How well do you remember Brexit? Take the ultimate quiz!

Test your knowledge of the last four years with our Ultimate Brexit Quiz. It is almost as difficult as the negotiation process.

Brexit transition period “nowhere near long enough”

A former member of the European Commission has claimed that the Brexit transition period will not be long enough for the government to complete negotiations and secure a trade deal with the EU.

Speaking to EN4 News, Emeritus Professor of European Law at the University of Groningen and former official of the European Commission, Laurence Gormley, says that with “difficult” talks on fisheries and regulatory issues, the limited time of the transition period is “nowhere near long enough” to conclude talks both on trade and the future relationship.

“[The progress of the talks] depends on the UK really. So far, they have been enormously dilettante in making known what they would like,” Mr. Gormley explained.
With an 11-month timetable to finalise an agreement on both trade and non-trade elements such as security cooperation and fisheries, both the EU and UK have signified they want to start talks as swiftly as possible.

One of the main promises from the leave camp during the 2016 referendum was to ‘take back control’ of UK fishing waters. However, with EU vessels catching 35% of their fish from UK waters, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently suggested trading EU access to UK fishing waters for British financial service’s access to European markets.

On what he made of the Taoiseach’s comments stating that the EU had a “stronger team” in the negotiations, Mr. Gormley says: “The EU is infinitely better prepared, both in terms of experience and in terms of objectives.”

The EU’s first priority will be for the European Commission to produce a draft negotiating mandate in early February, setting out its goals for a free trade agreement. After consulting with the governments of the EU27 and gaining their approval, the commission will look to be ready by March.

Regarding the UK government’s readiness, Associate Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, Stephen Woolcock, told EN4 news that Boris Johnson’s negotiating mandate is “likely to be not very clearly defined.”

Speaking about the pathway forward to talks, Mr. Woolcock said: “Officials might start fairly soon to scope an agreement, but the British government needs to have some kind of mandate from Parliament. There remains a question about the scrutiny that the House of Commons and the Devolved Authorities would have over the negotiations and there is still no Trade Bill that would define this.”

Once the talks begin in earnest, the EU is likely to prioritise safeguarding the stability of the Single Market and what European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen stressed as a continuation of the level playing field.

“The EU will want to ensure that the EU regulatory standards are not undercut by UK suppliers benefiting from lower costs due to changes in UK regulations,” Mr. Woolcock explained.

“The UK can do what it wants [on following EU regulations] but the trade off is less guaranteed access to the EU.”

With the clock ready to start ticking and Boris Johnson categorically ruling out an extension to the transition period, it is still unclear what our relationship with Europe will look like by the end of the year.

Jeremy Corbyn lauches Labour General Election Plan

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn released his General Election campaign in Battersea this afternoon.

Corbyn has made some key promises to try and win over voters. EN4 News has listed his key campaign points:

  • Brexit will be done in six months

Corbyn has said six months into winning an election he will have the Brexit negotiations sorted with a people’s vote so the UK can “leave with a sensible deal or remain”. Which Corbyn says is not a complicated issue. Corbyn wants to deliver “real change” that he said Britain needs.

  • NHS is “not for sale”

Corbyn claims that Johnson has a “sell out” deal for the NHS that will copy an American corporation style health system, with big drug companies being in control of the healthcare and drug manufacturing. Corbyn said that the NHS is “not for sale” to Trump or to anyone else.

  • Public Ownership

Corbyn said he would put rail, mail and water in public ownership, taking it away from “Tory donors and shareholders in tax havens.”

Corbyn reiterated promises that he already made a few weeks ago when launched his campaign, promising a £10 an hour minimum wage for over 16s and free childcare for those with children aged 2-4 years.

Corbyn made jabs at his Tory counterpart, Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that they are going to “fight dirtier” during this general election.  Corbyn said that he going to take on the people the Conservative Party likes to protect by going after “tax dodgers”, “dodgy landlords” and “big polluters”.

The Labour leader finished his speech by saying its “time for a change,” leaving people wondering what Labour’s next point of action will be.

 

 

ORDER! A look back at John Bercow’s career as he chairs his last parliamentary session.

After an impressive ten years on the job, it’s finally come time for House of Commons Speaker John Bercow to stand down, and it’s without doubt that his extreme volume and wit-filled turn of phrase will be a noticeable absence from the chamber.  Bercow will also resign from his position as MP for Buckingham, a seat that he has held for nearly 22 years.

Bercow in his throne. Photo: UK Parliament

Over his decade-long career, bold speaker Bercow has brought around substantial change within the chamber, despite a lasting ominous grey cloud of bullying and misconduct allegations against him hanging over the latter half of his term, as well as a number of expenses abuse claims.

Over his career, Bercow has been a force to be reckoned with in the chamber, often dishing out wonderfully phrased put-downs to unruly MPs in an effort to maintain his signature “ORDEERRR” in the house.  A New York Times reporter quoted him as saying “When the decibel level exceeds anything that Deep Purple would have even dreamed of in their heyday in the 1970s as the loudest band in the world, that is a negative” in reference to his constant efforts to keep often petulant parliamentary representatives under control.  After an analysis by the BBC, it was identified that he used his exclamatory catchphrase ‘Order’ over 14,000 times over his career as Speaker.

While Bercow’s career will be remembered for bringing parliamentary traditions into the 21st century (by slackening dress codes and doing away with wigs for Commons Clerks, as well as turning a popular bar in the Westminster house into a crèche for MP’s children), he has been subject to much debate regarding his conduct outside of the chamber, and to his overall impartiality that is required as Speaker.  Bercow has undergone several investigations into bullying and misconduct accusations, and has been described as “overly aggressive” and prone to “over-the-top anger” on occasions.  While he was criticised and has been spoken against, he has never formally been reprimanded for the claims.

Before his time as House Speaker, Bercow served the Conservative party as MP for Buckingham, as well as assuming several high profile positions in their Opposition from 2001 – 2004.  During his academic life and career in the Conservative party, he was known to hold fairly hard-right views, in-line with the views of the party at the time.  During his time as Speaker, however, his views have often been called into debate, and has been accused of impartiality over his actions in the chamber in regard to Brexit motions tabled by Boris Johnson, with some of his rulings allowing those opposed to Brexit to implement pieces of legislation and checks to block Johnson’s plans.  He’s also been accused of abandoning his neutrality in regard to comments on President Trump, saying he would be “strongly opposed” to his addressing of the Houses of Parliament during his state visit.

Bercow did however meet Obama in the Commons. Photo: UK Parliament

While his decade-long career has been marred with certain clouds and stains over its time, Bercow will be most remembered for his moves to modernise parliament, and his often spectacular rhetoric and crushing putdowns in the chamber.  After his last day on the job this afternoon, he is expected to get home, put the kettle on, and have a cuppa with his wife, Sally, as well as the family cat, named Order.  Yes, really.

It’s October 31st, Why are We Still in The EU?

 

October 31st was supposed to be the day we exited the EU but with our official departure being delayed until January 31st and a snap general election on the horizon, feeling confused is an understatement.

Here’s a run-through on everything you need to know about our late withdrawal and our impending election:

 

With a general election set for December 12th, you may be wondering who you should vote for. The election intends to be quite Brexit heavy so here are the main parties stances on the matter.

To register to vote follow this link.

Will there be an election soon?

The prime minister has said he will seek a snap general election if the EU decides to delay Brexit until January.

On Tuesday, MPs backed the prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill but rejected his plans to fast-track the legislation.

That defeat effectively ended any realistic prospect of the UK leaving the EU with a deal by the government’s 31 October deadline.

As a result, Johnson has demanded MPs who voted down his Brexit bill last night now back a general election to break the deadlock.

Will there be an election soon?

Not necessarily.

  1. As even if the PM does decide to press for an early election there is no guarantee he will succeed. There are three ways Johnson can call an election.
  2. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the prime minister needs to have the backing of two-thirds of MPs to hold a snap poll. This is quite unlikely to pass as Labour would rather wait and see if Brexit can be sorted first.
  3. He could introduce a one-line Bill which could pass as you only need a majority in each vote. But this would allow changes to be added. For example, giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote.

The final way would be for the Conservatives to vote for a no-confidence motion in their own government – it would be hard for Labour to vote that they have confidence in the government. If it passes, the Commons have 14 days for another ‘unity’ government to be formed therefore the PM would be risking his own position in Downing Street.

Boris Johnson will hold a political cabinet at 3PM today where he and his senior ministers are expected to discuss the positives and negatives of holding a snap poll.

Updates to follow.

Brexit Weekly Briefing

It could be one of the biggest weeks in UK politics in decades.

Here’s a rundown on all that’s gone on these past few days.

Prefer a podcast? Listen below.

 

 

Corbyn outlines Labour’s election plans on Brexit, education and the environment

 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has set out his party’s election plans, including promises on sorting out Brexit, scrapping tuition fees and making the environment the forefront of Britain’s future.

Speaking in Northampton on Thursday, Corbyn started his speech by calling out Prime Minister Boris Johnson, claiming that having a Queen’s Speech with a general election looming was a “cynical stunt” by having Her Majesty deliver a “pre-election party political broadcast” for the Conservative Party.

Under a Labour government, Corbyn’s top priority would be to “get Brexit sorted.” Corbyn said it was time to stop letting the politicians make the decisions and let the people have a say in what happens.

Within three months of being elected, Corbyn said Labour would have a sensible deal with the EU that includes a new customs union, a close single market relationship and “guarantees of rights and protections,” that also “respects the Good Friday Agreement.”

A plan to stay within the EU is also on the table.

After six months under a Labour government there would a vote so the people can choose whether to take the deal or remain in the EU. Corbyn says that the Labour Party “trusts the people to decide” what is best for Brexit. He claims that a no deal is a “race to the bottom in our rights and protection” to get a deal with US President Donald Trump.

Corbyn also promised to scrap University tuition fees with plans to have a National Education Service that provides free education for “everyone throughout life”. The Labour Leader passed comment about the previous Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government saying that they “saddled a generation of young people with a lifelong debt burden.”

Corbyn also has detailed environmental plans for a Labour government. Starting with promising better public transport as the “public transport network is falling apart just when the climate emergency means we need it most.” Corbyn said “radical action is needed” to keep the global temperature at manageable level and claimed that the Conservative government’s plans for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 is “too late.”

The Labour Party is “is fully signed up to a Green New Deal”, Corbyn said, and they are already working closely with trade unions and the scientific community to develop “radical climate targets in the world”.

Corbyn added that working to reduce the emissions for the “Green Industrial Revolution” would create “hundreds of thousands good, skilled jobs across Britain.”

There is no sign of a general election date being set at the moment but Labour has already started putting in the groundwork for it.

 

Key Labour Promises for the General Election:

 

  1. Raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour for everyone over 16
  2. To build 1,000,000, genuine affordable home in 10 years
  3. Reduce full time hours to 32 hours a week in 10 years
  4. Free childcare 2-4 year olds
  5. Free bus travel for under 25s

 

Interview With La Monde Journalist Eric Albert

 

PM Boris Johnson addresses Parliament on new Brexit Plan; Ireland, Europe respond

By Elise Kennedy

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has addressed Parliament on his new Brexit plan focusing on his plan for the Irish backstop.

If the UK is to leave the EU without a deal Johnson says that all parties would be responsible for a no deal. 

Johnson said that staying in the current Brexit extension period after 31 October would be leaving the UK in a “prison of existing positions”, which he said he wants to get out of.

Repeating the Conservative party conference  mantra of “Get Brexit Done” was a strong feature of his address, which was a large part of the conference from earlier this week.

His plans to change former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Irish backstop plan with a “potential regularity zone” which would mean having no custom checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson said that is should be voted on in the Northern Irish Assembly after the UK leaves the negotiation period. This is in hopes to sustain the Good Friday Agreement.

The Prime Minister said that he wants to move attention to more domestic issues including the NHS and education.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party  said that the deal is “reckless” and its not “credible”. Saying that it attacks the “rights and standards” of all UK citizens, adding that the Prime Minister is trying to “shift the blame” to the whole of Parliament for not reaching a deal.

Saying that the plan to scrap the Irish Backstop, that Theresa May had in her original Withdrawl Agreement,  would negatively impact Northern Ireland’s small businesses and therefore the economy in Northern Ireland. Corbyn stressed that Northern Irish businesses needs are protected, in the new deal.

Corbyn argues that by extending the negotiation deadline would allow  time for “serious negotiations” and if we leave on 31 October with a no deal would damage UK living standards.

Johnson argued that staying in the negotiation stage is not an option as stating in this phase would “incur another billion pounds to stay after 31 October”.

Johnson ended his rebuttal to Corbyn by saying that it is a “good basis for a deal”.

The response from Northern Ireland

The Prime Minister of Nothern Ireland, Leo Varadkar, says Johnson’s Brexit plan “falls short in some aspects.”

Speaking at press conference in Sweden with the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofvan, Varadkar insists there should no custom check points, and he is “reassured” that Boris Johnson said there would not be any, contradicting what was said in a proposal from the UK government yesterday.

The Northern Irish Prime Minister clarified his aims when it comes to Brexit: “Our objective is very clear we do not want to see any custom posts between north and south” which were all abolished in the 1999 Good Friday Agreement, and he wishes that it stays that way.

The Swedish Prime Minister also said at the conference that “Sweden stands with Northern Ireland,” when it comes to the issues regarding Brexit.

The response from Europe

The European Parliament has said that Johnson’s Brexit proposals are not “even remotely” acceptable, when it comes to the Irish border issue.

In a press release, the members of the Brexit Steering Group say that the latest proposals “do not address the real issues that need to be resolved, namely the all – island economy, the full respect of the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of the Single Market.”

This falls in line with what Varadkar and Northern Ireland’s response.

The European Parliament added that they are still open to explore all options as long as they are “credible, legally operable, and in practise have the same effect as the compromises found in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Donald Tusk, President for the of the European Council, has said that he “unconvinced” with Johnson’s plans and he fully supports Ireland.

While the Irish Europe Minister, Helen McEntee, while speaking at Dublin Port said that Ireland does not feel under pressure to change their key objectives which includes “protecting the Good Friday Agreement, to prevent border infrastructure on the island of Ireland, protecting the economy and the single market, and Ireland’s place in it.”

 

May’s Brexit speech – as it happened

May delivers Brexit speech in Grimsby, a town in which the majority voted leave.

May begins by stating that Brexit “belongs to the whole country.”

The PM states that the Brexit deal will allow us to “build stronger communities” and will mean growth is not focussed in London and the South-East.

May then goes on to talk about foreign affairs and “taking back control”. She insists Brexit would not be a “race to the bottom” in terms of workers right and that Britain after Brexit will still be able to safeguard them.

May then goes on to note how well her government are managing the economy, stating: “the employment rate is at a record high, unemployment rate is at a 40-year low, borrowing this year is at a 17 year low and debt is falling.”

She says that businesses would begin to invest and money spent on a no-deal exit could be put to better use. There would be a giant “open for business sign” in Britain.

May talks about the failure to get her deal through parliament back in January and claims Corbyn “opposed it because he wanted a general election,” meanwhile other MPs opposed it because they didn’t want Brexit to happen altogether.

Speaking to the EU, May says “now is the time for us to act” and calls for “one more push” to get Brexit over the line.

She says that MPs also need to think hard about rejecting the deal and that more talking isn’t going to solve anything. She continued, saying that the EU might start imposing conditions which could result in a form of Brexit that looks different to what people voted for. A second referendum would “take Britain back to square one”, she claims.

May is ramping up the pressure, saying ‘Let’s get it done’.

She needs the support of those who voted remain but accept the result – and those who voted Leave but accept some compromise is necessary.

The Prime Minister now takes questions from journalists.

When asked how much responsibility she takes for the uncertainty, May says she negotiated a deal and MPs were the ones who rejected it. Now is the moment to get this done, she says.

Workers rights and the energy deal will be good for Grimsby (where she is holding the speech), she adds.

She then takes her leave.

 

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