Rule Breaking Britannia!

Despite the UK Brexiting back in January, we are still going through our transition phase in which complicated matters such as Free Trade Agreements, immigration and customs arrangements need to be cleared up. 

And even though Britain has recently managed to secure a free trade agreement with Japan, Boris Johnson and his Government are still facing a great deal of criticism from MP’s, the commentariat and even former Prime Ministers over the introduction of the Internal Markets Bill.

What is the Internal Markets Bill? 

It’s essentially a bill being proposed to the House of Commons which seeks to update the laws currently governing the UK internal market. In essence, creating new principles to go alongside existing ones. 

The reason for proposing this bill is so that after the Brexit transition period ends, the UK will have managed to set up internal arrangements for trading between the four UK nations. 

What is the problem with this current bill? 

The British Government has stated the bill is being used as a measure to preserve the UK’s territorial integrity. However, the EU slammed the bill, saying that it broke international law. 

When addressing the matter in the Commons, Brandon Lewis (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) said the bill would break international law in a specific and limited way. 

And he’s right! It will do so by overriding section four of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. 

According to the Institute for Government: “The bill would give ministers powers to make regulations about state aid and customs procedures for trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and would allow ministers to make regulations inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.”

This, unfortunately, breaches Article 4 of the withdrawal agreement, which says the UK must use primary legislation (main laws passed by the legislative bodies of the UK, including the UK Parliament.) to give full effect to the Withdrawal Agreement in domestic law. 

But it is worth noting the UK would only be in breach of these laws if such powers were actually used. 

Will the Internal Market Bill Pass?

Last night MP’s backed the Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263. So, yes, the bill has passed, but only its first hurdle. And even though Boris Johnson’s backbenchers didn’t let him down, he still isn’t without his critics. Former PM’s and several Tory MPs have warned that by breaking international law, it damages the UK’s stance on the world stage. 

Former Prime Minister, Theresa May posed a question to the Government about the matter saying: “The Government is now changing the operation of that agreement. Given that, how can the Government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?” 

Unsurprisingly, Mrs May has the same concern as everyone else. If the Government are choosing to break ‘international law’ and going back on what they agreed with the EU, only a few months ago, then how can they be trusted with signing agreements further down the line? 

Point Of View

With Boris Johnson’s hefty majority in the House, it was unlikely the bill would be stopped in its tracks. However, it will face more scrutiny from MP’s in the Commons today, and in terms of getting through the Lords, well there is nothing to say they couldn’t stop it from being passed. 

I wasn’t all that surprised when I first heard Brandon Lewis say the Government would be “breaking international law”. I suppose if you look at this governments track record, breaking international law is undoubtedly something the rebellious Dominic Cummings is looking to tick off his bucket list. 

In terms of what it does to Britain’s reputation on the global stage, well, I’ve always been of the firm belief that we must stand on principle; otherwise, what do we stand for? Are we to become a nation that says one thing and does another? 

Countries from all over the world look at a nation like Britain as a leader in diplomacy. Now that we are on the verge of breaking international law, how are we then supposed to stand up to countries like Russia and China when they breach the rules? 

Britain is about to transition onto the global stage. It should be an opportunity for us as a nation to stand tall and forge new relationships, however unless the UK can present itself as an honorable ally then how do you expect people to trust us?

Honesty is the best policy for the BBC

Twitter is a minefield for BBC beration. When ‘Defund the BBC’ launched their campaign in mid-summer, it took them less than a week to reach around 30K followers and it now has around 95K supporters. So with such a growing appetite for a reformed BBC, we have to ask ourselves what is it culturally that the BBC seems to let us down on?

In terms of their political coverage, I feel as though the corporation could do more to push some of their political shows to feature more commentary from regional journalists, activists and even regular folk from beyond the Westminster Bubble.

I can’t see anyone being delighted with the current incumbents of the Beeb’s political team. Everyone has had their criticism of Andrew Neil, Nick Robinson, Andrew Marr, Emily Maitlis and Lewis Goodall. They don’t always get it right, and in this day and age of every man and his dog wanting to make passing remarks, there is a sense that you simply cannot please everyone. That being said, maybe it’s not necessarily the political team which needs shaking up.

Honesty is a big issue. In particular, the transparency surrounding the sort of guests the BBC has been inviting onto programmes to make comments. For example, there have been multiple occasions where a doctor or teacher has appeared on Newsnight, and the BBC has failed to report that they are Labour activists. It doesn’t take much to be able to present the facts or even seek out a non-politically charged teacher or doctor. All this shows is a lack of research from BBC producers and just downright laziness.

Nor is it merely in the realms of current affairs where the BBC is continuing to c*ck up. But now, they have started removing and censoring comedy shows that contain material which may offend audiences. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you think Little Britain is culturally insensitive, but what I would say is listen to what stars like Idris Elba are saying.

Idris Elba has criticised the public service broadcaster for censoring programmes following Black Lives Matter campaigning. He believes that even outdated attitudes to race found in older TV shows should be aired and understood. If we start airbrushing these shows from iPlayer, then we are technically attempting to censor history.

There are a lot of future generations of scriptwriters, stand-ups and producers who can learn from the mistakes of the past. It is important to highlight these matters, but if we can’t come to be at ease with them, then how do we move forward?

The recent news that was on every radio phone-in show was the BBC’s decision to ban the lyrics of ‘Rule, Britannia!’ from being sung at the Last Night of the Proms. A decision which, I should say, they’ve now U-turned on. Now, I’m going to be honest. I can’t stand that hymn, so to be quite frank, they’d have been doing me a favour if they hadn’t done so.

No matter what connotations these lyrics may have to our colonial past, we should be considering their intentions and the manner in which they are being sung above anything else. I don’t for one minute believe that any sane-minded individual singing ‘Rule, Britannia!’ or ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is really interested in re-enslaving former colonies or wanting to hark back to the times in which those anthems were written.

Put it this way, if Stormzy is allowed to chant “F*ck Boris” live on the BBC, at Glastonbury, then a bunch of poshos in the Albert Hall should be allowed to have their little sing-song as well.

Does Keir Starmer deserve his lead???

Recent polling has suggested the public mood is slowly shifting from people wanting the divisive and tribal Tories, to opting for a less bolshy administration.

According to a survey by YouGov for The Times, the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, would do a better job than Boris Johnson of running the country. Thirty-four percent of those polled said Sir Keir would be the best Prime Minister, compared to 32 percent backing Mr Johnson.

Sir Keir has already impressed critics by showing how tough he can be with members of his own party over issues like anti-Semitism. This was something Rebecca Long-Bailey was on the receiving end of, after she got sacked from her role as Shadow Education Secretary for sharing an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Unite’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey, was very vocal about this decision, calling on the Labour leader not to shut out and neglect the ‘left’ in the party. He’s also made countless threats to Sir Keir by threatening to defund Labour, saying the leader should not take Unite’s Labour funding for granted.

Yet, after four election losses on the Trot, Sir Keir knows that when it comes to the next election, Labour will need to slowly rid their party of any anti-Semites and corrosive Momentum members. They, for the last few years, have turned their party into an unelectable mess and a laughing stock.

But all this newfound support from the electorate isn’t because of the Labour leader’s strength against the far-left in his party. In fact, it’s got nothing to do with Starmer’s leadership at all. The truth is, he hasn’t actually done anything. The only reason Sir Keir has experienced such a surge is that Johnson’s grading gaffe has made him so unpopular.

At this point in time, the only way Labour could possibly win the next election will not be down to Starmer’s stellar leadership or any ground-breaking policy initiatives, but because the Tories have been making far too many mistakes.

London needs a Liberal like Rory Stewart

London has been, for a while now, crying out for a centrist voice. An individual who doesn’t give in to the partisan, tribal politics that we see today, but instead seeks to unite the political divide and adopt a new type and style of administration that would be needed to mend the societal cracks.

When Rory Stewart announced his candidacy, I, like many, was sceptical about this idea. This is a man who has spent a great deal of his life gallivanting around the Middle East, trekking across Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although he ventured back into domestic politics, he was still located up in Cumbria, which hardly made him an individual who could comprehend the struggles of a 21st-century Londoner.

But then again, this is precisely what we forget about Mr Stewart. He’s not your typical career politician. He doesn’t seek high office for the sake of his own profile or image. He knew that if he were to have any chance of not just winning the Mayoral election, but gaining the trust and respect of Londoners, then he would have to immerse himself in the city. Understanding that London is about more than just Oxford Street and Westminster, and that within the beating heart of this nation lies a whole myriad of communities.

From the elites in Kensington and Chelsea to the proletariats and hard grafters of Millwall, Rory Stewart made it his goal to converse with people in every borough, in nearly every nook and cranny of the streets of London.

Rory Walks… Come Kip with Me… These were all well-thought-through campaign ideas. It may have seemed natural to take the piss when you saw it all unravelling on Twitter, but bear in mind that neither Sadiq Khan nor Shaun Bailey has ever seemed interested in going to the lengths that Rory did when it comes to getting to know Londoners.

The polls showed that Rory was pottering around in third place, behind Bailey and Khan. This was a point that Sadiq Khan would often raise during interviews, suggesting that the race to be Mayor of London was merely a two-horse affair between himself and the Tory candidate.

He dismissed Rory because he knew of the threat he posed. Unlike Shaun Bailey, Rory was starting to appeal not just to the liberal Conservatives in London, but also the middle-class Labour clique, who had previously backed Sadiq, as well as to the Lib Dem vote and even some of the Green Party support.

Rory, like his fellow candidates, had been expecting to stand in the Mayoral Election in March of this year. However, due to COVID-19 making it impossible for us even to go outside and breathe, that didn’t happen. Londoners soon found out that they were being postponed until 2021, which would mean another year of campaigning. However, it was this further year of campaigning that Rory could not afford, which was why, on May 6th, he sent an e-mail to his staff informing them that he was pulling out of the race.

A couple of months later, the Liberal Democrat candidate would have to do the same, meaning that at this point in time there is no centrist/liberal figure running for Mayor of London.

London, one of the most diverse, inclusive, beautiful and liberal cities in the world, is lacking a liberal leadership candidate. It just doesn’t seem right.