Category Archives: Brexit

Weekly News Round-up 09/12/16

UK News

Brexit In The Supreme Court: Everything You Need To Know In Plain English

Source: RightsInfo.org

Full article here.


Private schools in England propose 10,000 free places

Independent schools in England have pushed to restart the assisted places scheme, by offering 10,000 free places to children at state schools in return for a government subsidy.

The move is a response from private schools to the government’s recent green paper on expanding the number of grammar schools, which threatens to strip charitable status from private schools that fail to help run state schools.

The Ofsted chief inspector, Michael Wilshaw, criticised the ISC’s new proposal as not going far enough. “I think they can do better than that and if I was government I would be asking them to do more as a quid pro quo for their tax privileges,” he told BBC Radio 4.

The ISC countered that the move would be the equivalent of building 10 new state secondary schools, and represented a considerable saving for the government.

Full article here.


Segregation at ‘worrying levels’ in parts of Britain, Dame Louise Casey warns

Segregation and social exclusion are at “worrying levels” and are fuelling inequality in some areas of Britain, a report has found. Women in some communities are denied “even their basic rights as British residents”, the Casey Review said.

She found “high levels of social and economic isolation in some places, and cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back, but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws”.

Her report highlighted the plight of women in some Muslim communities, who she said were less likely to speak English and more likely to be kept at home. “Misogyny and patriarchy has to come to an end,” Dame Louise said, adding that public institutions must not fear being racist or Islamophobic.

Among her recommendations were that immigrants could take “an oath of integration with British values and society” and schoolchildren be taught British values.

Full article here.


Court rejects bid to halt Southern train drivers’ industrial action

The high court has rejected an attempt by the owners of Southern rail to prevent train drivers from taking industrial action.

The operators of Southern, Govia Thameslink Railway, had argued that the action by members of the Aslef union, which includes an overtime ban as well as impending strikes, was contrary to European law guaranteeing the rights of people to travel and of companies to invest, with GTR being partially owned by the French firm Keolis.

But the judge, Sir Michael Burton, turned down GTR’s bid for an injunction. The company has said the journeys of hundreds of thousands of commuters will be severely affected, with no trains at all expected to run during three days of strikes by drivers next week.

The overtime ban was overwhelmingly endorsed by a ballot of Southern drivers in Aslef. It is part of a long-running dispute about Southern’s plans to bring in more driver-only operated trains. A smaller but clear majority voted to strike as well.

Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, said the legal case by GTR was a waste of money: “Chris Grayling, the secretary of state for transport, said this strike was political. A line which has been parroted by GTR. But it’s not. It’s industrial. Driver-only operation is inherently unsafe.”

Full article here.


‘Prevent’ strategy to be challenged for first time in British high court

The British government’s Prevent strategy is set to face its first legal challenge in the high court on Tuesday. Salman Butt, who is a British-Muslim activist, launched the legal action after he was accused of being a “non-violent extremist” by the British government.

The Prevent strategy has been a cornerstone in the British government’s attempts to curb militancy and stop the “radicalisation” of young people. Despite being lauded as a success by the British government, the Prevent strategy has come under heavy criticism by the Muslim community and senior politicians.

His lawyers will specifically be challenging parts of the Prevent strategy that aim to stop people becoming or supporting terrorism. It will also challenge the definition of “extremism” used by the Prevent strategy and how the so-called Extremism Analysis Unit collected information about Dr Butt.

The case was allowed to proceed earlier this year, after a High Court judge ruled that Butt had a legitimate legal case against the home secretary.

A spokesperson for the British Home Office declined to comment on Butt’s case as the legal proceedings were ongoing.

Full article here.

 

World News

Legal experts say Turkey went ‘too far’ in coup response

Turkey went “too far” with emergency measures adopted following a failed July 15 coup attempt, a panel of constitutional law experts said in an opinion adopted Friday.

The Council of Europe, also known as the Venice Commission, said Turkish authorities had good reasons to declare a state of emergency in response to a “dangerous armed conspiracy,” but concluded that Ankara’s measures contravened the country’s constitution and international law.

The opinion took particular issue with the collective dismissal of “tens of thousands of public servants” on the basis of lists appended to emergency decrees rather than “verifiable evidence” in each individual case.

The panel observed that people were fired or arrested based on “connections” to a terror group that were “too loosely defined and did not require a meaningful connection with such organizations.”

The expert opinion, which will be made public in full on Monday, also expressed concern from the increase of pre-trial detention without judicial review from four to 30 days.

Full article here.

South Korea’s parliament votes to impeach president over corruption scandal

South Korea’s National Assembly voted by a huge margin Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye over her role in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal, forcing her to immediately hand over the running of the country to a caretaker prime minister.

But despite the clear condemnation from both politicians and the general public, Park signaled that she would remain defiant even while being stripped of power and would wait with a “calm and clear mind” while the conservative-leaning Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold the legislature’s impeachment motion.

That means that South Korea could be in for a long period of paralysis. The court now has six months to rule, creating a power vacuum in South Korea at the same time the United States is going through its own presidential transition.

The scandal centers on allegations that the famously aloof Park — the country’s first female president and daughter of military strongman Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s — took advice from a secret confidante on a wide variety of topics, including North Korean policy and her wardrobe.

Prosecutors said that the confidante, Choi Soon-sil, a lifelong friend and daughter of a shadowy cult leader, used that relationship to enrich herself by at least $70 million and gain advantages for her family. Choi has been indicted on charges, including abuse of power and extortion, and is in detention.

Full article here.


Uzbekistan is about to get its first new president in more than a quarter-century

Uzbeks went to the polls Sunday in the first election since the death of longtime autocratic leader Islam Karimov. In a sign of continuity with his quarter-century of authoritarian rule, the vote seemed to have only one possible outcome.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, a veteran politician who has served as the nation’s prime minister since 2003, was poised to win Sunday evening, with the elections commission in the Central Asian nation of 31 million reporting more than 70 percent turnout by 5 p.m.

Mirziyoyev will become just the second president of Uzbekistan since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Karimov, who died of a stroke in September, ruled the country virtually unopposed, and often brutally, for 27 years.

Mirziyoyev has made some tentative steps to show that his rule may not be as severe as under Karimov, who jailed his political opponents and in particular cracked down on Muslim groups under the pretense of battling Islamism. In one case, he was accused of ordering several prisoners to be boiled alive.

Mirziyoyev has indicated that he may relax tensions with Uzbekistan’s neighbors and will consider economic reforms for the country’s overregulated economy.

Full article here.

Brexit judgment – what does it mean?

On Thursday, the UK High Court decided that the Government did not have the power to trigger Brexit negotiations and needed approval from Parliament before doing so.

Why was this in court?

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union allows a member state to notify the EU of its withdrawal and obliges the EU to try to negotiate a ‘withdrawal agreement’ with that state.

The Government argued that they could use their ‘prerogative powers’ to trigger Article 50.

These are a very old source of law which grants specific powers to the government (technically, the Queen). One example of prerogative powers is the making and unmaking of international treaties.

That is permissible because generally exercising those powers has no effect on domestic law, so there is no collision with parliamentary legislation, and parliamentary sovereignty is not affected.

However, the government cannot use prerogative powers to override legislation. Only legislation can override legislation.

By enacting the 1972 European Communities Act, which took the UK into what was then the European Economic Community, now the EU, Parliament made EU law part of our law.

More here.

What did the court rule?

The court decided that the Government can’t exercise Article 50 (therefore triggering an almost inevitable exit from the EU) without getting Parliament’s approval first.

This is because membership of the European Union has given many rights to British citizens, such as free movement across Europe and rights under the European Union Charter.

Therefore, only Parliament could take away the rights that Parliament has granted to British citizens through decades of EU laws.

More here and full judgment here.

What does this mean for Brexit?

The judgment does not block Brexit, it simply means that Parliament (MPs we voted for) and not the Government (Theresa May and her cabinet) have the final say on when and on what terms Brexit will happen.

It is likely that MPs will still vote to invoke Article 50. Although the referendum was only advisory and the MPs are not legally bound to act by it, it would be politically difficult to ignore ‘the will of the people’.

The proposed time frame to triggering Article 50 will now almost certainly be later as Parliament will have to debate the issue.

Owen Smith suggested Labour should amend any possible Article 50 bill to include a second EU referendum. However, Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed that Labour is still committed to Brexit. Along with other parties, he stressed the need for Brexit to work for ‘everyone’ and so the chances of a ‘hard Brexit’ have now decreased significantly.

Government reaction to the court ruling

The Government will be appealing the judgment. Given the significance of the matter and the time frame May has set to trigger Article 50 (March 2017), the appeal will go straight to the UK Supreme Court (the highest court in the UK).

Reactions from other political parties

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader:

Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit.

Labour will be pressing the case for a Brexit that works for Britain, putting jobs, living standards and the economy first.

Caroline Lucas, the Green party’s co-leader:

We welcome this ruling which shows that ministers do not have the power to trigger article 50 without consulting parliament.

Parliament must have the opportunity to debate and vote on triggering Article 50, rather than a group of ministers at the top table having total control over this country’s future place in the world.

The Green party will continue to fight to protect free movement, workers’ rights and the vital environmental protections we currently have as part of the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister:

That the UK government is now in the position where the court has ruled against it and is insisting that parliament must vote before article 50 can be triggered underlines the chaos and confusion at the heart of the Tories’ handling of Brexit.

Let’s be clear – the prime minister has not tried to avoid parliament because of constitutional principles but because any vote in parliament would expose the complete lack of a plan for what Brexit means.

In whatever eventually comes forward from the UK government to parliament, SNP MPs will not vote in any way that would undermine Scotland’s interests.

Carwyn Jones, first minister of Wales:

The high court ruling is extremely clear – the UK government cannot trigger article 50 using the Crown prerogative. Indeed, this is consistent with many of the arguments made by the leave campaign themselves about parliamentary sovereignty.

The position of the Welsh government has been consistent throughout – we accept the decision made by the people and will not work against the referendum result – we are working hard to get the best possible exit terms for Wales. However, it is important that votes take place in all four nations to endorse the UK negotiating position. 

For more reactions, see The Guardian.