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Monday, July 17, 2017

An Attack on Democracy (Still some catching up to do)….

Attacks on judges undermine law - Supreme Court president.

The president of the UK's Supreme Court has criticised politicians for not doing enough to defend judges following a row over the Brexit legal challenge. Lord Neuberger said politicians did not speak out quickly or clearly enough and some media attacks had been unfair. He said unjustified attacks on the judiciary undermined the rule of law. After the government lost the Article 50 case at the High Court, a Daily Mail headline called the three judges in the case "enemies of the people". Lord Chancellor and justice minister Liz Truss said she was "delighted" that Lord Neuberger was "proactively talking about the role of the judiciary in public." She added: "It is right that everyone understands the importance of its independence and the rule of law in a free society." Lord Neuberger, who retires in September, was speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme a month after the Supreme Court ruled that only Parliament, not ministers, had the power to trigger the UK's exit from the EU because that was where laws were made. In his interview, Lord Neuberger did not single out any newspaper or politician, but said: "We [judges in general] were certainly not well treated. One has to be careful about being critical of the press particularly as a lawyer or judge because our view of life is very different from that of the media. "I think some of what was said was undermining the rule of law." Asked whether politicians had responded quickly enough to defend the judiciary and rule of law, Lord Neuberger said: "They were certainly vocal enough quickly enough after our hearing [in the Supreme Court]. After the [High] Court hearing. I think they could have been quicker and clearer. But we all learn by experience, whether politicians or judges. It's easy to be critical after the event. They were faced with an unexpected situation from which like all sensible people they learned." Lord Neuberger said that undermining the judiciary also undermined the rule of law as judges were "the ultimate guardians" of it. "The rule of law together with democracy is one of the two pillars on which our society is based," he added. "And therefore if, without good reason, the media or anyone else undermines the judiciary that risks undermining our society. The press and the media generally have a positive duty to keep an eye on things. But I think with that power comes the degree of responsibility."

Retail sales fall unexpectedly in January.

Retail sales slipped back unexpectedly in January, following on from December's dip. Official figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed retail sales volumes dropped by 0.3% compared with the previous month, well below the 0.9% rise expected. The ONS said the data indicated the first signs of a fall in the underlying trend since December 2013. It said evidence suggested higher fuel and food prices were key factors. Compared with January 2016, sales were up 1.5%, the weakest performance since November 2013. Figures earlier this week from the ONS showed inflation rose to its highest level in two and a half years at a time when wage growth was slowing down. Fuel prices jumped 16.1% in January, the biggest changed since September 2011. Analysts said consumers were becoming wary of spending at a time when employment and earnings growth was slowing and inflation rising. Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Economics said consumers were starting to "crumble" in the face of inflation pressure. Ruth Gregory, from Capital Economics, said: "January's surprise fall in the official measure of retail sales volumes has brought the recent run of resilient economic news to an abrupt end. And the rest of the year is shaping up to be tough on the high street, given the expected squeeze on consumers' real pay growth."

EU citizens 'denied residence documents'.

EU citizens living in the UK say they are being denied a guarantee of permanent residency because they do not have health insurance. A little-known rule requires EU citizens not in work or looking for work to buy comprehensive insurance. One man told the Today programme that his application was rejected, despite living in the UK since the age of 13. Peers are now trying to change the law. The Home Office said securing the status of EU migrants was a priority. Since the referendum in June, many EU citizens have applied for documents guaranteeing the right to live permanently in the UK. But the documents can only be obtained by migrants who have consistently either worked, sought work, or bought the insurance for five years. The Home Office does not remove people for failing to buy insurance, but will not issue them with the guarantee of permanent residence. As EU migrants can use the NHS, many did not realise they needed health insurance. Students and full-time parents are among those affected. They are worried they could be vulnerable after Britain leaves the EU.

Brexit: Mandelson urges Lords not to 'throw in towel'.

Former Labour minister Lord Mandelson has urged peers not to "throw in the towel" when they debate legislation paving the way for Brexit. He said the Lords should amend a bill to protect the rights of EU citizens to ensure a "meaningful" vote on the final deal before Britain leaves the EU. He urged fellow Labour peers to show "strength and clarity" over the issue. Conservative Justice Secretary Liz Truss said Brexit opponents were "fighting yesterday's battles". The House of Lords - in which the government does not have an in-built majority - will start considering proposed legislation to leave the EU on Monday. But the former Labour cabinet minister, EU Trade commissioner and Remain campaigner said the "verbal guarantees" the government were offering EU citizens in the UK were insufficient. Lord Mandelson told the Andrew Marr programme that the Lords should "reinstate" the protections into the bill in the coming weeks. "The government used its majority to bulldoze the legislation through the House of Commons," he said. "I hope it won't be so successful in the House of Lords," he said. "At the end of the day the House of Commons, because it is the elected chamber, will prevail but I hope the House of Lords will not throw in the towel early." But Ms Truss said leaving the EU was the "settled will" of the British people and the House of Lords needed to "get on" with the process.

All details above from BBC News website.

[As the negotiations get down to proper bargaining we’re getting a much better picture of how difficult things are going to be. Before we even think about the all-important Trade negotiations the position of EU Citizens in the UK and Brits in the EU needs to be sorted. Then there’s the hugely controversial ‘divorce bill’ that we’ll need to pay on leaving and, if that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, the process of writing the hundreds of EU Laws into the UK Legal system. At the end of the process I do hope that someone somewhere will tell us how much this is costing us!]


Stephen said...

We Americans had a saying....millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute. From this side of the pond, I would think the greatest source of economic problems at the moment is sheer uncertainty. I assume the extortion money/divorce bill is being paid to get the EU to the table for a trade agreement?

(I wonder what the South would have done if Lincoln had asked for money...that would be an interesting basis for an alt-history series, I guess. A divided America with no civil war!)

CyberKitten said...

@ Stephen: As far as I can tell the 'divorce' settlement is something we signed up to (probably decades ago when no one thought we'd ever leave) and is something we're contracted to do/pay. Boris said recently that the EU can whistle for the money. The EU President responded that he couldn't hear any whistling, just the clock ticking.

Without a divorce agreement there will be no trade talks and that will hurt us a LOT. So essentially they've got us over a barrel for money we are legally obligated to pay them anyway (and will end up paying anyway one way or another). As usual the Tories are playing to their core anti-EU supporters. Of course while we faff around the edges an actual trade agreement prior to leaving moves further and further away. I wonder who they'll blame when that happens?

Stephen said...

If they're anything like the US establishment, the Russians. ;)

CyberKitten said...

What would Governments do without their bogeymen? If they didn't exist they'd just invent them..... [walks away whistling softly]

Mudpuddle said...

"the law is what i say it is, no more or no less" ah for the days of Pitt and Burke...