomb-proof" to amendments. This would mean Mrs May could meet her March deadline for triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins the formal negotiation process. Sources say although they looked at allowing Parliament a vote through "a substantive motion" rather than legislation, they decided this would leave them vulnerable to further legal challenge.

Scots and Welsh can have say in Brexit court case.

The Scottish and Welsh governments are to be allowed to have a say in the Supreme Court battle over how Brexit should be triggered. The government is appealing against a High Court ruling that MPs must get a vote on triggering Article 50. The Supreme Court confirmed that Wales and Scotland's senior law officers will be allowed to take part in the appeal. UK PM Theresa May said on Friday that work was "on track" to begin the formal process of Brexit by April 2017. At a joint press briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, following a meeting with EU leaders in Berlin, Mrs May said: "We stand ready to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017 and I want to see this as a smooth process, an orderly process, working towards a solution that's in the interests of both the UK and also in the interests of our European partners." She was speaking after the Supreme Court confirmed that Scotland's senior law officer, the Lord Advocate, had been invited to address the court on the relevance of points of Scots law. The Counsel General for Wales will make arguments about the importance of parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law. The Supreme Court hearing is expected to start on 5 December and last four days, with the decision expected in the New Year.

Drop Brexit case appeal, senior Tories urge May.

Theresa May should abandon an appeal against the court ruling that means MPs must vote on the UK leaving the EU, leading Conservatives say. Sir Oliver Letwin, former head of the government's Brexit preparations, and two former law officers said the case should not go to the Supreme Court. Instead, they want ministers to bring a bill to Parliament to start the process of Brexit as soon as possible. The government said it would robustly defend its position at the appeal. The MPs voiced their concerns after the Supreme Court decided on Friday that the Scottish and Welsh governments should have a say at the appeal hearing in December. Former minister Sir Oliver, who oversaw a "Brexit Unit" in the Cabinet Office after the referendum, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the Supreme Court hearing could see ministers' powers outside Parliament curbed. He added that one of the advantages of bringing a "fast and tightly timetabled and constrained bill" to Parliament, giving the government the ability to trigger Brexit without any constraints on its negotiating power, was that it avoided "any risk of the Supreme Court deciding to accord the devolved administrations some rights or even some veto powers".

Tesco warns global suppliers over price rises.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis has warned global suppliers not to artificially inflate their prices because of the fall in the pound. It is his first public comments since supplier Unilever tried to raise the cost of popular items such as Marmite due to a weaker currency. The UK's biggest retailer briefly halted online sales of Unilever's goods. Mr Lewis said price rises needed to be "justified". He agreed there were inflationary pressures, but he said multi-national companies should not increase prices just to reassure investors. Mr Lewis pointed out that such businesses presented results in both constant and current exchange rates to take account of currency volatility. "The only thing we would ask of companies that are in that position is they don't ask UK customers to pay inflated prices in order that their reporting currency is maintained," he said. "They don't do that for countries outside of the UK." Unilever had argued price rises were necessary to cover higher import costs even though Marmite was being manufactured in the UK. Mr Lewis, who worked for Unilever for 28 years, quickly reached an agreement with his old employer, but the terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The pound has fallen by about 16% against the dollar since the UK voted in June to leave the EU. It has also fallen to a lesser extent against the euro. A weaker pound pushes up the price of imported goods, although it also makes UK exports cheaper for foreign buyers.

Academics 'must not be used as Brexit pawns'.

Scientists, academics and students should not be used as "pawns" in political negotiations over Brexit, Theresa May is being warned. People from all sections of academia, and MPs, are calling for EU researchers working in the UK to be exempted from any future immigration controls. The prime minister has said she cannot guarantee EU nationals the right to stay without reciprocal arrangements. The Science and Technology Committee has called for immediate action. The call comes ahead of a demonstration in central London on Saturday. University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt will urge the Prime Minister to "stop using EU staff and students as pawns in Brexit negotiations". "Show some humanity. Do the decent thing. Give our people the right to stay," she will say. Prof Ottoline Leyser, representing the Royal Society, told the committee there were 31,000 non-UK EU citizens working in research in academia in the UK.

Sixty Conservative MPs back call to leave single market.

Sixty Conservative MPs, including seven ex-cabinet ministers, are calling for Britain to quit the single market and customs union when it leaves the EU. Writing in the Telegraph, Suella Fernandes MP said only in leaving will "we truly be a beacon of international free trade". Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villier are among her backers. Meanwhile, other senior Tories are urging the PM to drop an appeal against a ruling that MPs must vote on Brexit. The group of 60 MPs want Britain to pull out of both the European single market and the customs union, which allows its members to trade without tariffs but imposes common duties on goods imported from outside the bloc. Ms Fernandes said the 23 June vote to leave the EU was "an instruction to untie ourselves from EU shackles and freely embrace the rest of the world. As was made clear in the referendum campaign, remaining in the EU's internal market, like Norway, or in a customs union like Turkey is not compatible with either of these commitments and doing so would frustrate the will of the electorate."

All details above from BBC News website.

[The clock is ticking so loud these days that it’s keeping me awake. No doubt when Article 50 is enacted (in a few weeks apparently) the expected result will be keeping a lot of other people up too – hoping against hope that the pound doesn’t collapse as it did after the original vote last Summer. ]

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