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Monday, April 10, 2017

Parliament is Voting…. Democracy in Action! (Old News Now)

MPs back government's Brexit timetable.

MPs have voted to back the government's plan to start formal talks on Brexit by the end of March next year. They also supported a Labour motion calling for Parliament to "properly scrutinise" the government in its proposals for leaving the EU. The votes followed a compromise between Labour and the Conservatives, who had argued over the questions to be put. The House of Commons' decisions are not binding on ministers. MPs backed Labour's motion, saying the government should publish a plan and it was "Parliament's responsibility to properly scrutinise the government" over Brexit, by 448 votes to 75 - a margin of 373. This followed another vote over the government's amendment to the motion, which added the proviso that its timetable for triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, getting formal talks with the EU under way, should be respected. MPs backed this by 461 votes to 89 - a margin of 372.

Supreme Court Brexit case told Scotland should get say on Brexit.

Scotland's top legal officer has said the Scottish Parliament's consent is needed before the UK triggers Brexit. Lord Advocate James Wolffe said he was not arguing Holyrood had a veto, but said its consent was required because of the "significant changes" Brexit would make to its powers. He was speaking on day three of the Supreme Court battle over who can invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Ministers say they can do so with without consulting Parliament. But campaigners dispute this, and earlier on Wednesday their lead lawyer said the government's argument "violates" basic principles of constitutional law. Lord Wolffe, who will continue his argument on Thursday, agreed the UK Parliament should be consulted, and argued that Holyrood should also have a say. The UK government has already responded to his argument, telling the court on Tuesday it was "fatally undermined" by powers over foreign affairs being reserved to Westminster.

Supreme Court president: Court won't overturn Brexit vote.

The historic Brexit legal challenge has drawn to a close with a reminder from the Supreme Court that it will not "overturn the result of the EU referendum". Lord Neuberger said the case focused on "the process by which that result can lawfully be brought into effect". The Supreme Court president promised a decision "as soon as possible". The hearing ended with the government's lawyer arguing ministers have the authority to trigger Brexit. The case centres on the whether the UK government has the power to serve notice of its intention to quit the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty or whether, as various campaigners have claimed, it must seek Parliament's authorisation. The first case to be heard before all Supreme Court 11 justices, it has pitted some of the leading figures in the legal world against each other and included arguments from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Food industry warns of higher prices without EU workers.

The UK faces higher food prices without continued access to EU workers, 30 food and drink associations have warned. In a letter published in the Guardian, they argue that EU workers play an important role in the supply chain and some are already starting to leave. It called on the government to offer "unambiguous reassurance" about their right to remain. The Home Office said in response it was "harnessing the industry's knowledge" and "ensuring their voice was heard". Nearly four million people in the UK are employed in everything from harvesting to production to selling food and drink. In food manufacturing just under a third of workers are from the EU. "Workers from the EU, some of whom are already leaving the UK, play a significant role in delivering affordable and high-quality food and drink," the letter said. "The government should offer unambiguous reassurance to EU workers throughout our supply chain about their right to remain. For the longer term, it is important to recognise that these workers are highly flexible and provide an essential reservoir of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour." The trade associations also warn that the country's food security is at risk and that many workers are already leaving in the wake of the Brexit vote and the fall in the value of the pound. They call for the importance of the industry to be recognised to the country's "economic and physical wellbeing" and argue that it should receive equal treatment to the financial or automotive sectors. "All options should be explored, including a workable points-based system for shortage occupations, sector-based and seasonal/guest worker schemes and effective transitionary arrangements," they say. "If they are not, the UK will face less food choice and higher food prices." Signatories to the letter include the Food and Drink Federation, the Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers and the British Beer and Pubs Association.

Chancellor urges Brexit interim deal.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has backed a transitional deal for Brexit saying it would be "helpful" to allow longer than two years for the UK's EU exit. Mr Hammond told the Treasury select committee that there was an "emerging view" that having longer would tend towards a "smoother transition". There would be "less risks of disruption" including "crucially risks to financial stability", he added. However, both business and government would have to make changes, he said. His comments are being seen as the strongest signal yet from the government that the Brexit process could take a lot longer than the two years needed for the official Article 50 exit process to be completed. On Monday the Treasury Select Committee called for written submissions on transitional arrangements as part of its inquiry into the UK's future economic relationship with the EU. It defines "transitional arrangements" as being "any arrangement that takes effect between the point at which the UK formally leaves the EU... and the point at which the UK's final, settled relationship with the EU becomes effective. I would not want anybody to think this is just about financial services," Mr Hammond told MPs. “For example, depending on what future customs arrangements are between the UK and European Union, there could be significant physical infrastructure changes that need to be made at ports of entry and exit, not only in the UK but on continental Europe as well," he added. He said there could also be a need to train large numbers of people in anticipation of a "much more intensive process at borders. So it's not just the business sector, it's also the government sector that has to think about how long it takes to make changes, hire people, train people, introduce IT changes. And I think the further we go into this discussion, the more likely it is that we will mutually conclude that we need a longer period to deliver," he added.

All details above from BBC News website.

[…and it’s gone all quiet again as Civil Servants and numberless Consultants on both sides of the Channel produce ‘position papers’ and strive the get their ‘principles’ the best position at their particular tables. In other words we’re seeing the opening moves in the ‘Phoney Brexit’ before the real negotiations start and the mudslinging inevitably kicks off. That’s when the shocks will come and the chickens, now well and truly roasted, will be coming home.]

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