Posts Tagged ‘Uncategorized’

The ICT Sector’s Brexit Priorities

Dr Elizabeth Lomas, Senior Lecturer in Information Governance at UCL, discusses some key steps to support the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector with regards to Brexit. Drawing on research from workshops and surveys, this post captures key actions and…

Is a second referendum on Brexit possible? Seven questions that need to be answered

Two years on from the Brexit vote, the benefits of a second referendum are being hotly debated. In this post, UCL’s Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell identify seven questions that should be considered before parliament decides whether a second Brexit referendum…

Orchestral manoeuvres, in the dark: what Brexit means for touring musicians

British orchestras tour widely in the EU – and when we leave, they will probably need work permits and special social security and health insurance arrangements, as well as facing delays at the border. Mark Pemberton (Association of British Orchestras) urges the government to ensure bilateral deals are in place to minimise the extra costs involved.

Heard every day in our concert halls, on radio and streaming sites, on the soundtracks of movies, TV shows and games, and both live and recorded with rock and pop artists, British orchestras are key contributors to the success of Britain’s creative industries – the fastest growing sector in the UK economy.


The CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Photo: Amanda Slater via a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence

But they also perform a strong public relations role for the UK. They showcase the very best of British culture and musical excellence to thousands of people around the world through international tours.

In 2016 British orchestras visited a total of 42 countries globally, compared with 35 in 2013. Europe is the most toured-to continent, with orchestras doing 96 visits to 26 different European countries. But they are also increasingly popular in China and the Far East, while maintaining their profile in the USA and the rest of the Americas and travelling as far afield as Australia.

Touring is vital to our members’ financial sustainability. As public funding cuts have led to a squeeze on their concerts in the UK, touring abroad on a commercial basis has become an ever more important source of income. But it’s increasingly competitive out there. The growth in orchestras in China and other Asian countries means more orchestras are chasing the limited number of opportunities to perform abroad. British orchestras’ reputation for quality, flexibility and innovation have stood them in good stead, but they need every tool at their disposal to maintain their status in the market. And unlike many of their international competitors, British orchestras, apart from in Scotland, do not have access to public funds to support their tours. The days of British Council funded tours are long gone, and it’s down to how good their value proposition is in a crowded market.

Which brings us to Brexit. Membership of the single market and the customs union has been hugely beneficial in enabling British orchestras to tour across Europe, which generates both revenue and secures their international reputation. One positive of the result of the EU referendum was that the devaluation of the pound made British orchestras cheaper on the international market. But the pound will eventually rise, and a cheap currency is small comfort to the overall challenge that Brexit poses, especially as the EU is their biggest market.

Firstly, if controls are placed on EU citizens coming to work in the UK, controls may equally be placed on UK citizens wishing to work in EU countries. Restrictions and costs, for example for work permits, could be imposed on Association of British Orchestras (ABO) members by EU nations, damaging the financial viability of tours.

One anomaly of the single market is that when orchestras tour to another EU country, they are technically ‘posting’ their workers. This means that the wages and conditions in the host country have to be applied. A crucial tool, however, for ensuring that musicians do not have social security payments deducted when working in other EU countries is the A1 certificate, which proves the worker is paying national insurance in their home country. The ABO urgently needs assurance that the UK will remain within the A1 system, as otherwise our musicians will face as much as 20% being deducted from their fees. To compensate, British orchestras will have to become a lot more expensive to cover this lost income for their musicians, making us less competitive.

The planning cycle for orchestras is often more than two years ahead of performance (and up to four years for opera), so contracts with promoters in the EU have already been signed for beyond March 2019. This means that fees have been fixed, and any additional costs that follow the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have the potential to cause already contracted tours to lose money.

Loss of access to the European Health Insurance Card will mean that orchestras and freelance musicians, as well as youth orchestras, will need to pay extra for medical insurance when on tour. Membership of the customs union removes the need for carnets and border controls when transporting musical instruments across EU borders. Should border controls and carnets be imposed once the UK leaves the EU, this will add significantly to the administration and cost of touring into Europe.

ABO members have also reported that they will need an extra day on either side of a tour to ensure sufficient time for trucks to exit and then return to the UK, to compensate for delays at the border, and the musicians will need, at considerable cost, second instruments to ensure they can continue to rehearse and perform in the UK while their other instrument is transported into Europe. It is important to note that customs controls would also apply to national and local youth orchestras, potentially reducing opportunities for young people to gain valuable experience of touring to and engaging in cultural exchange with other EU countries.

We are not saying that touring into the EEA would stop immediately, but there is a clear danger that as British orchestras become more expensive and more problematic, they will become less attractive to European festivals and venues. The consequence could be that work dries up in 5 to 10 years’ time. And without the income it brings, the financial viability of orchestras will be called into question, unless there is a significant increase in public subsidy.

So what can government do to help? Well, firstly, listen to our concerns on Brexit. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has done a great job in consulting us but we need to know this is having an impact on the negotiations. We are not alone in needing A1 certificates, or no queues at the border. Switzerland has been able to negotiate access to the A1 system through a bilateral agreement, and we urge the UK government to do the same.

And secondly, be an enabler. Using the UK’s ‘soft power’ to help build profile and links in emerging markets would be helpful.

And thirdly, look at how other countries provide funding for tours. Touring is a risky business. Promoters can go bust, owing thousands. And in emerging markets such as China, concerts can be cancelled at extremely short notice, turning a marginal profit from a tour into a loss. Some form of ‘export guarantee’, to cover unexpected losses beyond the orchestra’s control, would be helpful.

With these tools at our disposal, British orchestras can maintain their role as cultural ambassadors. We can keep Europe as a major marketplace, while growing our business in new markets. We’re up for it. We just need to ensure that barriers and extra costs don’t get in the way.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Mark Pemberton is Director of the Association of British Orchestras and chair of the National Music Council.

How both the Conservatives and Labour have taken up positions which are distressing for British business

For years, the binary between left and right when it comes to business matters meant that the Conservatives were predominantly supported by that sector. This is no longer the case, writes Iain McMenamin, with British business now caught in a bind between the left-wing socialist politics of Jeremy Corbyn and the nationalist foreign economic policy of Theresa May.

Politics used to be easy for British business. There was really only one relevant policy dimension (left versus right) and really only one party worth supporting (the Conservatives). The role of the state in the economy and the management of inequality had structured British politics since the first mass-suffrage elections. Although the distance between the two parties was constantly changing, the Conservatives have always been to the right of Labour on this dimension. This century of straightforward politics meant that the Conservatives received substantial donations from the business sector. These donations varied a lot over time, but the question has always been: “How much do we like the Conservatives?”, rather than “Do we prefer Labour or the Conservatives?” Sure, Tony Blair claimed that the Labour party was the “Natural Party of Business”, and attracted the support of some rich people, but even during New Labour’s pomp, the numbers of businesses donating to Labour were a fraction of those contributing to the Conservatives.

Contemporary British politics is very difficult for British business. Now there are two dimensions. The left-right dimension has been separated from contestation of the extent to which the state will engage in frameworks of multilateral economic governance. Painfully, both main parties have taken up positions which are distressing for British business, albeit on different dimensions. For the first time in a century, there is no British party which is clearly pro-business. On the globalisation dimension, the Conservative Party has spent most of the last two years committed to a so-called “Hard Brexit” that almost inevitably involves reduced access to the largest market for UK business, along with disruption of long-established supply chains. On the old left-right dimension, the Labour Party has its most left-wing leader since at least 1983 and the radical left is increasingly prominent at all levels of the party. The funders of the Conservative Party need to make up their minds as to which is more frightening, the left-wing politics of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour or the nationalist foreign economic policy of Theresa May’s Conservative Party.In the new more complex and fluid policy space, donations to political parties can provide insights into the preferences of donors. I study 19,000 donations to the Conservative Party between 2001 and the end of 2017. I focus on how many businesses donate to the Conservatives on a given day, rather than how many donations (as one business can make several simultaneously) or their financial value (as large donations can skew the numbers). I take into account regular influences on donations, such as the popularity of the parties, which party is in government, the time since the last election, and whether an election has been called. My calculations imply that donations under Brexit were 81 percent of what they otherwise would have been and that donations after Corbyn were 142 per cent of what they otherwise would have been. These are massive effects: both policy shifts had a greater impact on business donations than a six per cent change in the Conservatives’ poll rating relative to Labour. I also investigate the impact of different versions of Brexit by tracking the number of articles in the UK mentioning “Hard Brexit” or “Soft Brexit”. Twenty-six fewer articles (one standard deviation) about Hard Brexit imply a sixteen per cent increase in donations. Nine more articles (also one standard deviation) about Soft Brexit imply a thirty-three per cent increase in donations. These figures are little bit more speculative, but also indicate the strength of business sensitivity to the globalisation dimension and its impact on the finances of the Conservatives.

The British case offers both reassurance and a warning to other business-funded parties considering a foray along the globalisation dimension. It is reassuring that the financial flood from Corbyn’s election was greater than the financial drought attributable to Brexit. This suggests that the left-right dimension remains more salient than the globalisation dimension. A pro-business position on the left-right dimension may allow centre-right parties to limit the financial damage from anti-globalisation moves. It is a warning that Brexit would have been a severe financial constraint for the Conservatives if it were not for Labour’s lurch to the left. Other centre-right parties cannot rely on their competitors to be so obliging.


Note: the above was originally published on LSE Brexit and draws on a longer paper by the author, available here.

About the Author

Iain McMenamin is Professor of Comparative Politics and Head of the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University.



Saturday papers – 11 August 2018

Saturday papers – 11 August 2018


It seems the Brexit debate has changed, says the Independent.

The campaign to Remain in the European Union is no longer overwhelmingly seen as the “establishment” movement in the Brexit debate, according to new polling.
The survey by YouGov found that after months of the government negotiating to quit the EU, many British people see
Leave as the establishment movement in the ongoing debate about the UK’s future.
The finding is significant because at the 2016 referendum Leave was bolstered by its image as an anti-establishment crusade, while Remain was hindered by the perception that it was the campaign of the government and business elite.
Leaders of the People’s Vote group, who commissioned the poll, told
The Independent the shift will mark a change in their campaign strategy to more insurgent-style tactics.

Brexit is working, declares the Express.

BRITAIN’S status as a world-leading destination was underlined today by figures showing Heathrow Airport enjoyed the busiest day in its history at the culmination of a record-breaking July.
Airport bosses said the visitor surge was “supercharging” the economy – though action was needed to reduce immigration queues.
It came amid positive UK economic growth figures, including in particular for the building sector.
Richard Tice, co-chair of pro-Brexit group Leave Means Leave, commented: “Britain clearly performing very well despite the apocalyptic predictions made by Remoaners.
“The UK economy continues to thrive and the latest good economic news is that Heathrow airport is absolutely thriving, and that there has been a significant boom in construction output.
“The Remain campaign will say this good news is ‘despite Brexit’.

Conservative Party

Despite the furore over Boris Johnson’s comments, the Mail finds the PM is still popular.

Theresa May has doubled her personal poll lead over Jeremy Corbyn as he faces a barrage of criticism over failing to tackle the anti-Semitism scandal.
And the Tories have overtaken Labour in the polls and now lead by four points despite being hit by its own party in-fighting over the 
Boris Johnson burqa row.
A YouGov poll out today shows that 36 per cent of those surveyed said they think Mrs May makes the best PM – up from 32 points  a week ago.
While Mr Corbyn’s rating have slid from 25 to 22 points over the same period, the survey for The Times newspaper found.

The Express also reports on the poll.

THE Tories have scooped a four point lead in a latest poll as the anti-semitism scandal rocking the Labour Party sends Jeremy Corbyn’s approval rating plummeting to record lows.
The YouGov survey, carried out between Wednesday and Thursday, found 39 percent of people said they would vote for Theresa May’s Conservatives – up one point compared with last week when both parties were on par with one another.
Labour plunged three points, suggesting the deepening anti-semitism scandal among party members has damaged opposition leader Mr Corbyn.
The question of who would make the better prime minister has also seen defiant Mrs May jump ahead by seven points giving her a 14 point lead over Mr Corbyn.

And Westmonster reports UKIP’s fortunes,

The Conservatives are 4 points clear of Labour in the latest YouGov poll – and that’s with UKIP up to 7%.
In a sign of what could happen if the Brexiteer vote was combined, the Tories are on 39% even with UKIP steadily rising back up in the polls.
10% of 2017 Tory voters are currently planning to vote UKIP, including 13% of all Leave voters.
With the Labour Party riven with nasty elements of anti-Semitism, the Tory Party are ahead despite Theresa May’s favourability ratings recently hitting an all-time low.


But there’s still something unpleasant in the woodpile, says Westmonster.

Leave.EU and Westmonster’s Arron Banks has pointed out that a Boris Johnson leadership that united Brexiteers could see the Conservatives “win big”.
Responding to a tweet from Alastair Campbell, Banks wrote: “It’s a weird world where the
Tory leadership are doing the opposite of what a majority of their voters want and Labour the same.
“If the Tories embrace Brexit with Johnson as Leader, they unite the right and let Lib Dems & Labour split the left. Win big…”
The Tories are 4 points ahead of Labour – and that’s with UKIP on 7% and a hugely unpopular Leader and plan in May and Chequers. They could be miles ahead if Boris got the top job.

The Times reports that Tory MPs are not happy,

Conservative MPs have rounded on Brandon Lewis, the party chairman, over the decision to investigate Boris Johnson’s comments about the burka.
Mr Lewis faced a revolt in the MPs’ WhatsApp group as a former leader urged him to call off the preliminary inquiry. He quickly agreed to recuse himself from appointing any investigating panel as he had already condemned Mr Johnson’s comments and urged him to apologise.
On WhatsApp, Zac Goldsmith, the Richmond MP and former London mayoral candidate, praised an article by Munira Mirza, one of Mr Johnson’s former deputy mayors, defending him against his critics.

And the Telegraph claims Boris could be ‘re-educated’.

Boris Johnson could be told to go on a diversity training course instead of facing more severe sanctions for his comments over burkas, The Telegraph has learned.
The former Foreign Secretary is facing a formal investigation by the Conservative Party for
comparing women wearing the burka to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” in an article for The Telegraph.
It has prompted a furious backlash from Tory MPs who accused Brandon Lewis, the chairman of the Conservative Party, of mounting a “witch hunt” and attempting to “kneecap” Mr Johnson.

The Express reports a claim this is all a plot to stop Boris taking the leasdership of the party,

CONSERVATIVE politicians are attacking Boris Johnson through fear the former Foreign Secretary could be about to launch a leadership bid, according to one top Brexiteer politician.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has written in The Daily Telegraph, responding to the backlash against Mr Johnson’s comments about people who wear the burka, which were made in the same newspaper earlier this week.
In Monday’s article, the former Foreign Secretary compared women who wear veils to “bank robbers” and accused them of looking like “letter boxes”.
Mr Rees-Mogg has labelled the outrage in the Tory party as “dubious” and accused his fellow members of trying to undermine a popular member of the party.

BBC News also reports Rees-Mogg’s comments.

A Conservative Party investigation into Boris Johnson is a “show trial” and is being used to stop him becoming leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Tory backbencher blamed Theresa May’s “personal rivalry” with Mr Johnson for “taking the heat off Labour”.
He said it was “hard to see” how Mr Johnson had breached the party’s code.
Mr Johnson sparked a row after describing women in burkas as looking like “letter boxes” or “bank robbers”.
His remarks – in a Daily Telegraph column last week – have been called Islamophobic and the Tory Party received dozens of complaints.

Our leader has slammed the London police boss for her heavy-handed approach to the comment, says Breitbart.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Gerard Batten has criticised London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick for having specialist officers look into whether comparing burqas to letterboxes is a ‘hate crime’.
The initial probing by the Met’s specialist hate crime officers came following comments made by Boris Johnson when he compared the appearance of women wearing the burqa to letterboxes and bank robbers, sparking preliminary investigations by the Conservative Party into whether the Brexit-supporting MP should be disciplined.
Speaking to the BBC’s Asian Network earlier this week, Dick said that “some people have clearly found it offensive” but added that officers had 
deemed that the former two-time Mayor of London “did not commit a criminal offence”.

And Order-Order points out that others have made similar remarks.

You don’t hear the outraged of Twitter going on about the BBC and the Guardian mocking the burka. Stephen Fry made the same joke as Boris on Have I Got News For You, before Ian Hislop and Paul Merton joined in:
Stephen Fry: “I just posted something in that.”
Ian Hislop: “We must stop meeting like this, Camilla.”
Paul Merton: “Prince Charles is surprised when a pint of Guinness looks at him in a funny way.”
This was Polly Toynbee in the Guardian:
Something horrible flits across the background in scenes from Afghanistan, scuttling out of sight. There it is, a brief blue or black flash, a grotesque Scream 1, 2 and 3 personified – a woman. The top-to-toe burka, with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality.

Labour Party

The anti-semitism row rumbles on in the Guardian.

Dave Prentis, the Unison general secretary, has become the second major union boss in two days to call for Labour to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition on antisemitism, arguing that not doing so is costing the party the moral high ground to oppose racial hatred and oppression.
Prentis said the row had become a dangerous distraction for Labour and made it easy for supporters of Boris Johnson 
to wave away criticism of the former foreign secretary’s controversial remarks about fully veiled Muslim women “by saying ‘what about antisemitism in the Labour party?’”

And an ex-minister has also spoken up in the Times,

A former Labour cabinet minister has taken out a full-page advertisement in a Jewish newspaper to lambast Jeremy Corbyn’s “intellectually arrogant, emotionally inept and politically maladroit” approach to the party’s antisemitism crisis.
Jim Murphy, who was Scottish secretary under Gordon Brown and leader of Scottish Labour for seven months in 2014-15, said he had bought the advert in the Jewish Telegraph, a newspaper popular with Jews in Scotland and the north of England, because “I can no longer remain passive while the current Labour leadership does so much damage to Labour’s relationship with British Jewry”.

The Telegraph has dug up an old quote from Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn has likened Israel’s actions in the West Bank to the Second World War Nazi occupation of Europe, a comparison that breaches the international definition of anti-Semitism.
Speaking at the Palestinian Return Centre in 2013, the Labour leader, then a backbench MP, said many would recognise the state of affairs Palestinians were under in the West Bank as being similar to those “who suffered occupation during the Second World War”.
His comments represent a breach of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance [IHRA] definition of 
anti-Semitism that states that, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is racist.

The party is denying the quote, says Sky News.

Jeremy Corbyn is facing fresh accusations of comparing Israelis to the Nazis after a video emerged of the Labour leader claiming actions in the West Bank are like World War Two occupations.
Footage shows Mr Corbyn speaking at an event in which he suggested Palestinians in the West Bank live “under occupation of the very sort that would be recognised by many people in Europe who suffered occupation during the Second World War”.
An internationally-recognised definition and examples of anti-Semitism, which Labour has chosen not to adopt in full, includes drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

The Morning Star also reports on the situation.

FORMER Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy took out a full-page advert in the Jewish Telegraph today to criticise Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership team.
He claimed on Twitter that he used his own money to pay for the advert, which accuses Mr Corbyn’s team of being “intellectually arrogant, emotionally inept and politically maladroit.”
In the advert, titled In sorrow and anger – an apology, Mr Murphy accuses the leadership of “doing so much damage to Labour’s relationship with British Jewry.”


BBC News has a story about the leadership of the principality’s assembly.

A controversial UKIP member of the Welsh Assembly has won a three-way battle to lead the party in the Senedd.
Gareth Bennett has blamed immigrants for rubbish in Cardiff, and claimed transgender people undermined society by their “deviation from the norm”.
He becomes the fourth leader of UKIP in Wales since the 2016 assembly election.
Runner-up Neil Hamilton said he could “happily” work with Mr Bennett, but outgoing leader Caroline Jones said she had “a lot of thinking to do”.
UKIP leader Gerard Batten said he now expected his Welsh Assembly members to “work together for UKIP’s cause and get on with the job.”


The Express carries an idea by a former Tory leader,

IAIN Duncan Smith put forward his proposal to ensure Britain has a fully functional immigration system in place following Brexit, suggesting EU citizens should be required to have a job lined up in the UK before moving.
Former Tory leader and Brexit supporter Iain Duncan Smith suggested the UK could “extend the work permit process” after Brexit to ensure Britain has an effective immigration system.
A report from the powerful Commons Home Affairs committee has seen MPs from both sides of the debate unite over criticising the vacuum in government policy on the crucial issue.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Duncan Smith put forward his proposal: “I think the best thing to do is work with what we have got and make it work for everyone around the world.

And the CBI is also talking tough, says the Express.

BRITAIN should kick out EU citizens who come arrive in the country after Brexit if they have not began contributing to the economy within three months, say business chiefs.
The Confederation of British Industry has urged Government to ensure those who are not “working, studying or self-sufficient” are made to leave.
The business lobby group, the largest in Britain, has backed maintaining close ties between the nation and the European Union.
But the group’s leaders are demanding an overhaul of UK immigration including scrapping targets.


Meanwhile, NHS staff who thought they’d got a pay rise could be disappointed says the Mirror.

Thousands of NHS staff will find themselves worse off despite the recent pay rise due to a little-known problem with their pensions, experts warned today.
Royal London said some staff will lose out because as they make more money, their pension contribution suddenly jumps up.

NHS guidelines show the contribution changes from 7.1% to 9.3% once pay rises above £26,824.
“This more than wipes out the value of the pay increase,” the pension firm warned.
Policy director and former Coalition minister Steve Webb said: “After nearly a decade of pay squeezes, millions of public sector workers will have hoped and expected to see a meaningful pay rise this year.


Bowel cancer screening is to change, says the Times.

The screening age for bowel cancer will be lowered to 50 following recommendations from Public Health England.
An independent expert screening committee from PHE recommended starting screenings for bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, ten years earlier than the present age of 60.
The move will bring England in line with Scotland who have already lowered the screening age.
In England, men and women aged 60-74 are now invited for a screening and are sent a home test kit every two years to provide stool samples.
The review found that lowering the screening age would improve survival rates by enabling more bowel cancers to be spotted at an earlier stage where treatment is likely to be more effective.

Sky News also has the story.

Bowel cancer screening in England will be brought forward 10 years to begin at the age of 50.
The government has agreed with the recommendation of an independent expert committee to reduce the age at which men and women are invited for bowel screening.
Currently, only those aged 60 to 74 are sent a home test kit every two years to provide stool samples.
The move follows calls by high-profile bowel cancer sufferers, such as former health secretary
Lord Lansley and BBC newsreader George Alagiah, to improve screening programmes.
In Scotland, like a number of other countries around the world, the screening age is already at 50.


An outspoken council leader could be in trouble, reports the Mirror.

A Tory council leader has provoked a backlash after branding Travellers “parasites” who cause “misery and mayhem”.
Theresa May faced demands to “take action” against Mike Bird as he made the comments just months after taking the helm of Walsall Council.
Today he stood by the remarks he made on a radio phone-in – denying he was inflaming tensions and accusing travellers of leaving “human faeces” and thousands of pounds in damage.
As revealed by the Birmingham Mail, he told a radio station: “The ones I have come across are a lawless society – they have no respect whatsoever for our community.


The Star has a UFO conspiracy story.

BRIT ufologist Max Spiers’s laptop was wiped after he vomited two litres of black liquid and died, according to authorities.
The 39-year-old UFO expert was attending a conference in Poland in 2016 when he suddenly died.
Before he died, Max, from Canterbury, Kent, sent a worrying message to his mum, Vanessa Bates, which said: “You’re (sic) boy is in trouble, if anything happens to me, investigate.”
He was found on a sofa while staying with sci-fi writer, Monika Duvall.
Following the shock death, Polish authorities ruled the dad-of-two has died from natural causes.
But at a pre-inquest review in Sandwich, Kent, heard how the contents of Max’s SIM card were of particular interest.

The Sun has picked up the tale.

A BRITISH UFO hunter who died after vomiting two litres of black liquid had his laptop wiped by authorities before it was returned to his family, a court today heard.
Mystery has shrouded the sudden death of Max Spiers, 39, of Canterbury, Kent, who was in Poland for a conference in July 2016 when his body was discovered by a friend.
Polish authorities concluded he died of natural causes, but his mum says he sent her a text days before he died instructing her to “investigate” should anything happen to him.
Finally, more than two years after his death an inquest date has been set and is likely to be held over four days in January 2019.
A pre-inquest review at Guildhall in Sandwich, Kent, today heard that the contents of the dad-of-two’s laptop and a mobile phone will be analysed.

The post Saturday papers – 11 August 2018 appeared first on UKIP Daily | UKIP News | UKIP Debate.

A five-year moratorium on Brexit is needed to allow the UK and the EU to fully get to grips with the process

The UK is set to leave the EU in March next year, but many of the key issues remain unresolved and there is now perceived to be a very real prospect of the country leaving without a deal in place. For Helmut K Anheier, the answer is not a second referendum given another vote would do little to resolve the division that currently exists in the UK over Brexit. Rather, he proposes a moratorium on Brexit, lasting up to five years, which would allow both the UK and the EU to fully get to grips with the process.

“Ungovernability” is a term not usually synonymous with the well-oiled administrative machinery of the UK state. In governance capacity rankings, it is usually among the world’s top ten, alongside Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. But with a mere eight months to go before Brexit, the colossal task of rolling back 45 years of European integration, building new partnerships still both contested and unclear, and the attendant political uncertainty are straining capacities at Whitehall. The recent turmoil of resignations over the Prime Minister’s soft-Brexit “Chequers” deal is just the latest symptom, and the growing battle about the government´s White Paper another.

Popularised by social scientists like Samuel Huntington and Jürgen Habermas to describe over-stretched welfare states, ungovernability happens when institutions invite problems that become impossible to process in an orderly and routinised way. This self-generated demand overload is precisely the plight arising from current Brexit negotiations.

Since the ill-fated 2016 referendum, things have not gone well. The UK and Europe now face a precarious, even dangerous, situation in unknown territory. The UK is in a deep political crisis, unable to steer the course, and a Brexit gone wrong will be disastrous for all. As any sensible bureaucrat can see, “keep calm and carry on” is not the mantra to follow right now. Instead, the EU and its member states must reach out to the United Kingdom with an offer: let´s put a moratorium on the current Brexit process. Let´s review where we are, what´s gone wrong, and how we can put things right. There is nothing sacred about 30 March 2019, and it can be changed.

The peculiar ways of British governance

Ever since Article 50 was invoked, the UK’s negotiating position has become ever more constricted and its machinery ever more overloaded. But don’t blame Brussels and the hardline stance of its chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Instead, look to the peculiar ways of British governance: a parliamentary authority that invites continued bickering between a pro-Brexit government and a pro-remain parliament; the uncodified British constitution, which fails to elucidate which parliamentary majorities are required for major political decision like the Withdrawal Bill; and a tradition of internal party dissent and cross-bench deals that hamper unity and challenge the skill of any prime minister. These are stoking domestic uncertainty at a time when stability is sorely needed.

In essence, the UK has a divided public, divided parties, a divided government, and a civil service unsure of what to do before and after March. A political stalemate looms, with all the added unpredictability and implied injustices, such as the disproportionate influence of Northern Ireland’s pro-Brexit DUP in Theresa May’s government, which shows little regard for the country’s “remain” vote. A population highly affected by Brexit is thus disenfranchised, while continued peace in Northern Ireland depends on how the Irish border problem is solved or at least managed. In another twist, the only incentive for many senior members of the government to support the Chequers agreement and the White Paper is the fear of a Labour Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn. Not being able to win is now preferable to losing.

Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May and Angela Merkel, Credit: Number 10 (Crown Copyright)

An impossible deadline for disentanglement

For the administration, implementing the multitude of technical changes to disentangle the UK from EU rules and regulations will be impossible by mid-March. The Withdrawal Bill cannot handle the detail needed to unscramble 45 years of EU membership. This will leave many issues unresolved for some time – probably years – to come, and only uncertainty will prevail.

For the UK civil service, the issue is far greater than time pressure alone. It is the contestation that comes with ungovernability. As the sociologist Claus Offe once remarked, popular expectations, not efficiency considerations, decide what is ungovernable and what is not. The hard-Brexiteers want clear declarations of separation to prevent back-peddling and ambiguity once the country has left, while the soft-Brexiteers favour vague statements to keep options open.

This is the crux of ungovernability: normative components are a cog in the machinery of Whitehall, spreading uncertainty about what is accepted by whom and by when. The UK Exit department is in overdrive, but political directives are murky and shifting.

But why should the Commission care? The UK asked to leave, now faces a political mess, and is in denial about its prospects. Of course, this is a simplistic view, but the EU’s negotiating position is nonetheless correct: no country can leave the Union and end up better off outside than in. No country can cherry-pick and cut bilateral deals while still a member. At the same time, the EU should have a keen interest in mitigating the damage for all.

Interest wanes in the EU

It doesn’t help that the EU has moved on. Trump´s trade wars, illiberalism and nationalism have captured the public’s attention, and the people of Europe have accepted that the UK can and will leave. Cornish fisherman, Sunderland auto workers or City bankers are not among their concerns.

Positions have hardened. UK citizens, fed by an anti-European press, feel increasingly mistreated, even punished, by the EU. The Commission and popular opinion in Europe are increasingly indifferent and puzzled by what they see as Britain’s desire to have its cake and eat it too.

How can we handle such emotional responses amid growing nationalism and a persistent and deepening problem of ungovernability? In Britain, no major political reform effort other than Brexit has been undertaken for several years. Domestic politics are flagging and austerity measures continue – yet was it not the promise of more domestic spending that convinced many to vote “leave”? The country is entirely occupied, even paralysed, by Brexit, and has become increasingly self-centred. The danger is not that the UK and the EU will become strangers; more likely, they will become more like neighbours who misunderstand each other the more the gap between them widens.

The answer is certainly not a second referendum. It is not clear what this would achieve, as the country would remain divided, and, given the current domestic situation, this could invite even more political brinkmanship.

A five-year moratorium

A moratorium is one way forward, assuming the current UK government holds. If Brexit happens, let´s get it right. The EU should offer the UK a moratorium of up to five years, during which it will remain a member with full rights and obligations. The advantages are many. For one, it will span two UK governments, two EU Commissions, and two European Parliaments. This will bolster the legitimacy of the 2016 referendum, the process and the outcome. It will give businesses at least a medium-term perspective and allow for wiser investment decisions. It will give the millions of UK citizens living in mainland Europe and the millions of Europeans living in the UK the stability they need. And it will give the administrators and legal experts in Whitehall and Brussels the room they need to separate from each other in an orderly and routinised way.

It would also create an opportunity for honesty. The honesty to tell the British people, for example, that the promised funds for the NHS will never come, to help them understand that old-fashioned sovereignty comes at a price and requires sacrifice – economically, politically, culturally. They need time to prepare for a world that is not waiting for a “Global Britain,” and to understand that illiberal regimes and autocracies are all too eager to take advantage of a relatively isolated country.

On the flipside, Europeans need to hear that Brussels has frequently over-stepped its bounds and alienated many; that its technocratic approach to deeply political problems can threaten people´s identities, and that its ways and means, especially the democratically unchecked role of the European Court of Justice, continues to undermine the legitimacy of national parliaments.

Of course, many will question such a proposal. Hard Brexiteers will see it as way to undo Brexit by stealth – yet no majority in government and parliament backs them anyway. Soft Brexiteers will view the moratorium with suspicion on the same grounds but should soon realise the advantages a well-prepared Brexit could hold. The Commission may baulk at dragging the process out even longer, given its many other pressures, but should welcome a more depoliticised process and more measured pace.

Yet all parties should come to terms with an outcome that seems ever more likely: Brexit will have few winners but many losers in the UK as well as in Europe. No good has come of it so far, and any longer-term benefits are uncertain. The world has become a more hostile place since the referendum in 2016, and neither the UK nor the EU alone can make it better, and certainly not in haste.

This article gives the views of the author, not the position of LSE Brexit or the London School of Economics. This article first appeared on our sister site EUROPP – European Politics and Policy.

Helmut K. Anheier is a Professor of Sociology and President of the Hertie School of Governance, and a Visiting Professor at LSE IDEAS.

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