Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

No-deal Brexit could mean £130m hit to research budgets

Universities say vital projects are ‘days from stalling’ as EU grants could be lost

Universities have raised the alarm about the potential loss of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of EU grants from the UK in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

They warned that life-changing research “could be days away from stalling” and urged the government to set up contingency plans to protect UK access to research funding.

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How putting A-level results in context can improve access to the UK’s best universities

Carl Cullinane and Laura Bruce explain how and why universities should step up the use of contextual admissions in order to meaningfully achieve fair access to leading higher education institutions.

The problem of unequal access to university is one of the most high-profile issues in British education. It is also a stubborn one. Despite substantial media attention and investment in outreach programmes, the gap in access between young people from less well-off home, and their more advantaged counterparts is wide. It is particularly acute at the most prestigious universities, where the most advantaged fifth of 18 years olds are 15 times more likely to attend than the least advantaged fifth.

Figure 1. Participation rates at high tariff universities by level of advantage (Multiple Equality Measure), England.

Source: UCAS.

However, while much of the media focus is frequently on the problem, it is less on concrete solutions. The University of Cambridge have recently responded to increasing pressure by reserving 100 ‘second chance’ places for disadvantaged applicants who just missed out. But if we really want to move the dial on access, we need more holistic and systematic solutions.

It is well established that applicants to university do not arrive at the point of application on an equal footing. Many have faced substantial social barriers and obstacles throughout their life – from their home background, to the school they attended, to the neighbourhood they grew up in. There are many ways in which these circumstances can affect the chances of going to university, but one of the most significant is through their impact on achievement at school.

The UK’s university admissions process is built on the school examination system. But school achievement is inevitably shaped by obstacles faced both inside and outside the school gates. This means that the true potential of a young person is frequently not reflected in their A-level results. We know that the university you attend impacts on your future earning potential, and so university admissions are a key lever for increasing social mobility. While universities cannot be expected to compensate for the effects of 18 years of inequality, they can adjust their admissions processes to take into account the context in which A-level results are achieved. This process is referred to as contextual (or contextualised) admissions. For those applying to university from a disadvantaged home background, or who grew up in a deprived area or school, their grades can be taken in context by receiving a reduced grade offer, at a grade or two below the standard for their course, or by getting a ‘second look’ if they just miss out on a place.

Contextual admissions is a growing practice among universities, but as yet, we haven’t seen a step-change in the access gaps. There are three particular issues we think are preventing contextual admissions from delivering on fairer university access: the quality of contextual indicators, transparency and consistency in offers, and greater ambition in grade reductions.


Transparency and consistency are key, because if young people aren’t made fully aware of where and how they may benefit from a contextual offer, they may never apply, thinking a course or university is out of their reach. Universities in Scotland have made significant progress on the transparency front, with many offering contextual lookup tools which allow the applicant to check whether they would be entitled to a contextual offer, and at what level that offer may be. In England, UCL’s Access scheme is a recent example of more consistent and transparent communication of contextualisation to young people. Transparency is also important for making sure the process is clear and fair for all applicants.

Contextual indicators

Improving the quality of indicators and flags used in contextualisation is also important. Research conducted for Sutton Trust has shown that many indicators used by universities to flag widening participation candidates are based on the school or locality of a candidate. While these provide important context, they can often be misleading as to the individual circumstances of the applicant. There should be greater use of individual-level measures in contextualisation, such as eligibility for Free School Meals. The Department for Education, who holds this data, should look at providing this in a secure way, with the applicant’s consent, directly to universities through the UCAS application platform.

This research also showed that universities are using participation in outreach programmes in different ways for contextual offers. While some universities use participation in any outreach programme as a qualifying indicator for a contextual offer, many only accept participation in their own programme, and some don’t take it into account at all. This unnecessarily limits the options of outreach participants. While there is a question of assuring quality of provision across institutions, there are already great examples across the sector where universities collaborate on contextual offers for outreach participants, including the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme and Realising Opportunities.

University league tables and reduced grade offers

There has been slow progress in the ambition and extent of contextual offers. While many of those concerned with widening participation agree that greater use of contextual admissions is the way forward, there remain structural barriers to progress. One of those is the university league table industry. All the main university rankings include the A-level results of students on entry. This is counter-intuitive and results in profoundly negative incentives to universities. School league tables in recent years have a deliberate move to focus on the progress made on the progress made during a pupil’s time in a school, and not merely reward schools for taking in high-attaining kids in the first place.

The potential negative impact on a university’s ranking of admitting some students on lower grades acts as a strong brake on more ambitious contextual admissions. Use of A-level results of students before they have even entered university is a deeply flawed measure of quality, and this needs to change. Unlike school league tables, university rankings are produced by private organisations, rather than government, but this does not make them any less in need of reform.

The Office for Students’ commitment to contextual admissions and ambitious targets for the university sector are welcome. But as we see strides being made in the corporate sector, with the development of tools such as Rare’s contextual recruitment system and organisations such as Hogan Lovells and Linklaters investing in contextual recruitment, it is time to step up the use of contextual admissions to meaningfully move the dial on fair access to our country’s leading higher education institutions.


About the Authors

Carl Cullinane is Acting Head of Research and Policy, Sutton Trust.




Laura Bruce is Head of Programmes and Partnerships, Sutton Trust.




All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Pixabay (Public Domain).

Visa extension to boost numbers of overseas students in UK after Brexit

New measures will allow international students to seek employment for up to a year

International students will be given visa extensions of up to a year to look for work in the UK as part of a package of government measures to boost numbers of overseas students after Brexit.

The move represents a break with current policy, where students are allowed to stay for just four months after graduation.

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Non-Brexit news review – Friday March 15

Non-Brexit news review – Friday March 15

There is so much news about today I have split my reports into two.  See here for Brexit news.  See here for your Daily Brexit Betrayal by Viv Evans.

New Zealand shooting

TWO gunmen have opened fire at two New Zealand mosques today killing 40 people and injuring 20 others including kids in a sickening terror attack. Shooters executed Muslim worshippers in Christchurch during Friday prayers – with one live-streaming the slaughter on Facebook in a 17-minute video. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the mosque massacres a “terrorist attack” and said it was one of the country’s “darkest days”. The shooting was the result of two gunmen, the PM added. Three men and one woman are in custody following the shootings at Masjid Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid Mosque in Christchurch at around 1.40pm local time. One of those arrested was wearing a suicide vest, cops confirmed as they warned “let’s not presume the danger has gone”.

ITV News
At least 49 people have been killed, and at least 20 others seriously injured, in mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. Police have arrested four people in connection with the terror attack and have charged a man with murder. Officials refused to confirm the identity of the man who will appear in court on Saturday morning. Police defused explosive devices in what appeared to be a carefully planned incident. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” as she confirmed the number of dead and injured.


Morning Star
RESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tyrannical regime in Turkey was handed €1.5 billion (£1.2bn) from the EU today as the undemocratic body was accused of having “the blood of Kurds on its hands.” EU policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the release of the bumper payout in Brussels today during the neoliberal economic bloc’s “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” Third Annual Conference. Speaking at a press conference in the Belgian capital, she said: “I would like to confirm the European Union contribution of €1.5bn to the second tranche of the facility for refugees in Turkey.”

The European Parliament has failed to endorse opening trade talks between the EU and the United States amid fears over Donald Trump‘s trade and environmental  policies. MEPs voted down a resolution on the talks by 223 votes to 198 in a session in Strasbourg on Thursday. The motion had been successfully amended by MEPs critical of the European Commission’s proposed approach to talks. As a result, the final resolution was rejected, after supporters of the Commission’s approach declined to vote for it.

Spring statement

A new £3bn scheme will fund the building of 30,000 affordable homes, the chancellor has said, as he proclaimed that the government was on track to reach its target of 300,000 new homes a year in Britain. Philip Hammond’s spring statement also contained a patchwork of separate schemes to boost housebuilding, including £717m to “unlock up to 37,000 homes” in the Oxford-Cambridge arc, Cheshire and west London. “The government is determined to fix the broken housing market,” said Hammond. “Building more homes in the right places is critical to unlocking productivity growth and makes housing more affordable.”

Favourable public finances have given Philip Hammond enough leeway to spend £15bn in this summer’s spending review to show austerity is “coming to an end”, a think tank has said. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the chancellor has room to find “a reasonable amount of extra cash” for the period 2020-23. Delivering the IFS’s verdict on Wednesday’s Spring Statement, director Paul Johnson said public finance figures had “surprised on the upside”, with borrowing at its lowest level since 2001-02.

Philip Hammond promised a £26billion “Brexit dividend” yesterday if MPs finally approve an EU withdrawal deal. The Chancellor said a spending spree on public services could be forthcoming once the “cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy” is lifted. Mr Hammond made the suggestion during a spring statement designed to build support for Government efforts to break the Brexit deadlock. He said that a no-deal departure could have wiped out the expected windfall and risked a return to austerity. The statement was given amid parliamentary chaos following the rejection of Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement by MPs on Tuesday.

Knife crime

The number of criminals caught with knives or other potentially deadly weapons reached its highest level for almost a decade last year, it was revealed yesterday. There were 21,484 such offences that came before the courts – but more than six out of ten of those arrested and dealt with by the law were allowed to go free without serving jail terms. A record share of the weapons cases were those involving individuals who either carried or brandished knives, as opposed to improvised weapons such as bottles and knuckle dusters, according to Ministry of Justice figures.


A&E waiting times have hit a new all-time low as the NHS posted its worst ever figures for the second month in a row. February was the ‘toughest month to date’ for the ‘overwhelmed’ health service, NHS bodies admitted today as figures show the dire state of waiting times in England. Only 84.2 per cent of A&E patients were seen within the NHS’s four-hour waiting limit in February – a further drop from the lowest ever 84.4 per cent in January. The falling figure comes in the same week as the health service announced plans it could use to replace the four-hour benchmark it has failed to meet since 2015. Other ‘shameful’ statistics show waits for cancer treatment are longer than ever, with record numbers of people waiting more than a month to start therapy. And the NHS missed its target to treat people within two months of a doctor’s referral for the 37th month in a row.

Almost a quarter of cancer patients face delays to starting their treatment as NHS figures show the longest waits since records began a decade ago. The health service has missed its main cancer target for more than a thousand days. The latest data also shows lengthening waits for emergency and routine care, days after NHS chiefs announced plans to scrap the targets that measure them. In January 76.2 per cent of cancer patients started treatment within two months of a GP referral. The 85 per cent target has not been hit since December 2015.

CANCER patients are facing record NHS delays – with one in four now waiting too long for life-saving care. Experts warn overwhelmed hospitals are in “crisis” as A&E delays also hit an all-time high. Official stats reveal the NHS has missed a flagship cancer treatment target for more than 1,000 days. More than 85 per cent of patients should start receiving therapy within 62 days of being referred by their GP. But in January just 76.2 per cent were seen on time – the worst performance since records began in 2009. The last time the standard was met was in December 2015. Cancer charities said 127,000 Brits had been being put at risk by the delays. Dr Fran Woodard, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Behind the numbers are real people who tell us how delays cause real anxiety for them and their loved ones at a time when they are already trying to deal with the many worries cancer is throwing their way.”

Computer hacking

BRITAIN’S £1.3billion cyber security programme might fail to meet its aims, financial watchdogs warned yesterday. They identified shortcomings in deciding how much money the five-year Government initiative needed before its launch in 2016. This has led to concern about how computer attacks will be tackled after 2021, partly because proper funding has not been assessed, said the National Audit Office. It added: “The Cabinet Office did not produce a business case for the programme first.” The NAO said the project has had successes such as establishing the National Cyber Security Centre and “reducing the UK’s vulnerability”. But NAO chief Sir Amyas Morse said it was not certain the Government’s approach to better cyber security “will represent value for money” or be properly funded after 2021.  Tory MP mocked on Twitter for calling on knives to be fitted with GPS trackers.

A secondary school is being held to ransom after a cyber attack caused students to lose GCSE coursework, with hackers demanding money to return the work. It is believed that a member of staff at the Sir John Colfox Academy in Bridport, Dorset, mistakenly opened an email, which contained a virus. Malicious software, known as ransomware, was released onto the school’s computer network and used to encrypt files – making them unavailable for the school to access. The cyber attack on February 28 caused the loss of Year 11 students’ GCSE coursework in product design and food preparation and nutrition. The email was sent from China and forwarded from a server in Germany and hackers are asking for money to return the data.


Emergency services found 18 illegal migrants in the back of a lorry following a random stop on a Kent motorway. The German truck was pulled over on Wednesday night and Kent police confirmed 18 Eritrean people were in the back of the lorry. The group, which consisted of 11 men, six women and a child, were assessed by paramedics on the side of the road before being taken away in minibuses and ambulances.

Authorities in a district of rural Germany covered up a long list of asylum seeker crimes including rape, assault, and child sex abuse so as not to “stir up prejudice”, it has been alleged. Internal police figures revealed 117 criminal offences took place at refugee housing in Boostedt, northern Germany, during the last three months, and that third world migrants housed in other accommodation in the municipality were listed as suspects in a further 23 crimes. But officers neglected to announce the incidents after orders from the Interior Ministry instructed police that “active” notifications from the force’s press office on potential migrant involvement in crimes would be “irresponsible”, and likely to “stir up prejudice”, local media reports.

Child abuse

Two rogue police officers have been found guilty of sabotaging child abuse investigations. Detective constables Sharon Patterson, 49, and Lee Pollard, 47, forged documents, concealed evidence and lied about investigations out of laziness and ‘cynical disdain’ for victims, the Old Bailey heard. Patterson was even accused of ditching work to get a manicure and have a four-hour-long lunch at a Chinese restaurant with her married lover Pollard.

David Steel has been suspended from the Scottish Liberal Democrats over remarks he made to the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse about Cyril Smith.   On Wednesday the former Liberal leader told the inquiry that in 1979 he had confronted Smith over allegations of child sexual abuse, prompted by a story in Private Eye reporting he had been investigated but not charged. He said he came away from the conversation assuming the allegations were true but took no further action, as Smith was not a member of the party at the time. The peer denied he had been “hiding his head in the sand” over Cyril Smith’s alleged crimes.

Sky News
Former Liberal leader Lord David Steel has been suspended from the Lib Democrats following his evidence to an inquiry about child abuse allegations  against former MP Sir Cyril Smith. In a hearing on Wednesday, he denied “hiding his head in the sand” over child abuse allegations against Sir Cyril. The former MP for Rochdale, who died in 2010, has been accused of sexually abusing a number of young boys. Lord Steel said he asked the late politician in 1979 about claims he abused boys at a hostel in the town and found it dated back to Smith’s time as a Labour councillor in the 1960s. He told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that he came away from the conversation “assuming” Smith had committed the offences because he did not deny them.

LORD Steel has been suspended after he admitted he knew Cyril Smith was a paedophile but did nothing about it. The ex-Liberal leader, now 80, had said the MP had confirmed to him that claims he spanked young boys and fondled their testicles were true. But Lord Steel refused to take action because the offences happened before Smith was a member of the Liberals or an MP. He told an inquiry yesterday: “It had nothing to do with me.” Lib Dem sources told the Daily Mail that the peer will be suspended from the party today. Lord Steel had said he would act in the same way again, even though Smith would go on to abuse other victims. His remarks sparked a huge backlash and demands for his suspension. The party announced it had launched a probe into Lord Steel over his comments.

David Steel has been suspended from the Liberal Democrats after admitting he was aware that Cyril Smith was a child abuser but failed to assess whether he was a risk to children. Party officials decided on Thursday night that Lord Steel, the former leader of the Liberal party, should have the whip withdrawn and face a formal investigation. It follows an outcry over the peer’s testimony to an inquiry that in 1979 the late MP for Rochdale confirmed reports that he had assaulted children. Rather than launch an investigation into Smith, Steel said he allowed him to continue in office and waived through a recommendation for a knighthood.

Bloody Sunday shootings

British military veterans have slammed the double standards they say are being applied to the Troubles – which today saw a former paratrooper charged with murder while IRA terrorists go free. It was announced today that a former serviceman, named only as ‘Soldier F’, will stand trial for the murders of two men during the Bloody Sunday shooting in 1972 and the attempted murders of four others. The prosecution has sparked a political row, with Armed Forces groups saying soldiers who served their country are facing investigation while IRA members avoid action under so-called ‘comfort letters’.   Alan Barry, founder of Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans, said: ‘Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, veterans are being left open to prosecution while terrorists have been cleansed of their past crimes.’ At the same time as Soldier F’s prosecution was announced this morning, authorities revealed that two alleged Official IRA members would face no criminal action.

ITV News
One former British soldier – known only as soldier F – will be charged with the murder of civil rights demonstrators on Bloody Sunday. The single prosecution came to the dismay of the families of victims who had campaigned for more ex-paratroopers to face action over the deaths in 1972. The families later also called on the Attorney General to investigate whether Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has interfered in the judicial process. Speaking recently in a BBC interview, Mr Williamson said he was saddened that protection against “spurious prosecutions” would not be given to service personnel ahead of Thursday’s decision. John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed, said the Attorney General should decide if Mr Williamson or other politicians had broken the law.

FURY erupted after a lone veteran was charged with murder over two Bloody Sunday killings on Thursday – nearly 50 years after the tragedy. Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to prosecute the unnamed Para – known as Soldier F – for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney. He also faces charges for the attempted murder of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell, nearly 50 years ago in Londonderry. But 16 other elderly veterans probed by cops – plus two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA – will face no action due to “insufficient evidence”. The charges come despite the vents of Bloody Sunday being subject to a multi-million pound public inquiry. And scores of IRA suspects have escaped prosecution for terrorist atrocities after being given “comfort” letters making them immune from charges following the Northern ireland peace process.

BBC News
A former British soldier faces murder charges over the killing of two people on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972. The Public Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to prosecute Soldier F for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney. The sole prosecution is seen as a “terrible disappointment” by some of the families of the 13 people killed. They were shot dead at a civil rights march on 30 January 1972. The day became known as Bloody Sunday – one of the darkest days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Morning Star
BLOODY Sunday families vowed to continue their fight for justice today after the “disappointing” decision to prosecute just one British soldier for the murder of two unarmed civilians in Derry almost 50 years ago. They marched together from Derry’s Bogside memorial to the court in honour of the 14 people who were killed after soldiers from the Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights demonstration in 1972. There was a mixture of relief and disappointment as Northern Ireland’s  Public Prosecution Service announced that only one Paratrooper — Soldier F — was to be prosecuted for their role in the killings, which were described as “unjustified and unjustifiable” by Lord Saville in his 2010 report. He faces charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell. However the PPS ruled today there is insufficient evidence for a reasonable prospect of conviction for the remaining 16 soldiers, with some being deceased, leaving many families feeling that justice has not been fully served.

North Korea

North Korea is considering suspending nuclear talks with the United States and its leader may rethink a ban on missile tests, news reports from the North’s capital on Friday quoted a senior official as saying.  After the failure of last month’s summit of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un,the North’s top nuclear envoy said its leadership was considering dropping denuclearisation talks, Russia’s TASS news agency said. “We have no intention to yield to the US demands (at the Hanoi summit) in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind,” the agency quoted North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as saying.

The post Non-Brexit news review – Friday March 15 appeared first on Independence Daily.

News review – Tuesday 12 March 2019

News review – Tuesday 12 March 2019


THERESA May yesterday claimed to have secured a ‘legally-binding’ breakthrough deal over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop. But ahead of the crunch Commons vote later today, MPs have hit back indicating they would not back her plan. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn urged Parliament to vote down Mrs May’s new deal. The DUP and People’s Vote have also voice their concerns over the supposed breakthrough with Mrs May’s Northern Irish allies suggesting heavy scrutiny was still needed.

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a package of three new documents in Strasbourg last night. The breakthrough came after the Prime Minister made a dramatic dash to France for last minute talks on changing the Irish border backstop. A deal had to be done last night for MPs to vote on new documents today at the second meaningful vote to approve or reject the deal. The vote will be held at 7pm.  What are the changes to the deal?   There are three new documents that are now part of the divorce package – on top of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the Future Relationship.  None of the new documents change either of the two main ones agreed in November and which were defeated by 230 votes on January 15.

Theresa May claims to have secured significant changes to her Brexit deal in a last-minute dash to Europe just hours before she must put her plan to a critical vote in parliament. In a late night statement on Monday in Strasbourg she argued the new-look deal meant Britain could not be trapped in the “Irish backstop” so hated by Eurosceptic Tories and her DUP allies, but major doubts remain over whether it is enough to win their backing on Tuesday.

THERESA May has tonight WON legally binding changes to her Brexit deal in a bid to avoid another crushing Commons defeat. Talks went on deep into the night last night as Brexiteers considered whether it will be enough to ease their fears that the hated Northern Irish backstop would turn us into an EU colony forever.  As today’s Brexit vote remained on a knife edge, Mrs May told reporters her deal had secured the changes it needed for MPs to back her in the Commons.

Theresa May went to Strasbourg and pulled a unilateral declaration rabbit out of her hat. Stage-managed? Perhaps. At least Juncker was on stage with her and agreed that this was the last double act in which he would be appearing with her. You got the sense that this really is finally the end of the show. If it doesn’t work the curtain will come up on either a Second Referendum farce, Article Extension pantomime or General Election tragi-comedy… May’s statement is here, the EU’s here – review them yourself.

Sky News
Theresa May is facing the threat of another humiliating Commons defeat on Brexit despite an 11th-hour dash to Strasbourg in a bid to win an improved deal. After lengthy talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister claimed she had secured legal changes to the contentious issue of the Irish backstop. Announcing her new deal in Strasbourg, Mrs May said: “MPs were clear that legal changes were needed to the backstop. Today we have secured legal changes.

BBC News
MPs will vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal later after she secured “legally binding” changes to it following last-minute talks with the EU in Strasbourg. The PM said the changes meant the Irish backstop – the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland – could not “become permanent”. At a press conference with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Mrs May said she had delivered what Parliament asked her to do. But Labour said the talks had failed.

Theresa May has called for MPs to “come together” to back her deal after claiming to have secured the legally binding changes parliament wanted to ensure the EU cannot trap the UK in the Irish backstop and a permanent customs union. But within minutes of the start of a late-night joint press conference in Strasbourg, those words rang hollow, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, conceded the EU had not agreed to the prime minister’s central demand.

Labour’s Keir Starmer tonight savaged Theresa May’s Brexit ‘deal’ in a fiery House of Commons statement. The former Director of Public Prosecutions swept into full lawyer mode as he held aloft hundreds of pages of documents in a furious attack. He spoke after Theresa May jetted to Strasbourg for a last-ditch deal with the EU to persuade MPs to vote for her Brexit deal tomorrow night. Her deputy, David Lidington, told MPs the government had secured “legally-binding changes” that “strengthen and improve” the 585-page Brexit deal.

Theresa May urged MPs last night to unite and back an “improved Brexit deal” after securing changes that she said ensured Britain could not be trapped in the Irish backstop. The prime minister and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, unveiled a three-part package after last-minute talks in Strasbourg before the crucial Commons vote today. Mrs May needs significant changes to the guarantees to avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit if she is to have any chance of winning round Tory Brexiteers and the party’s DUP allies in her second attempt to pass the divorce deal.

CRUCIAL Brexit talks between the UK and EU came down to the wire, with Prime Minister Theresa May securing “legally binding” changes to her deal before today’s vote. Mrs May raced to Strasbourg, France, before MPs vote on her Brexit deal in Parliament.  The changes relate to the so-called Irish backstop, which Brexiteer MPs had argued could indefinitely lock the UK into having an open border with Ireland – an EU member state.  While the Government has said it does not want a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, it is concerned that key goals of leaving the single market and customs union would be made difficult by the arrangement.

Theresa May is back in London after claiming victory and securing ‘legally binding changes’ to the Irish border backstop after a dramatic last-minute dash to Strasbourg. The Prime Minister was seen smiling as she was swept into Downing Street in the early hours of this morning – but whether her breakthrough will convince Brexiteers and the DUP to vote through her deal is still uncertain.  Last night, at a joint press conference with Jean-Claude Juncker, Mrs May said her deal ‘delivers on the decision of the British people to leave the European Union’ and appealed for MPs to back it at 7pm tonight.

MPs stopped short of calling Theresa May’s Brexit deal a major breakthrough last night, with key factions saying they would study it in detail today before deciding whether to back it. Some, including Sir Mike Penning, a former Home Office minister and Brexiteer, said that the package was enough for them to abandon their opposition and vote for her deal minutes after details first emerged. However, key voting blocs in the Commons withheld a firm judgment.

With speculation of a Brexit extension growing by the day, there are increasing suspicions that the UK and EU will stitch something up to avoid the hugely embarrassing spectacle of the UK taking part in the next European Parliament Elections, even if Article 50 has been extended past when the elections are due to take place in May. Farage will be the big winner – the Tories will be routed… Leave Means Leave have now served legal notice on the Government to notify them that they will be taking legal action to ensure that voters can still take part in the European elections if the UK has failed to leave by that time.


LEO VARADKAR has held an emergency meeting with Irish government officials following an 11th hour breakthrough in Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union. The Taoiseach cut short his planned trip to the US to hold bilateral talks with the EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker. Prime Minister Theresa May flew to Strasbourg on Monday evening for crunch talks with the EU and has managed to secure “legally-binding” changes to her Brexit deal.


European Parliament president Antonio Tajani has said that the experiences of Britain attempting to leave the EU will serve as a “deterrent” to other nations considering leaving the bloc.  Speaking to Germany’s Morgenpost, the Italian politician was asked  whether, after nearly three years since the referendum and months of negotiation with obstructive Eurocrats in Brussels, he believed other Eurosceptic member states would be inspired by the UK to leave the bloc.

The EU is preparing for a delay to Brexit of at least a year, senior officials and diplomats have said. Martin Selmayr, the EU’s top civil servant and one of the key figures in recent Brexit talks, backs a delay until March next year or even longer, according to sources. During a briefing to European ambassadors yesterday he said that an extension would have to be a “one-off” and could be short if Theresa May gets the withdrawal agreement through the Commons, or long enough for “UK elections and a new government” if she fails.

Britain’s Parliament will almost certainly vote to delay Brexit this week, but the European Union — which must give their assent to this course of action — is expected to extract a heavy price in return, potentially £1 billion a month. The EU has long demanded a significant amount of British taxpayers’ money in return for the UK to leave the bloc essentially in name only, while still remaining inside its structures — a compromise the government hopes would satisfy both anti-Brexit politicians and the pro-Brexit public.

The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has outrageously claimed that the “majority” of Brits want to remain in the European Union – and that Brexit should serve as a “deterrent” to other countries considering an EU exit. In a borderline delusional interview with Germany’s Berliner Morgenpost, Tajani says of Brexit: “The British government says: Let’s go. But the majority of the population says: We want to stay. This is shown by all surveys. I would be very happy if the British stayed in the EU.”

FORMER French Environment Minister Ségolène Royale said on Sunday that “any” solution to stop Brexit would be good, as he admitted his support for the UK remaining in the EU. Ms Royale stressed voters had not been warned about the consequences of the divorce during the 2016 referendum campaign. Asked by BFM television whether a second people’s vote would be “democratic,” Mrs Royale said: “Any solution that would allow us to keep the British with us would be good.”


The claims that British trade with the Commonwealth can make up for leaving the EU is “the nuttiest of the many nutty arguments” advanced by Brexit supporters and “utter bollocks”, the former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd has said. In a lacerating piece for the Guardian, Rudd dismissed the claims by some Brexit supporters that the UK could strike deals with his country, New Zealand, Canada and India to soften the blow and said the UK risked undermining western values by leaving the EU in a weaker position when it left.

Labour Party

The scale of Labour’s deepening split has been laid bare after 160 MPs and peers including grandees and shadow ministers attended the launch of a new moderate “party within a party” led by Tom Watson. Grandees who supported Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and waged war during the New Labour years set aside their differences as they attended the meeting organised by Mr Watson, the party’s deputy leader. Leading Blairites including Lord Mandelson, Lord Blunkett and Pat McFadden attended alongside Brownites such as Mr Watson, Yvette Cooper and Lord Wood.

More than 150 Labour MPs and Lords have attended a meeting of a new group, in a bid to offset the influence of the party’s dominant left wing. The event organised by deputy leader Tom Watson was attended by 14 members of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow ministerial team. Addressing the new social democratic Future Britain group, Mr Watson argued that the party faces its biggest ever schism unless it “restores pluralism and tolerance”.  The gathering saw followers of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown mix, having once engaged in bitter infighting, with Peter Mandelson telling the group they must “work together to save the party”.

BBC News
Around 130 Labour politicians, including around a dozen former cabinet ministers, crammed into a committee room in Parliament tonight to discuss their alternative vision for the party. The Future Britain Group – set up by Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson – heard from former leader Lord Kinnock and former cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, among others.

LABOUR big beasts Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson gave a massive show of support for Tom Watson’s breakaway group last night. They urged Labour moderates to unite to defend the party’s democratic values – as 150 Labour MPs and peers met at the first meeting of the deputy leader’s new ‘Future Britain’ grouping. Other Labour MPs pleaded with Mr Watson to “save” Labour from the clutches of Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left supporters.

Workers’ rights

Labour MPs have been urged to disregard Theresa May‘s “heart-hearted” offer on workers’ rights after a new legal opinion poured cold water over her plans. Ahead of a Commons showdown on Ms May’s Brexit deal, top QC Aidan O’Neill has drafted a damning assessment of the prime minister’s proposals to protect workers’ rights, which were unveiled last week in an attempt to win over Labour MPs. The EU law expert, who was commissioned by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), argued that Ms May’s offer provides no guarantee that future EU standards will be matched when the UK leaves the bloc.

The Brexit Party

A taste of things to come for MPs if they vote to extend Brexit – Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party now officially has more MEPs than UKIP. Eight UK MEPs now sit in Farage’s Brexit Party – Tim Aker, Jonathan Bullock, David Coburn, Bill Etheridge, Nathan Gill, Paul Nuttall, Julia Reid and Farage himself, ahead of Gerard Batten’s fringe UKIP rump of seven. Bullock says the Brexit Party will “fully mobilise” to take on the Tories at any subsequent European or General election if the Tories “rat” on their manifesto commitment to leave by 29 March.

Universal credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must pay out compensation to families who receive their Universal Credit late, a report declares today. The major policy shift could have helped hundreds of thousands of people who have not received their first payment on time. As of February 2018, a shocking 83% of Universal Credit claimants did not receive their first payment on time and in full. The standard waiting time for the benefit, paid to 1.6million claimants and counting, is five weeks

Channel border

As any self-respecting Brexit pundit will be more than happy to remind us, smart borders featuring mythological things like remote customs declarations and automated number plate checking are simply “unicorns” which aren’t likely to be possible for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They certainly won’t be suitable for any post-Brexit border crossings… Which is why French Customs have just unveiled a “smart border” – an “innovative technological solution” which will be implemented on 29 March 2019 “at all points of entry/exit to/from the Calais region and at border points from Channel-North Sea to maintain smooth circulation of your goods.”


Oxford University’s philosophy, politics and economics degree has helped to propel political leaders from Harold Wilson to David Cameron to power, and launched the careers of numerous journalists and commentators. Now an independent girls’ school in London has decided to cut the number of GCSEs its pupils study to nine to make room for a course in PPE. Wimbledon High School said the decision was driven in part by frustration at the limitations of the exams, which are a mammoth test of memory, but also by the desire among its pupils to learn more about the world.


BBC News
The four-hour A&E target may be dropped under plans announced by NHS England. NHS bosses have unveiled plans for an overhaul of the A&E target alongside changes to waiting times for cancer, mental health and planned operations. It said the targets were becoming outdated. But it comes after many of them have been missed for years. Instead of aiming to see and treat virtually all A&E patients in four hours, the sickest patients will be prioritised for quick treatment.

The NHS is to scrap the four-hour target to see patients in Accident and Emergency after the worst performance since the target was introduced back in 2004. What a remarkable coincidence. With a ridiculous population surge fuelled by mass migration that recently saw the largest annual population growth for 70 years (538,000), the health service is clearly struggling to cope. And the four-hour target is now set to be scrapped. In February, A&E performance was recorded at the worst level since records began in 2004. That terrible performance means that 330,000 patients were left waiting longer than they should have been. Solution? Just scrap the target! Absurd.

Plane crash

A British environmentalist killed in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash had just secured an international agreement to protect marine wildlife, which will now be dedicated in her honour. Joanna Toole, 36, was leading a global campaign to introduce ownership markings on fishing nets and cages to prevent them from being dumped overboard, entangling and killing animals including whales, seals and turtles.

The doomed Ethiopian Airlines jet ‘had smoke pouring from the rear’ before coming down ‘with a loud boom’ in a crash which killed 157 people, a witness has said. Gebeyehu Fikadu said he saw flight ET302 ‘swerving and dipping’ while ‘luggage and clothes came burning down’ when it crashed within minutes of take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning. All 149 passengers and eight crew members on board the Nairobi-bound plane died in the disaster – the second involving a 737 MAX 8 in just five months.

The post News review – Tuesday 12 March 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

Gender over Race? Equity and inclusion in higher education

While universities are focusing on addressing gender inequality, Kalwant Bhopal and Holly Henderson find that there is little imperative to also address race and racism in the academy. They summarise the findings of a new study on the experiences of higher education staff working towards the Athena SWAN Charter and the Race Equality Charter.

Current scholarship on race in the UK academy consistently highlights the pervasiveness of institutional racism, despite the presence of equality and diversity policies and the 2010 Equalities Act. Institutional racism works in overt and covert ways. In its covert form, racism is felt in BME staff marginalisation and exclusion from decision-making practices, and in the performance and reproduction of the university as an elite, white space at all levels. As stated in a recent report by the Trade Unions Congress, ‘BME workers too often experience racism at work, which is part of their everyday life. And more times than not it’s hidden. There are more obvious racist incidents that take place. But also the more hidden types such as micro-aggressions, implicit bias and prejudice’.

While covert racism is difficult to pinpoint and prove, high proportions of BME academics have also experienced overt racist bullying and harassment from managers (72% of respondents) and colleagues (69% of respondents), according to a recent UCU report. The combined effects of these forms of institutional racism can be seen in the significant under-representation of BME staff in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), and particularly at levels of seniority in both academic and professional and support services. The effects can also be seen in the high proportions of UK BME academics who consider a move overseas due to their experiences of marginalisation at work.

In terms of career progression in higher education, research has found racist practices in recruitment, promotions and pay. In addition to these measurable inequalities, the daily experience of marginalisation and exclusion remains deeply ingrained in the cultures of HEIs, and is a significant and normalised aspect of institutional life for many BME employees.

The Race Equality Charter and the Athena SWAN Charter

The insidiousness of racist practices across the academy has proved difficult to challenge through equality and diversity policies thus far. However, the Race Equality Charter (REC) has been found to offer the potential to address racism in the academy. Yet current research findings suggest that although the REC has been found to offer a potentially powerful framework for beginning to address racism in HEIs, considerably more resource investment and incentive is needed in order for the charter to be as effective as is necessary.

Following successful pilots in previous years, the REC was launched in 2016. The Charter Mark process requires participating HEIs to form a self-assessment team whose main function is to complete a report on their current position in relation to race equality, and compile a four-year action plan to address outstanding concerns. As a result of this process, the HEI is awarded either a bronze or silver level award, which signals their commitment to work on race equality. Currently, 52 HEIs are members of the REC.

The Charter Mark policy was first used in the form of the Athena SWAN Charter (ASC), which focuses on gender equality in universities. The ASC was established in 2005, but became particularly prominent after an announcement in 2011 by the British Medical Research Council that applicants for medical research funding would not be considered unless their school held at least a silver Athena SWAN award. This announcement precipitated an increase of 400% in medical school or faculty applications for Athena SWAN awards, while total awards granted nationally increased from 22 to 180 between 2011 and 2014.

At present, there are significant differences between the REC and the ASC. Because the ASC has existed for some 11 years longer than the REC, and because it is tied to medical research funding, the ASC is often the top priority for HEIs. This is evidenced by the number of institutions applying for or holding the respective Charter Mark Awards, and in the findings from our recent project (see below). In addition, HEIs currently apply for a REC award as a whole institution, whereas the ASC operates at both the department/faculty level and at a whole institution level – so a higher proportion of staff are likely to engage or have engaged with the ASC than with the REC. Finally, the REC focuses on inequalities experienced by students and in the curriculum, as well as focusing on inequalities for staff. The REC therefore represents a larger or more daunting task for HEIs than the ASC, and carries none of the ASC’s incentive of funding.

Gender over race

There is evidence to suggest that gender has taken precedence in policy-making in higher education, with white middle class women being the main beneficiaries of the ASC. Our recent findings from a project funded by the British Academy confirm this. The project used qualitative methods to explore the experiences of staff working towards the ASC and REC through one-to-one interviews with Equality and Diversity practitioners, and focus groups with members of Self Assessment Teams.

As a consequence of the project’s focus, we were able to gain an important insight into the ways that the ASC takes precedence over the REC. In part, this precedence is a consequence of the chronology of the Charter Mark policies; because the ASC was introduced ten years earlier than the REC, the lessons learned in HEIs from engaging with the ASC are carried forward into their REC practice. One of the most significant of these lessons was around the issue of the heavy workload of the ASC process, and participants reported the difficulty of introducing the REC as another Charter Mark and therefore a double Equality and Diversity Initiative workload:

Well, we haven’t sat down yet to talk about the REC, but it’s really hard, because you don’t want to sound negative, and I do absolutely think we should do it, but I am concerned about resourcing, because it is a lot of work and I don’t think anyone realizes quite how much work it is, so that is an issue (white female, post-1992, REC member).

This excerpt is representative of the views of many of the participants in the study, for whom Race Equality work was both undeniably important and, in the context of their existing ASC duties, an overwhelming prospect.

In some HEIs, the possibility of beginning work on the REC was further undermined by a perception that, while gender is a universal inequality, there are areas of the UK where racial inequality is less of a concern:

On different applications the meaning of the REC in different institutions is actually going to be quite different, which probably it has to be, in as much as, you take a city like [this city] and its racial composition is going to be very different to Bradford or wherever, and so the goal is going to be very different. Whereas everywhere has pretty much the same proportions of men and women, so it’s a different challenge (white male, red brick, ASC Bronze Award Holder).

This response suggests that gender was seen as a universal issue by respondents, in contrast to race which was seen as only a concern where racial diversity already exists. There is a risk here that white-only academic spaces are perpetuated by the myth that this is the natural state of a particular academic space, and should only be more diverse if it already is diverse. Despite the contradictions of the race-geography argument, it was common across our data set, and therefore clearly represents a convincing justification within equalities work for a shift away from addressing white privilege through the perception that race, in contrast to gender, is a niche or context-specific inequality.

Across our sample, it was clear that both the ASC and REC offer an important framework for equalities work in UK universities. Respondents saw the charter marks as having enabled difficult conversations to take place, providing justification for the importance of undertaking work to address gender and racial inequalities in their institutions. In particular, the connection between the Athena SWAN award and medical research funding was seen as having made gender equality a priority. The result of this was that good practice for gender equality had become a standard item on meeting agenda and appointment panels, and data systems had improved so that metrics on gender in recruitment, promotion and retention were accessible and up to date. Department and School-level Athena SWAN awards were also identified as prompting localised as well as institution-wide changes to practice.

Race: a secondary equalities priority

Yet largely due to experiences of working on the ASC, a common perception of the REC was as an additional, often impossible, workload. As a consequence of this perception, HEIs responded by considering economising strategies such as combining roles focusing on race and gender, or arguing that the REC was less necessary in a particular institutional context. Given the potential, noted above, for the charter marks to enable difficult and necessary conversations on separate issues of gender and race equalities in universities, and given the particular discomfort of discussions of race and racism, we would see these economising strategies as a backwards step. Rather than approaching the REC with a logic of economising and efficiency, we would suggest that the REC requires significant investment of resources and time at institution-wide and localised levels, as has been shown to be effective in relation to the ASC.

Even if it is couched as a simple accident of timing, the effects of the introduction of the REC after the firm establishment of the ASC are that the REC is a secondary equalities priority. While institutions can claim to be working on structural inequality by focusing on gender equality, there is little or no imperative to shift the focus to uncomfortable conversations about race and racism in the academy. The findings from our study suggest that, as race is introduced, so is a weariness with the equalities agenda, an economising logic for diversity work, and justifications for inequalities more universal or more deserving than those of race. Given the stark and persistent racial inequalities in UK higher education, it is crucial that these are not allowed to be conflated with or replaced by more familiar discussions around gender equality. Through such a conflation, HEIs could appear to be conducting work on redressing inequality, while ensuring that the very issues that exclude people of colour from the academy are further excluded from discussions within the academy.


Note: the above draws on the authors’ forthcoming British Academy/Leverhulme report Advancing Equality in Higher Education: an exploratory study of the Athena Swan and Race Equality Charter. (Link to follow).

About the Authors

Kalwant Bhopal is Professor of Education and Social Justice, Professorial Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham.



Holly Henderson is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham.




All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Sunday papers – 10 March 2019

Sunday papers – 10 March 2019


Is ‘no deal’ gaining ground?  The Telegraph seems to think so.

Support for a no-deal Brexit is growing in the face of the EU’s refusal to help salvage Theresa May’s deal, according to a new poll.
A survey by ComRes found that 44 per cent of the public now believe the UK should leave without a deal if Brussels refuses to make any further concessions – a six point rise from January. Less than a third (30 per cent) disagreed.
It came as 74 senior Tory activists, including more than 50 association chairman, told Mrs May that Conservative voters “do not fear a no deal exit” and “just want Brexit delivered.”

The Independent reports research claiming that leaving under WTO rules is popular.

A long delay to Brexit would be unacceptable to a majority of the British public, according to an exclusive poll days before critical votes in the House of Commons.
Some 52 per cent of people do not want a delay to last more than six months, the survey by BMG Research for The Independent indicated.
The data flies in the face of extensions advocated in Brussels, by Remainers and even some Brexiteers. They have talked about pushing back the date of the UK’s departure for a year or more – something supported by fewer than one in five, according to the survey.
The poll also showed that just 17 per cent actually want any extension if Theresa May’s Brexit plan is again rejected as expected this week, with the two most popular alternatives a quick new in or out referendum, or simply leaving with no deal.


And the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement is losing favour, says the Telegraph.

When David Davis became the first of four Cabinet ministers to resign over Brexit last year, he warned the Prime Minister that her approach to talks with the EU would leave the country “in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.”
He conceded, however, that it was possible that, “you are right and I am wrong.”
Some eight months later, faced with the possibility of a deal that many in the current Cabinet fear could leave the UK tied to the EU on trade, or the growing likelihood of a delay to Brexit itself, a sizeable chunk of MPs take the former Brexit Secretary’s view, rather than Mrs May’s.


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the interminable Brexit saga, the Independent reiterates that negotiations are not going well.

Last-ditch negotiations in the Brexit process have descended into open hostility as one senior minister accused the EU of playing “games” with just three days to go until MPs vote on Theresa May‘s plans.
After an extraordinary exchange between the Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, and the EU’s chief negotiator on social media, the Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said she was “deeply disappointed with what we’re hearing coming out of the EU”.

The Express also quotes the Leader of the House.

ANDREA LEADSOM has ripped up Brussels’ latest Brexit proposal, accusing them of playing games.
It comes hours after the UK’s Brexit negotiators rejected the European Union’s latest withdrawal agreement offer, which would potential split the UK down the Irish Sea. The leader of the House of Commons said on Saturday: “There is still hope but I have to stay I’m deeply disappointed with what we are hearing coming out of the EU. “I do have to ask myself what game are they playing here.”

The top Eurocrat has re-offered the same deal that has been roundly rejected, reports Reuters.

The leader of parliament Andrea Leadsom said she was beginning to wonder what game the European Union was playing over Brexit as relations between London and Brussels deteriorated ahead of a vote by lawmakers next week.
Less than three weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to secure the changes to the divorce agreement she needs to gain the support of lawmakers who rejected it in a record rebellion in January.
At the heart of the dispute is a disagreement over how to manage the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.
On Friday, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier put forward a proposal to keep the border open and keep the province subject to EU rules, prompting London to reject it.

The Mail says the EU is ‘playing games’.

Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom has torn into the European Union and accused it of ‘playing games’ as relations between London and Brussels continue to deteriorate.
The MP for South Northamptonshire said she was beginning to wonder what game the European Union was playing over Brexit as tensions continue to surge during negotiations.
She added that she was ‘deeply disappointed with what we’re hearing coming out of the EU’ just days before the latest vote on Theresa May‘s latest Brexit plans.

The Express outlines what is going to happen in Parliament this week.

THERESA May’s first Brexit deal went through a brutal 230-vote defeat in the Commons in January 15, forcing her to carry on negotiations with the EU. But what will happen if her new deal is rejected this week?
MPs will vote on Theresa May’s revised deal on Tuesday, March 12. The original deal was voted down over concerns it would result in the UK being tied to the EU indefinitely because of the backstop issue. Mrs May has still not figured out a clear plan with EU chiefs on how to manage the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, leading to fears MPs will be unsatisfied with her deal once again.

The Prime Minister has been advised she’ll lose again on Tuesday, says Sky News.

Theresa May has been warned another brutal Commons defeat over her Brexit deal is “inevitable” without late changes to the Northern Ireland backstop.
The prime minister is preparing for a huge week in Westminster, with the withdrawal agreement she struck with Brussels set to go before parliament yet again.
She has been trying to secure legally binding changes to the unpopular backstop to convince MPs that the UK cannot be tied indefinitely to EU rules against its wishes, which she hopes would be enough to get the deal through.

And two senior Parliamentarians have issued a warning, says BBC News.

Two leading Brexiteers have said any delay to Brexit would do “incalculable” harm to public trust in politics.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Tory MP Steve Baker and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the “extended uncertainty” would be a “political calamity”.
On Tuesday, Theresa May will again ask MPs to back her Brexit deal, but if they reject it they may get a chance to vote to delay Brexit.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

Second referendum

The Labour Party’s thoughts about a People’s Vote have changed, says the Guardian.

An amendment proposing a second referendum from two backbench Labour MPs will not now be put to a vote when Theresa May brings her Brexit deal back to parliament next week.
Labour’s leadership wants attention on Tuesday to focus on May’s deal – but the party has not ruled out a second referendum motion later in the week if the prime minister fails to win MPs’ backing.
Campaigners for a second referendum believe they can only a win a majority in the Commons if it is seen as the sole option to break the deadlock preventing any Brexit deal passing through parliament.


The European offer, to keep Northern Ireland in the bloc while the rest of the UK leaves, is unacceptable, says the Express.

BRITAIN will not sacrifice Northern Ireland to the EU for the delivery of Brexit, the Ulster Unionist leader said.
Robin Swann claimed the Irish border backstop proposal which would effectively see the country continue to follow European trade regulations was an abomination of the 1998 Belfast Agreement. He said Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and EU negotiator Michel Barnier should honour the principle of consent by which Northern Ireland’s constitutional status cannot be changed unless its people should decide so. Mr Swann said: “The DUP’s inept handling of Brexit right from before the referendum has now led us back to the Northern Ireland-only backstop that they first missed in 2017, despite my warnings. “I say to London, Brussels and Dublin that Northern Ireland will not be a dowry to the EU for the delivery of Brexit.

Breitbart says the proposal is ‘degrading’.

The Democratic Unionist Party has slammed the EU’s “degrading proposal” to allow Britain to leave the “backstop” envisioned in Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal without their permission — as long as Northern Ireland is left behind.
The Withdrawal Agreement, already rejected by Parliament in a so-called “meaningful vote” but due to come before MPs again by March 12th, possibly unchanged, would see the British government hand Brussels an estimated £39 billion in exchange for a “transition” period in which the UK would essentially remain in the EU, minus its voting rights, while negotiations continue.
If the transition concludes without a final deal being reached, the Withdrawal Agreement stipulates that it is either extended by mutual agreement, or the two parties fall into an indefinite “backstop” arrangement in which Northern Ireland would be effectively annexed to the EU Customs Union while mainland Great Britain would enter a parallel, EU-controlled “single customs territory” — an arrangement the British government would not be allowed to terminate without the EU’s permission.

And Westmonster describes the DUP leader’s reaction as ‘savage’.

The DUP’s Westminster Leader, Nigel Dodds, has savaged the European Union’s latest intervention. It is looking increasingly unlikely that Theresa May will get her unchanged deal through Parliament.
Responding to the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, Dodds said: “Nothing new in what Barnier is offering. This is a retreat back to the proposal of a Northern Ireland only backstop previously rejected by all sides in the House of Commons.”
And in a statement Dodds was even more emphatic, insisting: “This is neither a realistic nor sensible proposal from Michel Barnier. It disrespects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom. This is an attempt to get ahead of a possible blame game and appear positive when in reality it is going backwards to something rejected a year ago.

Theresa May

The Times addresses the prospect of the PM’s retirement.

Theresa May is battling to save her premiership this weekend as cabinet ministers warned she may have to fall on her sword to save Brexit.
In a final throw of the dice, Philip Hammond will offer Tory MPs a £20bn Brexit “bribe” this week to finally “end austerity” if they support the prime minister’s deal.
The chancellor will use his spring statement on the public finances on Wednesday to pledge to pump money into the police, schools and even some tax cuts in a spending review this autumn — but only if parliament votes for a deal.

The Express claims she may be persuaded to quit.

THERESA MAY could be persuaded to resign as soon as her much-maligned Brexit deal is passed, according to reports.
Senior figures in Parliament have confessed the Prime Minister has “run out of road”. A Cabinet minister told The Sunday Times: “I don’t believe there is a single one of us who thinks it’s a good idea for her to stay beyond June.”
They revealed the four main contenders to succeed her — Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab are “ready to go”.
The resignation of the Prime Minister could be forced by Cabinet ministers next week after talks were held on when to ask her to step down.

‘Project insult’?

They’ll try anything, these anti-Brexiteers.  The latest in the Times is to claim we’re stupid.

It is a belief that some pro-Europeans already hold dear, but a group of scientists now claim to have confirmed it: Brexit voters are less bright than remainers.
Researchers gave 11,225 volunteers psychological tests before the referendum and asked how they intended to vote. Results suggest that leavers tended to be less numerate, more impulsive and more prone to accept the unsupported claims of authoritarian figures.
“Compared with remain voters, leave voters displayed significantly lower levels of numeracy and appeared more reliant on impulsive thinking,” said the researchers, based at Missouri University.

Labour Party

Corbyn’s woes have not diminished, reports the Times.

Two of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aides directly intervened to lift the suspension of an activist accused of anti-semitism, according to leaked emails.
Seumas Milne, the Labour leader’s director of strategy and communications, told party officials to reinstate Glyn Secker after two of them had ruled that he be kicked out for joining a Facebook group where members posted messages denying the Holocaust.

And BBC News reports a comment by a lord that the situation is embarrassing.

Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints is an “embarrassing mess” and represents a “political failure”, peers have told Jeremy Corbyn.
Lord Harris, who chairs Labour’s group in the Lords, said the party’s moral authority had been “diminished” and its anti-racism credentials dented.
Labour faces a possible probe by the human rights watchdog into whether it discriminated against Jewish people.
Mr Corbyn said on Friday that the party had “nothing to hide”.
The Labour Party has been dealing with complaints of anti-Semitism over the last two years.

Armed forces

The famous Gurkhas will be drafted in to help the army, says the Sun.

ARMY chiefs will start recruiting hundreds of extra elite Gurkhas this year to bolster infantry expertise, we can reveal.
Top brass will increase the number of Gurkhas to the UK military to from 250 to around 400 a year as they form a new battalion.
The new battalion of Nepalese soldiers, whose motto is “Better to die than live a coward”, provide specialist to the Army including engineering and logistic support.
They will join other members of the Specialist Infantry Group where they will be deployed around the world after passing a rigorous selection process.
Existing Gurkha units will be boosted as part of the UK-led NATO rapid reaction force and setting up new Gurkha Engineer and Signals Squadrons.


White, British, middle class students could be rejected for diversity reasons, says the Telegraph.

Middle class Oxford rejects are increasingly demanding explanations about why they missed out on a place, amid fear that they are being “squeezed out” by the university’s diversity drive.
Oxford is under growing pressure to admit more undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds and Colleges have started using “contextual data” about a student’s background to inform tutors’ decisions on their application.
But students from white middle class backgrounds who went to a private school or grew up in an affluent area do not fit into any of the “diversity” categories.

Social care

There’s a new challenge for staff looking after elderly residents in care homes, says the Sun.

CARE home staff have been told to help residents have sex and ask them whether they enjoy practices such as cross dressing, it was reported.
Under new guidelines, care homes could even fail an inspection unless they can show they are meeting the sexual needs of residents.
The Care Quality Commission suggests residents should be asked if they are sexually active, are gay and whether they enjoy sexual practices such as cross dressing, The Times reported.
It is the first time the watchdog as has set out expectations about meeting residents’ sexual needs, a subject that has previously been taboo among care workers.

World Cup

Corruption in the highest echelons of football is highlighted in the Times.

The state of Qatar secretly offered $400m to Fifa just 21 days before world football’s governing body controversially decided that the 2022 World Cup would be held in the tiny desert country, leaked documents have revealed.
The files, seen by The Sunday Times, show that executives from the Qatari state-run broadcaster Al Jazeera signed a television contract making the huge offer as the bidding campaigns to host the World Cup were reaching a climax.
The contract included an unprecedented success fee of $100m that would be paid into a designated Fifa account only if Qatar was successful in the World Cup ballot in 2010.

The Times also reports the bribes.

The bidding war for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments was at its most frenzied and nine nations were hoping that the prize of hosting the world’s greatest football competition would be theirs. It was November 2010 and even England dared to dream.
But the tiny state of Qatar had emerged as the unlikeliest of contenders — and the rumour was that it might go all the way. Behind the scenes, Qatar had been doing deals to win the 13 votes that mattered. Nothing, however, would be left to chance. So, with 21 days remaining before the ballot, Qatar put on the table an enormous take-it-or-leave-it offer.


There could be a problem with Global Positioning Satellites next week, says the Mail.

GPS systems could be brought down next month due to a computer calendar error says information security expert.
An expert at the RSA 2019 security conference in San Francisco this week said he predicts a Y2K like computer error for older GPS systems to take place on April 6, in less than a month’s time.
The computers’ calendars could fail if GPS devices’ with older systems flip back to zero after literally running out of time, reaching the end of their counters.

The Sun also has the story.

A TERRIFYING computer bug could crash markets and close ports by wrecking the world’s GPS systems next MONTH.
Experts fear the Y2K-like glitch could spark chaos for millions by resetting calendars on old computer systems on 6 April.
Cybersecurity expert Bill Malik said he wouldn’t dare flying on the day the glitch is set to wreak havoc.
He told Tom’s Guide: “The effects would be more widespread because so many more systems have integrated GPS into their operations.

Online scams

Fake text messages could be about to hit our phones, reports the Mail.

Online scammers are now targeting the bank balances of Britain’s drivers by sending out fake text messages which claim to be from the DVLA.
Fraudsters try to lure road users into handing over their personal details by suggesting that they are entitled to a refund on their vehicle tax.
The motoring authority has now increased its social media outreach to warn people of the scam after it was bombarded by messages from panicking recipients of the dodgy texts.

The post Sunday papers – 10 March 2019 appeared first on Independence Daily.

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