Tag Archives: Law

Article 50 could be reversed, government may argue in Brexit case

Interesting. So we can leave then change our minds?
This should be fun then.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Article 50 could be reversed, government may argue in Brexit case” was written by Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent, for The Guardian on Saturday 12th November 2016 06.40 UTC

Government lawyers are exploring the possibility of arguing in the supreme court that the article 50 process could be reversed by parliament at any time before the UK completes its exit from the European Union.

Prominent academic experts have told the Guardian they know the government’s legal team has sounded out lawyers about the potential change of tack, which some argue would lead to a victory in the case brought by Gina Miller and other campaigners.

Prof Takis Tridimas, an expert in EU law at King’s College London, said: “I know that the issue of revocation is a live issue in terms of the supreme court hearing.” He had heard that the government had commissioned research on the subject, he said.

Earlier this month, the high court ruled that the government could only invoke article 50, which begins the EU exit process, through a parliamentary vote. The case was decided on the basis that, once article 50 was triggered it was irreversible and British citizens would inevitably lose rights granted through the 1972 European Communities Act.

Royal prerogative powers – the government’s executive authority – cannot be used to repeal rights granted by parliament, the three high court judges concluded in their ruling, which was sharply criticised by several tabloid newspapers, including the Daily Mail which described the judges as “Enemies of the People”.

If the government argued that MPs could vote to revoke article 50 during the exit negotiation period, some academics say, the outcome of the government’s appeal to the supreme court would be different, because it would imply that the sovereignty of parliament had not been removed.

Dr Eirik Bjorge, a senior law lecturer at Bristol University and an expert in EU law, said: “If the government decides to – and is allowed to – argue that the article 50 notice can be revoked, then it is all but sure to win in the supreme court. In those circumstances it cannot be said that, once the trigger has been pulled, the bullet will inexorably hit the target and expunge our rights under the European Communities Act 1972.”

   <figure class="element element-video element--supporting" data-canonical-url="https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/jun/29/what-is-article-50-brexit-video-explainer" data-short-url="https://gu.com/p/4mqd2" data-show-ads="true" data-video-id="2578097" data-video-name="What is article 50? – video explainer" data-video-provider="guardian.co.uk"> <video data-media-id="gu-video-577251eee4b030d83eb4b037" class="gu-video" controls="controls" poster="">  </video> <figcaption><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/jun/29/what-is-article-50-brexit-video-explainer">What is article 50?</a></figcaption> </figure>   <p>Tridimas is one of those who believes the article 50 process could be reversed before the UK’s exit from the EU had been completed. “My view is that it is reversible,” he said. “There’s nothing in the wording of article 50 which says that it cannot be withdrawn. The Vienna convention on the law of treaties says that they can be reversed unless they state otherwise. The point of no return is two years after notification has been given [to the EU].”</p> <p>Prof Paul Craig, an Oxford University expert on both EU and constitutional law, said the triggering of article 50 should be revocable by parliament. “It is a cardinal legal principle that a party is not bound by a contract or treaty until agreement has been reached,” he has argued in a blogpost. “The consequences of not being able to revoke would be particularly severe: withdrawal would have to proceed even if invocation of article 50 triggered an economic meltdown in the country.”</p> <p>However, Craig said, enabling parliament to give its approval at an early stage might have dangerous consequences for democracy later on: “There is a deeper paradox in this litigation.” <br></p> <p>He said the claimants, who he said would like Britain to remain in the EU, were “willing to risk everything for some parliamentary voice at the trigger stage”, but this could result in a decisive parliamentary vote to invoke article 50, which would be difficult to undo subsequently.</p> <p>“The government wishes to exit the EU. It conceded the article 50 point knowing that it might then lose the immediate battle, and would therefore have to seek parliamentary approval, but was confident enough that this would be forthcoming, and that thereafter the war was won, since the triggering, once done, was irrevocable.”</p> <p>The government has already submitted its initial grounds for appeal at the supreme court. The papers do not indicate any shift of emphasis so far in the way the case will be presented, although it is possible that could change before the hearing in December.</p> <p>A government spokesman said: “Our position is clear: the country voted to leave the EU and we will respect the will of the British people. The government told the high court that as a matter of firm policy, once given, the article 50 notice would not be withdrawn. Because legal proceedings are under way it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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The Guardian view: Britain needs a new direction, Britain needs Labour

Fingers crossed that we can move forward. 


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “The Guardian view: Britain needs a new direction, Britain needs Labour” was written by Editorial, for The Guardian on Friday 1st May 2015 12.15 UTC

The campaign is nearly over and it is time to choose. We believe Britain needs a new direction. At home, the economic recovery is only fragile, while social cohesion is threatened by the unequal impact of the financial crisis and the continuing attempt to shrink the postwar state. Abroad, Britain remains traumatised by its wars, and, like our neighbours, is spooked by Vladimir Putin, the rise of jihadist terrorism and by mounting migratory pressures. In parts of Britain, nationalist and religious identities are threatening older solidarities, while privacy and freedom sometimes feel under siege, even as we mark 800 years since Magna Carta. More people in Britain are leading longer, healthier and more satisfying lives than ever before – yet too many of those lives feel stressed in ways to which politics struggles to respond, much less to shape.

This is the context in which we must judge the record of the outgoing coalition and the choices on offer to voters on 7 May. Five years ago, Labour was exhausted and conflicted, amid disenchantment over war, recession and Gordon Brown’s leadership. The country was ready for a change, one we hoped would see a greatly strengthened Liberal Democrat presence in parliament combine with the core Labour tradition to reform politics after the expenses scandal. That did not happen. Instead the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have governed together for five difficult years.

That experiment has clearly run its course. The outgoing government proved that coalitions can function, which is important, and it can be proud of its achievements on equal marriage and foreign aid. But its record, as our recent series of editorials on detailed themes has shown, is dominated by an initial decision to pursue a needless and disastrous fiscal rigidity. That turned into a moral failure, by insisting on making the neediest and the least secure pay the highest price for an economic and financial crash that they did not cause. The evidence is there in the one million annual visits to foodbanks, a shocking figure in what is, still, a wealthy country.

David Cameron has been an increasingly weak prime minister. On issues such as Europe, the integrity of the United Kingdom, climate change, human rights and the spread of the low-wage economy, he has been content to lead the Tories back towards their nastiest and most Thatcherite comfort zones. All this is particularly disappointing after the promise of change that Mr Cameron once embodied.

The union at risk

The Conservative campaign has redoubled all this. Economically, the party offers more of the same, prioritising public-sector austerity which will worsen life for the most needy – imposing £12bn of largely unspecified welfare cuts – while doing little to ensure the rich and comfortable pay a fair share. Internationally, the party is set on a referendum over Europe which many of its activists hope will end in UK withdrawal. It’s also set on an isolationist abandonment of British commitment to international human rights conventions and norms, outcomes which this newspaper – unlike most others – will always do all in its power to oppose. At the same time, the Tories go out of their way to alienate Scotland and put the UK at risk. The two are related: if a 2017 referendum did result in a British exit from the EU, it could trigger a fresh and powerful demand for a Scottish exit from the UK. The Conservative campaign has been one of the tawdriest in decades.

The overriding priority on 7 May is therefore, first, to stop the Conservatives from returning to government and, second, to put a viable alternative in their place. For many decades, this newspaper’s guiding star has been the formulation offered by John Maynard Keynes in a speech in Manchester in 1926: “The political problem of mankind is to combine three things: economic efficiency, social justice and individual liberty.” The task on 7 May is to elect the parliament and government that will come closest to passing Keynes’s triple test.

Some despair of the whole system, believing a model created for two-party politics is now exhausted, failing to give adequate expression to the diverse society we have become. We are hardly newcomers to that view: we have demanded electoral reform for a century and believe that demand will find new vigour on 8 May. But for now, this is the voting system we’ve got. How should we use it?

To the charge that they enabled a government whose record we reject, the Liberal Democrats would plead that they made a difference, mitigating and blocking on issues such as Europe, the environment, child benefit and human rights, without which things would have been worse. That adds weight to the view that the next Commons would be enhanced by the presence of Lib Dem MPs to insist on the political reform and civil liberties agendas – as they did, almost alone, over Edward Snowden’s revelations. Similarly, it would be good to hear Green voices in Westminster to press further on climate change and sustainability. Where the real constituency choice is between these parties and the Conservatives, as it is between the Lib Dems and the Tories in the south-west, we support a vote for them. But they are not the answer.

In Scotland, politics is going through a cultural revolution. The energy and engagement on show are formidable – and welcome. The level of registration is an example to the rest of Britain. If the polls are right, and the SNP is returned as Scotland’s majority party, we must respect that choice – and would expect all parties that believe in the union, and the equal legitimacy of all its citizens, to do the same. We do that even as we maintain our view that, whatever myriad problems the peoples of these islands face, the solution is not nationalism. Breaking apart is not the answer: not in Europe and not in the UK. We still believe that the union rests on something precious – the social and economic solidarity of four distinct nations – and that is to be nurtured and strengthened, not turned against itself.

A sense of what is just

Which brings us to Labour. There have been times when a Labour vote has been, at best, a pragmatic choice – something to be undertaken without enthusiasm. This is not such a time. Of course there are misgivings. The party has some bad instincts – on civil liberties, penal policy and on Trident, about which it is too inflexible. Questions linger over Ed Miliband’s leadership, and whether he has that elusive quality that inspires others to follow.

But Mr Miliband has grown in this campaign. He may not have stardust or TV-ready charisma, but those are qualities that can be overvalued. He has resilience and, above all, a strong sense of what is just. Mr Miliband understood early one of the central questions of the age: inequality. While most Tories shrug at that yawning gap between rich and poor, Labour will at least strive to slow and even reverse the three-decade march towards an obscenely unequal society. It is Labour that speaks with more urgency than its rivals on social justice, standing up to predatory capitalism, on investment for growth, on reforming and strengthening the public realm, Britain’s place in Europe and international development – and which has a record in government that it can be more proud of than it sometimes lets on.

In each area, Labour could go further and be bolder. But the contrast between them and the Conservatives is sharp. While Labour would repeal the bedroom tax, the Tories are set on those £12bn of cuts to social security, cuts that will have a concrete and painful impact on real lives. Even if they don’t affect you, they will affect your disabled neighbour, reliant on a vital service that suddenly gets slashed, or the woman down the street, already working an exhausting double shift and still not able to feed her children without the help of benefits that are about to be squeezed yet further. For those people, and for many others, a Labour government can make a very big difference.

This newspaper has never been a cheerleader for the Labour party. We are not now. But our view is clear. Labour provides the best hope for starting to tackle the turbulent issues facing us. On 7 May, as this country makes a profound decision about its future, we hope Britain turns to Labour.

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The Guardian view on zero-hours: the number that keeps getting bigger

Well for me  in my particular circumstances I can see that some zero hours contracts might work.  However for most folk they are not a good thing  and should not be used to replace more secure working arrangements.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “The Guardian view on zero-hours: the number that keeps getting bigger” was written by Editorial, for The Guardian on Wednesday 25th February 2015 20.07 UTC

Let’s not be sour. The bounceback in jobs during the current recovery has been staggering – exceeding all predictions. During the depths of the slump too, although things were dreadful, the UK shed far fewer posts than any of the macroeconomic models suggested. Whereas in the past there had been something close to a one-for-one proportional relation between lost jobs and lost output, for every three percentage points of GDP that disappeared after 2008, only 1% of jobs went up in smoke.

But let’s not be blinkered either. If there is reason to be cheerful in the quantity of jobs in a famously flexible labour market, there is reason to be fearful when it comes to the quality. Underemployment, perma-temping and the recasting of low-grade staffers as “self-employed” hires shorn of all rights were striking features of working life in the recession, and all trends that have been stubbornly slow to reverse in the recovery. That much is reaffirmed every month when the official labour market statistics appear. Nothing, however, sums up the pall of insecurity that has befallen so much of the workforce like zero-hours contracts. We can’t map the numbers over long years in this case, because – until recently – the arrangement was still so exotic that no proper figures were collated. Slowly but surely, however, the information gap is being filled and, in every new droplet of data, zero emerges as the number that keeps getting bigger.

At the dawn of the slump it was estimated that there were fewer than 200,000 “jobs” without guaranteed hours. Since then much has changed – the term “zero hours” has gained currency, definitions have changed, and new data sources have been tapped to tally up the individual workers affected, recognising that some will rely on multiple jobs. But through all the refinements and seasonal blips that might colour the figures, there has been only one trend. The Office for National Statistics reported on Wednesday that there were 1.8m zero-hour contracts, and 697,000 zero-hours workers, both numbers that have been climbing fast.

Not every no-strings contract represents exploitation, it’s true, but too many do. While there are a few professionals happy to put in a well-paid hour on an as-and-when-needed basis, the ONS confirmed that the real zero-hours boom is in pubs, hotels and restaurants, sectors where low pay is rampant. While some big zero-hours groups, such as students, may be content to avoid fixed weekly commitments, it is dismaying to learn that it is mostly women who are working with zero security. A sharp rise in zero-hours workers of two to five years’ standing confirms that this way of doing business is becoming not only more widespread but also more entrenched.

After much delay, the coalition talks about banning the most abusive contracts, which actually bar staff from seeking employment with anyone else while they hang around waiting for shifts that may not come their way. It may be a start, but it’s not enough. At the very least, zero-hours workers must be given – as Labour proposes – a right to demand steady hours after six months.

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Suicide prevention expert pulls out of prisons talk over ‘censorship’

Sadly not surprising to hear this.   


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Suicide prevention expert pulls out of prisons talk over ‘censorship'” was written by Alan Travis, home affairs editor, for The Guardian on Monday 23rd February 2015 14.40 UTC

The government’s leading expert on suicide prevention has pulled out of a Ministry of Justice presentation on the rising number of suicides in prisons after being told, he says, not to make any link with falling staff numbers.

Prof Louis Appleby, who oversees the implementation of the national cross-government strategy for suicide prevention, was due to speak at the justice ministry’s “independent ministerial board” on prison suicides on Monday.

Several members of the independent board voiced their concern after Appleby, who is the national clinical director of health and justice, made public his decision on Twitter.

Deborah Coles, the co-director of Inquest, which works with families of those who die in custody, reacted by saying it was outrageous that the MoJ was trying to “gag” Appleby from making a link between a rise in prison suicides and staffing cuts.

The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, also protested: “If these reports are true, this is censorship – plain and simple,” he said.

“Ministers can’t tell a leading expert what he can and can’t say just because the truth is unpalatable. We need an honest assessment of what is driving the surge in suicides and violence in jails under this government.

“The truth is Chris Grayling refuses to acknowledge there is a prisons crisis, and will do anything he can to avoid hearing the truth about just how terrible an impact his policies have had on our jails.”

Whitehall sources suggest Appleby’s decision may have been based on a misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

They stress that the independent ministerial board, which is chaired by a Labour peer, Lord Toby Harris, and has in its membership Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform and Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust, has repeatedly discussed a possible link between suicides and prison staffing levels.

The board’s secretariat is provided by a seconded member of the justice ministry’s national offender management service and is understood to have requested Appleby keep his presentation focused on the wider aspects of the issue over which he has been an expert for more than 20 years.

The number of suicides in prisons in England and Wales has risen to its highest level for seven years with 84 self-inflicted deaths recorded in 2014 – a rise of 45% over the last four years.

Prison service staffing numbers have fallen from 45,080 in March 2010 to 32,280 in December 2014, a fall of 13,800 or 28%. After spending £56m on redundancy costs the justice ministry wrote to 2,000 former prison officers last summer asking them to join a prison service reserve on fixed-term contracts of up to nine months to help fill specific shortages.

The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has repeatedly voiced concern at the rising suicide rates in prison and has set up the independent ministerial group to look into the causes. He has also announced his intention to make the question of mental health in prisons a priority.

But he has also insisted that there is no direct link between staffing levels and the rising suicide rate. In December he told MPs there there were sometimes “upward ticks in the suicide rate for which there is no obvious explanation”.

The justice ministry has tried to establish common factors among the self-inflicted deaths. Grayling says the work has not shown any difference in the suicide rates between prisons where there have been staff reductions and those where there have been none. He has suggested that the rising suicide rate among young men in general compared with a generation ago may be one factor in a complex picture.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The whole rationale behind the ministerial board is to help us to deal more effectively with the risk of deaths in custody. It is absolutely wrong to suggest there is any sort of censorship.

“No discussions are off limits, and claiming otherwise simply detracts from the efforts to understand the complexities that lie behind this difficult and sensitive issue.”

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