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Updated: 5 hours 9 min ago

113 MPs accuse Johnson of “fascism” and demand the recall of Parliament

15 hours 20 min ago

In a two page letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson, 113 MPs from across the parties have accused him of deploying the language of “fascism”. Their prime concern was the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. They demand the recall of parliament. This follows speculation, reported by The Canary, that the Johnson-led government could crash out of the EU before parliament returns from the summer recess.The letter

On the first page of the letter, the MPs get straight to the point and demand an immediate recall of parliament. They quote a number of precedents that allow for recall.

Strong language

On the second page, the MPs accuse Johnson of not respecting parliamentary democracy and adopting populism.

They also referred to the “discredited rhetoric of the Leave campaign”. This rhetoric includes the exaggerations and downright lies disseminated by Vote Leave, the campaign group which Johnson fronted. The Canary published examples of these lies.

And the MPs go even further in their criticism of Johnson, accusing him of using the language of fascism and authoritarianism in his denigration of his Brexit critics.

The letter also criticised Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings, who is concerned largely with Brexit and its implications.

The letter from the MPs concludes:

We face a national emergency, and Parliament must be recalled now in August and sit permanently until 31 October.

Rebels MPs

A third page lists all the MPs who signed the letter:

Sneaky plot

Earlier in August, The Canary reported how Cummings boasted:

[MPs] don’t realise that if there is a no-confidence vote in September or October, we’ll call an election for after the 31st and leave anyway.

And on 17 August, The Canary reported on a plan, outlined by Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, for the Johnson government to circumvent a vote of no confidence. The plan would see the UK exit the EU by 24 Aug, as an act of unilateral withdrawal.

No deal disaster

A no-deal Brexit is seemingly Johnson’s “central scenario”, and according to one diplomat, “Even if EU gave up the backstop there is no alternative [to no-deal]”. No-deal will likely bring about economic disaster, with a huge fall in the pound, panic buying, business closures, and possibly civil unrest.

And cabinet secretary and national security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill has argued that if the UK left the EU without a deal then a recession is likely as well as a fall in sterling. According to Sedwill, food costs would rise by 10%. Some stores and supermarkets are already working with police if no deal goes ahead and leads to protests, looting, or rioting.

On 14 August, The Canary published details of a cross-party parliamentary reportThe consequences of “No Deal” for UK business. It concluded that no-deal Brexit:

could lead to severe disruption of the economy, pose a fundamental risk to the competitiveness of key sectors of the UK economy, and put many jobs and livelihoods at risk.

The letter from the 113 MPs coincided with the publication by the Sunday Times of a leaked Cabinet Office report, marked ‘official sensitive’. It outlined a worst case scenario for no deal Brexit.

According to Sky News, the report made it clear that a no-deal Brexit could lead to shortages of food, fuel and medicine, as well as a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A senior Whitehall source said:

This is not project fear – this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no-deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.

Operation Black Swan

The Sunday Times reported that worst case scenario planning is referred to as “Black Swan”. The black swan reference originates from a book by risk analyst Nassim Taleb. The Black Swan planning comes under Operation Yellowhammer, the main contingency planning operation.

Yellowhammer covers 12 risk areas (source: Cabinet Office via the Guardian):

War footing

In March 2019, the Ministry of Defence announced that under the auspices of ‘Operation Redfold’, around 3,500 military personnel would be readied for deployment in the event of no-deal. The plan also included the deployment of several hundred reservists. The operation would be run by the Defence Crisis Management Centre, headquartered in a nuclear-proof bunker, known as Pindar, in Whitehall.

More than 10,000 riot police are also prepared to intervene in riots and other disturbances and ready for “worst-case scenarios”. Of those officers earmarked for deployment, 1,000 are trained in the use of armoured vehicles and water cannons.

Rebellion

But despite these threats by the Johnson gang, there are signs of rebellion.

The 113 MPs who signed the letter to Johnson didn’t mince their words. Indeed, the language in the letter is probably unprecedented in its tone.

But the next step in this rebellion could involve far more than a letter by parliamentarians. For if the worst scenario takes place, there are people’s livelihoods, if not lives, at stake.

Featured image via screengrab

By Tom Coburg

As ordinary people continue to suffer, Corbyn pledges to end influence of ‘big donors’ on politics

Sun, 2019-08-18 23:50

Poverty among elderly people in Tory Britain is currently sky high. But as ordinary citizens continue to suffer, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that his party is working on a “comprehensive plan to stop big money buying up our democracy, and to empower people and communities”.

Labour pledges to ban political contributions from tax avoiders

Speaking at a rally in Bolton on 17 August, Corbyn said:

Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party are captured by big donors, who are corrupting democracy.

And he insisted:

We have to stop the influx of big money into politics. Politics should work for the millions, not the millionaires.

He continued by stressing:

We are funded by workers through their trade unions and small donations, averaging just £22 in the last general election.

That’s why we will be able to drive big money out of our democracy….

So today, I’m announcing that we will ban donations or loans to political parties from people who are not registered for tax in the UK, so are not contributing to our public services and infrastructure.

We have to stop big money running our politics.

Labour will ban donations to political parties from anyone not registered to pay tax in the UK.

If you don't want to contribute to our public services, you shouldn't be able to influence our democracy.https://t.co/E4CCBBSOfr

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 18, 2019

Big money in politics is corrupting our democracy. That's why @jeremycorbyn has announced that we will ban donations from those who avoid tax. I'll be setting out our vision to clean up politics with further measures shortly. https://t.co/EOGZHIXZL5

— Jon Trickett (@jon_trickett) August 18, 2019

Tories serve the rich and leave the poor behind

On 18 August, the Observer quoted University of Oxford professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus talking about “relatively high severe poverty rates among the elderly” in the UK. He also said:

The lowest poverty rates among older people are found in the relatively generous Dutch basic pensions and Nordic welfare states, while the UK, but also Ireland and Switzerland, with basic old-age security, had the highest poverty rates.

The proportion of elderly people living in severe poverty in the UK is five times what it was in 1986, the largest increase among western European countries. Neoliberalism, austerity, income/wealth inequalities, low pay take their toll. https://t.co/MZyd5IyK8F

— Prem Sikka (@premnsikka) August 18, 2019

Meanwhile, a thinktank chaired by Iain Duncan Smith is calling for further increases in the pension age. According to the Mirror, the rightwing Centre for Social Justice “proposes raising the eligible age to 70 by 2028 and 75 by 2035”. And as some people pointed out, this would mean people in some areas of the UK would die before collecting their pensions:

This morning’s front page suggests the Tories are planning to raise the retirement age to 75. For many parts of northern England, Scotland & N. Ireland this means that an increasing number of men, in particular, won’t survive to collect their pension. pic.twitter.com/eOLlKRnJjW

— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) August 18, 2019

The Tory dream: to raise the pension age at the same time as lowering life expectancy till eventually working people get no retirement at all. pic.twitter.com/wErfiuVqEX

— David Schneider (@davidschneider) August 18, 2019

The Tories have plunged millions into poverty, sent millions to food banks, resurrected Victorian diseases & reduced our life expectancy & now they want us to work until we are dead. The nation must rise up against this insanity https://t.co/8Zzmr9zf7C

— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) August 17, 2019

Get big money out of politics

Time after time, we see the Conservative Party serving the rich and powerful while leaving ordinary people to suffer. And when it’s the wealthy who prop the Tories up, that’s no surprise. Labour, meanwhile, is “funded by workers” – and it has its biggest membership since the 1970s.

Corbyn’s pledge to “stop the influx of big money into politics” could see a radical shift in British politics. And for all the ordinary people who continue to suffer under Tory rule, that couldn’t come soon enough.

Featured image via screenshot

By Ed Sykes

Former Tory minister calls for a general election as government ‘no deal’ analysis predicts disaster

Sun, 2019-08-18 23:14

On 18 August, a former Conservative Party minister stressed that a general election is the best way to break the parliamentary “logjam” over Brexit.

This came as the Sunday Times published leaked government documents showing (yet again) that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a lack of food and medicine. As a senior source at Whitehall told the paper:

this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no-deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.

‘If Johnson can’t persuade MPs to back a no-deal Brexit, he should call a general election’

Malcolm Rifkind, who was a Conservative minister in the 1990s, told the Ridge on Sunday programme:

it’s perfectly legitimate for Boris Johnson to say, ‘I think no-deal is in the public interest’. That’s the government’s judgement. But they have to persuade members of parliament. If they can’t persuade them, then there is a logjam. How do you resolve that logjam if you’re a parliamentary democracy? You appeal, ultimately, to the electorate through a general election.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind says enough Tory MPs "might" vote against Boris Johnson in a no-confidence vote.

He adds there only needs to be "a small number" who rebel and "it seems likely the numbers are there".

Follow #Ridge here: https://t.co/9cCNxjXwa5 pic.twitter.com/aImldjXJsV

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) August 18, 2019

Who backs a no-deal Brexit?

A no-deal Brexit is apparently the preference of the far right. It seems to be the preferred option of Boris Johnson’s hard-right government, for example. And the Trump administration in the US is very enthusiastic about it.

In short, as openDemocracy has documented as part of its in-depth investigations:

a powerful, elite network wants to turn Britain into even more of a low-tax, offshore haven than it already is, and make more money from it.

And a no-deal Brexit would serve this aim perfectly. According to openDemocracy, this would also:

allow our public services to be flogged off on the global market – the next stage of the Great British Asset Striptease.

Statistics suggest, however, that only a minority of the general public want a no-deal Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, meanwhile, believes that a no-deal situation is “the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade”. That’s why Corbyn recently laid out a plan to unite MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit in order to defeat Johnson’s hard-right government. He would launch a vote of no confidence in the government, and then lead a temporary government to delay Brexit and call a general election. Next, as The Canary reported previously:

Labour would campaign in that election for a second referendum on EU membership with the option to Remain being available to voters.

As even Conservatives like Rifkind have pointed out, the choice to solve the parliamentary logjam is clear. The public must have the final say in a general election. And MPs must give them that opportunity. That means backing Corbyn’s plan and letting the British electorate choose: do we want an elitist, tax-haven Britain, or do we want something completely different?

Featured image via screenshot

By Ed Sykes

The assault against Owen Jones is the tip of the iceberg

Sun, 2019-08-18 21:48

When it comes to politically motivated violence in the UK, the assault against Owen Jones is the tip of the iceberg.

Free market capitalism is broken and child poverty, for instance, is rising sharply across the board and is above 50% in 10 UK constituencies.

This is fertile ground for a far right ascendancy, as the rise of politicians like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Viktor Orbán in Hungary shows.

With centrism collapsing worldwide, there is a political vacuum that the far right is ready to fill unless people offer an alternative vision.

Jones assaulted

A group of men assaulted Labour activist and Guardian columnist Jones outside a London pub late Saturday night:

It was clearly a premeditated attack and I was their target. They all attacked me and only assaulted my friends when they tried to defend me.

Describing the attack, Jones said:

We were about 30 metres away, saying goodbye to each other, when four men charged directly towards me: one of them karate kicked my back, threw me to the ground, started kicking me in the head and back, while my friends tried to drag them off, and were punched trying to defend me.

And he quickly flushed out a root of the problem:

They are being radicalised by mainstream politicians and a disturbingly large segment of the mainstream media.

Labour member assaulted

But the worrying attack on Jones is part of a wider trend in political violence. In October 2018, thugs brutally attacked Jade Unal after she had attended a Labour talk on Brexit, forcing both her and her daughter into temporary accommodation. They left Unal needing stitches and bloodied up.

Unal said:

They were calling me a ‘Labour c***’, a ‘posh snob’, ‘you think you’re better than everyone else’. They said they knew where I lived. It was horrific.

Before I knew it they were laying into me, screaming. They knocked me out and kept on kicking me even while my mum tried to defend me.

Like Jones, Unal took aim at politicians and the media for feeding far-right rhetoric:

The right-wing media, Brexit, Trump, the Conservatives, BNP, UKIP, Britain First and the EDL have contributed to this level of growing hatred. When will people be held responsible for their unfettered hate speech, which encourages others to think they can use violence if they do not agree with others’ political views?

Persecution of Julian Assange

The Conservative government’s persecution and “psychological torture” of Julian Assange for publishing truthful information in the public interest is another part of this trend in UK political violence.

After visiting Assange in Belmarsh high-security prison, UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer concluded that:

Mr. Assange shows all the symptoms of a person who has been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time. The psychiatrist who accompanied my mission said that his state of health was critical.

Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture

Here we are not speaking of prosecution but of persecution. That means that judicial power, institutions and proceedings are being deliberately abused for ulterior motives

Assange is facing extradition to the US over an indictment that criminalises journalistic activity relating to source protection and story hunting.

Tragic murder of Jo Cox

On 16 June 2016, Thomas Mair shouted “Britain First” as he shot and stabbed Labour MP Cox while she was going to meet her constituents in West Yorkshire.

Cox was a campaigner for the rights of refugees. She was murdered for her politics.

At the time, far-right Brexit politicians were claiming that “swarms” of refugees were going to enter the UK. Farage had unveiled his infamous “breaking point” poster that many people said resembled Nazi propaganda:

Your new poster resembles outright Nazi propaganda, @Nigel_Farage. Thanks to @brendanjharkin for pointing it out. pic.twitter.com/Rd89XZSvfD

— Connor Beaton (@cdbeaton) June 16, 2016

Abuse of Chris Williamson

Chris Williamson MP recently faced a campaign of abuse and harassment. People politically opposed to the MP for Derby North issued “threats of violence” against staff at Friend’s House in Brighton, where Labour members were planning to host Williamson.

The event went ahead, but in open air after three venues cancelled as a result of the campaign. Williamson spoke about tackling “the outrageous levels of poverty and inequality” by way of “a democratic socialist economy”.

Far right ascendancy

As well as minorities and vulnerable people, the far right will target its political opponents. With the assault on Owen Jones, we must be extremely cautious about the potential human cost of a far right resurgence. And we must never let it silence us.

Featured image via Owen Jones/ YouTube, Jade Unal and Zongo/ Flickr

By James Wright

Hundreds of Matalan workers to strike on 19 August over ‘insulting’ pay offer

Sun, 2019-08-18 21:09

At 2pm on Monday 19 August, Matalan employees will walk out for 24 hours in a dispute over fair pay. According to GMB Union, 500 workers voted in favour of strike action.

An “insulting” offer

The move is in response to management making an offer which leaves some workers with only a 1.5% pay rise. And GMB has said this is “equivalent to a real terms pay cut”.

The union has called for the public to support the striking workers:

Please support our comrades on the picket line at Matalan Knowsley.
GMB members walkout over 'insulting' pay offer' for 24 hours at 2 pm on Monday 19th August 2019. @PaulMaccaGMB @neilsmithgmb @Tim_Roache @gmbnwi @dannybgmb1 @Georgie_Patto @DavefcKelly @ByrneLan pic.twitter.com/6mADIEzsg1

— GMB K28 Knowsley (@K28Gmb) August 14, 2019

Regarding the reason for the strike, GMB Organiser Stephen Boden said:

This industrial action is a result of Matalan management making a frankly insulting pay offer. How can they expect hard working staff to accept [a] real terms pay cut? But it’s not too late for management to listen to workers and get back round the table with us to work out a fair deal.

Matalan’s response

A Matalan spokesperson said the company is “deeply disappointed that even a small portion of union members voted in favour of industrial action”. They also went on to say:

Our offer of a 4.7% pay increase for all of our distribution centre staff on core shifts […] is well above inflation and cost of living increases […]

We are proud to be a major employer in the North West [and] strive to balance the needs of our employees and their long-term job security with the wider needs of the business.

The strike is due to take place at Matalan’s distribution centre in Knowsley, Merseyside, which supplies across Northern England and Scotland. It is therefore expected to grind deliveries to a halt and have a major impact on Matalan’s operations.

Featured image via Wikimedia/Mtaylor848

By Afroze Fatima Zaidi

Owen Jones ‘in no doubt’ that the attack on him was politically motivated

Sun, 2019-08-18 19:24

Left-wing journalist and political commentator Owen Jones explained he was assaulted outside a pub on 16 August:

This is a bit dramatic, so firstly I’m fine, but last night – when I was celebrating my birthday – I was attacked, along with my friends, in a blatant premeditated assault.

— Owen Jones

Labour’s Laura Pidcock exposes the establishment’s absurd hatred of Jeremy Corbyn on Sky News

Sun, 2019-08-18 18:30

Shadow minister for business, energy and industrial strategy Laura Pidcock exposed the establishment’s absurd hatred of Jeremy Corbyn on 18 August.

“Strange”

Speaking to Sky News, Pidcock branded the idea that someone other than the leader of the opposition should lead a unity government opposed to Boris Johnson as “strange”:

I think it’s quite strange if I’m honest that we’re considering other options. Constitutionally that is the right thing to do.

 

Labour's @LauraPidcockMP does away with the "strange" idea that the leader of an opposition unity government should be someone other than the leader of the opposition. pic.twitter.com/mRm3Ep2NW5

— James Wright (@wrightismight) August 18, 2019

Pidcock also said:

Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the opposition. It is the largest party that isn’t in government. He should lead those conversations. And he carries with him the largest amount of MPs. And quite frankly, I think it’s arrogant of… say the Liberal Democrats or other people who don’t have such a mandate in parliament. Remember Jeremy Corbyn… as the leader of the Labour Party he was elected twice, but also had 40% of the vote share at the last election.

The MP for North West Durham continued:

But let’s consider the inverse, if Jeremy wasn’t doing this, if he wasn’t trying to reach out across all sides of the House of Commons, what would people say?

He is absolutely doing the right thing to avert this no-deal Brexit that we have said in our manifesto, that we have said time and time again in the House of Commons, that other political parties have committed to. The only way to do that is to get behind Jeremy Corbyn, so that he can have this time limited period as a caretaker prime minister to avert a no-deal Brexit. It’s very simple.

Corbyn’s plan

Corbyn says that MPs should support a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson, and then vote confidence in a temporary Labour government with the sole purpose of stopping a no-deal Brexit. The new minority Labour government would then extend the Brexit process to create time for a general election, with Labour offering a second referendum on any Brexit deal with Remain on the ballot.

On Sky, Pidcock laid out the basic facts. We are supposed to have a parliamentary democracy – the leader of the opposition is an elected role and not a position that the permanent political class can replace at a whim. Pidcock deserves our respect for standing strong in the face of oligarchy.

Featured image via Twitter/ wrightismight

By James Wright

CanaryPod: Topple Uncaged S2 EP15

Sun, 2019-08-18 16:39

THIS PODCAST CONTAINS LANGUAGE AND CONTENT SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND OFFENSIVE. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS EPISODE ARE THE OPINIONS OF THE HOST AND GUESTS. GIGI’S FAMILY GAVE THEIR FULL PERMISSION FOR SHARING THIS INTERVIEW.

Welcome to series two of #ToppleUncaged!

Every week, The Canary will be bringing you an innovative podcast for the media landscape; hosted by me, Steve Topple.

You’ll get my quick fire round-up of the news in Topple’s Twittering. Then, I’ll be going in on a story or campaign you may have missed, with a very special guest, on Free Flying With… After that, you get to have your say on the week’s talking points in Twitter Chirps Back. And finally, I’ll be bringing you the freshest, most banging political music in Revolutionary Bird Song.

This week’s guests? Campaigning mum Tina Rodwell on the heartbreaking story of ‘Gigi’. Plus record-breaker and global legend Usain Bolt has answered my questions about his new move into the music industry.

Enjoy!

https://www.thecanary.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/REDUCED-Uncaged_S2_ep15_master.mp3

CanaryPod: #ToppleUncaged show notes 18/8/19

Presented, produced and edited by Steve Topple.

Sound engineering by Gav Pauze.

Topple’s Twittering intro…

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to sail on zero-carbon boat from Plymouth to New York

Details of the Transition Monaco Forum 2018

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – For Consent (six part series)

But even so… given pollutants contribute directly (not thru warming) to thousands of deaths per year in the UK, it's worth doing regardless of whether other nations following our lead! https://t.co/Ie1MxNYGtq

— Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) August 16, 2019

There are 32.81 million people employed in the UK. That’s a new record.

Average weekly pay grew 3.9% in the year to June, that’s the highest over a decade.@Conservatives policies support the economy so we can pay for our great public services.

Join us: https://t.co/Fegge3vxcu pic.twitter.com/ybUvlV5kEi

— James Cleverly MP (@JamesCleverly) August 15, 2019

I’m sure Russia, Iran and Maduro in Venezuela will be looking forward to Prime Minister Corbyn

— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) August 16, 2019

"This isn't really about Jeremy Corbyn, it's about who could command a majority in the House of Commons to stop a no deal Brexit" @ChukaUmunna pic.twitter.com/CNJq96zm5t

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) August 15, 2019

Free Flying With… campaign details:

Follow Tina Rodwell on Twitter for updates on Gigi’s story.

Read more about this case.

Get involved with the crowd funder.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust told The Canary:

Jehan is a priority for us and we are taking her care very seriously. We have sought advice from specialists in this field and continue to work with her family and doctors to ensure she receives the best care and treatment.

Twitter Chirps Back:

OI TWITTER

China condemns US politicians’ support for Hong Kong protests

Sun, 2019-08-18 12:34

A spokesman for China’s ceremonial legislature has condemned US politicians’ support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement as “a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law”.

You Wenze said the Americans’ comments were “a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

He spoke out as more protests were planned on Sunday following a day of rival rallies which highlighted the political divide in the Chinese territory.

Protesters, some holding cards which read ‘Five demands, not one less’,march in Hong Kong on Sunday (Kin Cheung/AP)

Mr You said Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people and Chinese population as a whole rejected the actions of a “very small group of violent protesters” as well as “any interference of foreign forces”.

He did not mention any specific politician, but numerous Senators and Congress members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have affirmed the US’s commitment to human rights and urged the Hong Kong government to end the stand-off.

Congress also has the power to pass legislation affecting Hong Kong’s relationship with the US in ways which could further erode the territory’s reputation for stability and rule of law.

That includes the recent re-introduction of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in Congress, which would among other provisions require the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to the city.

More directly, President Donald Trump could simply issue an executive order suspending Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US, a move that could have a devastating effect on the local economy at a time when Beijing and Washington are engaged in a bitter trade war.

Protesters wear eye patches to show solidarity with a woman reportedly injured by a beanbag fired by police, hold a banner that reads ‘Medical workers and citizens march together’ (Vincent Thian/AP)

On Saturday, pro-democracy protesters marched on one side of Hong Kong’s famous harbour for the 10th weekend, while a pro-government rally called for an end to the sometimes violent movement.

“The government right now doesn’t listen to the people, and the police are too violent,” said Bobby Tse, a retiree who watched the pro-democracy march from a bridge.

“It didn’t used to be like this. We didn’t have to protest every week. But now, even though we have protests every week, the government still gives no response.”

At the pro-government rally, speakers on a stage said they love both Hong Kong and China and asked the protesters why they are afraid of China. Supporters gave a thumbs-up to police officers and posed for photos with them.

Driver Leo Chen said he attended because he wants peace in his city.

“Before, everyone in Hong Kong helped each other, it was very harmonious,” he said. “Now, to see it become like this, I’m not happy, so I’ve come out to show a little strength.”

Earlier on Saturday, thousands of schoolteachers marched to the official residence of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, to show support for the protesters, who include many students.

Protesters gather near a statue of Queen Victoria at Victoria Park in Hong Kong (Vincent Thian/AP)

Carrying signs that read “Protect the next generation” and umbrellas to ward off intermittent downpours, the teachers tied white ribbons to a metal fence near Government House.

They said the government should answer the protesters’ demands and stop using what they called police violence to disperse demonstrators who have taken over streets and besieged and defaced government buildings.

The movement’s demands include Ms Lam’s resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force.

A rally in Victoria Park has been called for Sunday by a pro-democracy group that has organised three massive marches through central Hong Kong since June.

Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police force have been training for days across the border in Shenzhen, including on Sunday morning, fuelling speculation that they could be sent in to suppress the protests.

The Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests.

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By The Canary

The British government is covertly funding Muslim media as part of its counter terror strategy

Sat, 2019-08-17 23:08

A report published by Middle East Eye on 15 August revealed that a media outlet for young Muslims is in fact “a covert British government counterterrorism programme”:

'Woke' news platform aimed at young Muslims is actually a secret British government counterterrorism programme pic.twitter.com/gvtTAH6x2x

— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) August 16, 2019

Transparency

Security officials have admitted that the news platform This is Woke is part of the government’s counter-terror strategy. It was created by a media company for the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a department of the Home Office. However, OSCT has refused to disclose its reasons for this initiative, citing national security concerns.

Members of the Muslim community have taken to Twitter to criticise the Home Office’s lack of transparency. And many believe it will create further distrust of the authorities among British Muslims.

Infuriated about the Home Office's Chicken Shop knife crime campaign? There's more. The Home Office pretended to be a "woke" media company that was actually a covert counter terror programme.
https://t.co/mFBbky7EHP

— Areeb Ullah (@are_eb) August 15, 2019

Pro-PREVENT people: we’re open and transparent and certain groups are just scaremongering

Home office RICU: we clandestinely fund projects that target Muslim communities and seem like they’re grassroots orgs, but they’re not. Can’t tell you more, because national security

— AssedBaig (@AssedBaig) August 17, 2019

This complete absence of transparency is just one of many reasons why there is such little trust between Muslim communities and govt on CT initiatives https://t.co/CLIb1gTpws

— Khadijah Elshayyal (@DrKElshayyal) August 16, 2019

so angry abt home office/this is woke situation I can’t articulate myself. How can the govt expect Muslims not to have trust issues with our govt. If you are going to consistently operate like ******* snakes infiltrating communities under the guise of community & empowerment.

— Nafisa / amaliah.com (@Nafisa_Bakkar) August 16, 2019

The betrayal of trust that we face at every level of every institution including online spaces, media platforms, arts and culture events, civic life and everything else is honestly something I think everyone concerned w racism at ALL needs to be SCREAMING about! This is urgent!

— Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan (@thebrownhijabi) August 17, 2019

The problem runs deeper

From discussions online, it quickly became clear that this is not the only covertly-funded government initiative within the Muslim community. A company called Team JGO which created Super Sisters Mag, also appears to have received Home Office funding. Needless to say, the revelations have caused considerable distress among Muslims:

Take @SuperSistersMag that was founded by Team JGO who claim this mag is a Home Office project they delivered and have taken Prevent funding previously on their own website. @UK_CAGE @thebrownhijabi @RobFaureWalker @Tarek_Younis_ @YBirt @IanCobain is this Breakthrough Media too? pic.twitter.com/X0xEmQwOGy

— Dr Asim Qureshi (@AsimCP) August 16, 2019

I used to work at Breakthrough media back in 2016/2017 and can confirm this. There’s also UmmahSonic, Stoosh and a few Somali organisations. Got cut out of a lot of those meetings even tho I was their primary audience.

Left as soon as I was contractually able to. https://t.co/g4OO3YqDAk

— Amina (@Ayymina_) August 17, 2019

Having tweeted this & followed @AsimCP’s thread last night someone DMd me about this tweet giving the wildest insight into @SuperSistersMag… READ THIS DM… how is it not parody that middle aged white men pretend to be a Muslim women’s mag as part of counter terror efforts!? pic.twitter.com/9yXHz6bgVi

— Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan (@thebrownhijabi) August 17, 2019

And now someone else who used to work for JGO has DMd me to say exactly that. pic.twitter.com/eI9TAzeSBj

— Dr Asim Qureshi (@AsimCP) August 17, 2019

Academic Yahya Birt has described these attempts to create government-funded Muslim grassroots organisations as “astroturfing“. Instead of supporting initiatives organically started by Muslims themselves, the state is keen to infiltrate Muslim spaces, often covertly, for its own security agenda.

Birt says in his article: “Opaque government manipulation of British Muslim community life has become pervasive”. The targeting of Muslim communities as potential sites of terror is informed by, and further feeds into, anti-Muslim paranoia.

If you liked this story then you'd definitely like this piece by @YBirt. He looks into "Astroturfing". The age-old colonial policy designed to give projects the appearance of being “grassroots” when in fact it is driven from above by state funding.https://t.co/tS7EoHzUjV

— Areeb Ullah (@are_eb) August 17, 2019

It's curious that WOKE isn't listed as one the the Building a Stronger Britain Together pgms, suggesting that even the large # of fake civil soc orgs listed by @ukhomeoffice and @MCSaatchiLondon are just the tip of the iceberg of their subversion of UK democracy

— Dr Rob Faure Walker (@RobFaureWalker) August 16, 2019

Ultimately, the revelations about Woke display bad faith and a blatant disregard from the Home Office for the freedom and privacy of British Muslims. But apart from bad faith, it’s bad politics, as this incident will only widen the rift between British authorities and already heavily-surveilled Muslim communities in the UK.

Featured image via Flickr/ nolifebeforecoffee

By Afroze Fatima Zaidi

Pub gives away free meals to children going hungry in school holidays

Sat, 2019-08-17 21:34

A pub is giving away free meals to children whose families are struggling to feed them during the school holidays.

The owners of the Crown Inn in Keynsham near Bristol are aiming to feed youngsters who would otherwise be getting free meals at school by providing lunches and take-away dinners to any child who wants one – with no purchase necessary and no questions asked.

For all families who need an extra hand feeding the kids. We have made 100 free takeaway meals – you don’t need to buy…

Posted by The Crown Inn Keynsham on Monday, August 12, 2019

David Yeomans, who co-owns the pub with his partner Luke Skinner, told the PA news agency: “We’re not bothered about taking any money over the bar, it is purely for the families and the children.

“We’ve had people down here, the parents have had a glass of water, the kids have had a squash and a meal, and then they’ve gone home. It’s not a money maker.”

Mr Yeomans was inspired after seeing a Facebook post from a local food bank appealing for donations because of the increased demand over the summer holidays.

After donating himself, Mr Yeomans felt he could go one step further.

He is now giving away dozens of meals at his pub every day – he estimates he has got through around 250 homemade meals in a week – and on Friday he hosted a free party for local children with a buffet, for which people were queuing at the door when they opened at midday.

The buffet was all gone within a couple of hours (The Crown Inn/PA)

He said: “The buffet went out at 12 – it was full of food – and at 2 o’clock it was empty. We had to go out and get more food.

“The minute we opened the door the whole pub was full. I’m guessing we must have had over 100 people in pretty much instantly, and as people were leaving new people were coming in.

“It’s obviously needed in the area.”

The parties will run every Friday throughout the holidays, and when term starts the pub will run an after-school club for 30 kids.

While the meals are aimed at families who are struggling financially, the pub is running the scheme with a no-questions-asked policy.

Mr Yeomans said: “Everyone’s circumstances are different. We’ve had working people come in with their kids that have got the meals and they’re in tears because they’re struggling to make ends meet, you’ve got people on benefits that are struggling to make ends meet.

We’re almost ready

Posted by The Crown Inn Keynsham on Friday, August 16, 2019

“When they come down we treat them as if they were family. They don’t get treated any different from anyone else. We give the kids glasses of squash, say ‘go sit in the garden and do whatever you want, we’ll bring the food out when it’s ready’.

“So they’re treated like any other customer.”

Kids can get free sandwiches for lunch and meals like sausage and mash, macaroni cheese or tomato pasta to take away with them for dinner.

The meals are currently being funded by the Crown, but Mr Yeomans hopes donations will start to come in to help support the venture.

“If we can get donations that’s great so we don’t have to fund it all ourselves, because it is going to be an expensive thing,” he said.

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By The Canary

Pound surges at the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government

Sat, 2019-08-17 20:47

The pound has surged after Jeremy Corbyn offered to lead an interim government to stop no-deal and call a general election. Stirling reached above $1.21 and remained there after Corbyn launched his plan.

Establishment fearmongering exposed

Former chancellor Philip Hammond claimed that a Corbyn-led government would mean “a crash in the value of the pound, causing a shockwave of inflation”. But it seems that the opposite is true, with the prospect of an interim Corbyn government boosting the pound. Analyst at Spreadex Connor Campbell said:

In a move that is begging to be undermined by some hard Brexit soundbites, the pound surged 0.5% against the dollar and 0.8% against the euro as rebel Tories and Jeremy Corbyn agreed to meet to try and hash out a plan to deny Boris Johnson his much sought after no-deal Halloween

Corbyn’s plan

Outlining his plan by letter, Corbyn said that MPs should support a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson, and then vote confidence in a temporary Labour government with the sole purpose of stopping a no-deal Brexit. The new minority Labour government would then extend the Brexit process to create time for a general election.

The SNP has already expressed potential support for Corbyn’s plan, as has the Green party and Plaid Cymru. With that in mind, Corbyn already has 287 votes to bring down Johnson. 322 is the threshold, meaning he needs another 35 votes.

Other parties like the Lib Dems are refusing to work with Corbyn. But he is the leader of the opposition. His party has 247 MPs and a membership of over 500,000. The next largest opposition party is the SNP with 35 MPs and around 125,000 members.

So the onus is on the Lib Dems, Change UK, and anyone serious about stopping no-deal to rally behind Corbyn.

Jubilant reaction

On social media, people reacted to the news:

The Jeremy Corbyn effect. If all opposition MPs unite behind him, it will surge again.

“Pound surges above $1.21 on hopes of rebellion against no-deal Brexit”

Boris Johnson is a real threat to our economy. #R4today https://t.co/AHP73bG7U0

— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) August 16, 2019

'Likelihood of @JeremyCorbyn-led UK government sees the British Pound surge.'

Must be that alternate reality seeping through again. That one where liars aren't paid to bullshit Brits that Corbyn's Labour will Destroy Them All by treating them like human beings.

— Alt-Rupert (@TheMurdochTimes) August 16, 2019

Struggling to find many economists, free marketeers, Labour or LibDem MPs or any political pundits, journalists or newspapers celebrating the pound surging on the back of Corbyn's proposal to resolve the Brexit crisis.

Can't imagine why…https://t.co/DL4QysPatX

— russjackson (@docrussjackson) August 17, 2019

The mere hint of a Corbyn Government boosts the economy.

Pound surges above $1.21 on hopes of rebellion against no-deal Brexit
https://t.co/1oVWXjElth

— Brian Tweedale (@BrianHTweed) August 16, 2019

It turns out the establishment’s fearmongering over a Corbyn-led government is actually applicable to Johnson’s administration. If victorious in a general election, a Corbyn government would not only prevent a no-deal Brexit but also bring in the investment programme that Britain needs. This will only benefit the economy, the pound included.

Featured image via Rwendland/ WikiCommons and Images of Money/ Flickr

By James Wright

Sudanese protesters sign transition deal with army

Sat, 2019-08-17 19:45

Sudan’s army and the country’s pro-democracy movement have signed a final powersharing deal at a ceremony in the capital Khartoum.

The move paves the way for a transition to civilian-led government following the overthrow of president Omar al-Bashir in April.

Sealing the deal established a joint military and civilian council to rule for a little over three years until elections can be held.

A military leader will head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the following 18.

Pro-democracy supporters headed to the capital Khartoum to celebrate (AP)

The agreement will also establish a cabinet appointed by the activists and a legislative body to be assembled within three months.

The protest coalition is to have a majority in that body, as nominated by the Forces for Declaration of Freedom, a group of opposition parties and movements representing the protesters.

After weeks of tense negotiations, both sides reached a preliminary agreement earlier this month following international pressure, amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite civil war.

The military overthrew Mr al-Bashir following months of protests against his three-decade-long authoritarian rule. The protesters then remained in the streets, demanding a rapid transition to civilian leadership.

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By The Canary

MP tweets plan for no deal Brexit regardless of a no confidence vote in Johnson government

Sat, 2019-08-17 19:44

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat has outlined a plan by which the UK government, led by Boris Johnson, could ensure a no deal Brexit. Moreover, if the plan went ahead, it would mean that a vote of no confidence in the government would be curtailed.

The plan

Tugendhat, who is the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, outlined the plan via Twitter:

What odds would you give on:
1 UK exits EU by 24 Aug – in time for G7 or before Parliament returns. Art 50 passed so nothing to stop unilateral withdrawal.
2 General Election straight after to get majority.
3 Answer Irish border Q with NI only referendum on NI only backstop?

— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) August 14, 2019

Regarding point  1, unilateral withdrawal is not allowed under EU legislation, which the UK is signed up to:

Point 1 legally requires secondary legislation under the Withdrawal Act. But s 20(3) of the Act suggests that a change of date can only be "in accordance with Article 50(3)" TEU. So the EU would have to agree to change the date. "Unilateral" change of date is therefore illegal.

— Steve Peers (@StevePeers) August 14, 2019

While Peers is correct, his argument involves a huge assumption: namely, that the law is followed on this occasion.

In September 2018, the High Court ruled that Vote Leave, the official Leave campaign fronted by Johnson and Michael Gove MP, had broken the law in its overspend. Earlier, in July 2018, the Electoral Commission also ruled that Vote Leave broke electoral law. Consequently, Vote Leave was referred to the police.

General election

Regarding Tugendhat’s second point, should Johnson follow up an early withdrawal from the EU with a general election, that would be a huge gamble.

Yes, Johnson could say to those of the electorate who want to leave the EU at any cost that he has pulled it off. But in the immediate aftermath, if the UK economy nose-dives, then many pro-Leavers might desert him.

Moreover, an early withdrawal would ensure the UK is even further alienated in its relationship with the EU.

Backstop

Tugendhat’s third point is also problematic. It raises the possibility that a referendum in Northern Ireland could at some point result in an all-Ireland customs arrangement. That would essentially mean a trade border in the Irish Sea.

But the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) opposes such a solution, because, in their view, it would affect the political status of Northern Ireland as part of the UK union.

However, it could provide an opportunity for Britain to trade with the EU via a customs union. That would leave Northern Ireland as the intermediary.

Political expediency

Presumably, the prime aim of Johnson is not just to secure Brexit, but ensure the Conservative Party wins at the general election, preferably with him as leader. And an early withdrawal from the EU, followed immediately by a general election, would be very tempting for him, despite the risks.

It’s a scenario that, outrageous as it is, cannot be completely ruled out. Though, no doubt, it would likely provoke legal challenges in the UK courts.

Nevertheless, all eventualities should be prepared for.

Featured image via Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 – Flickr

By Tom Coburg

Jeremy Corbyn vows to reverse ‘depressing’ decline of town centres

Sat, 2019-08-17 19:29

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said there is “nothing more depressing” than seeing town centres decline as shoppers turn to out-of-town warehouses for online deliveries.

He wants councils to have the power to reopen abandoned shops which have been left vacant for 12 months or more and bring back into use some of the estimated 29,000 physical retail units abandoned.

Under Labour’s plan, local authorities will be able to turn vacant shops over to start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects.

Mr Corbyn was joined by local Labour group leader Linda Thomas, right, and Bolton West candidate Julie Hilling for the visit (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Corbyn visited Bolton, Greater Manchester, on Saturday and dropped in to two former empty stores in the town’s Market Place Shopping Centre which are now home to a music charity and a ping pong “parlour”.

He said: “The issue across the country is a very large number of town centres have got lots of boarded-up shops, and that’s depressing. It drives people away and diminishes our sense of community in our town centres.

“We want to change that. Hence our policy proposals today are that local authorities should have the power to take over shops that have been deliberately kept empty and just used as an opportunity to make some money when the value may go up in the future, and make sure they are brought into use.

Mr Corbyn tried out a guitar alongside John Newhouse of the Trust Music charity studio (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Because when we have a community around the town centre where all the shops are in use and occupied, people feel much safer and it’s also about creating that sense of community.

“There is nothing more depressing than seeing town centres declining and out-of-town warehouses doing online deliveries to people. That is not building a sense of community.

“So it does mean we have got to change the way in which we approach our communities and town centres.”

Asked how the bigger high street names can be attracted back to town centres, Mr Corbyn said: “You have to persuade them that they are going to come in, that they are going to stay there and that they are part of the community.

He also tried his hand at table tennis at a former shop which is now a place where the public can try the sport (Peter Byrne/PA)

“But it’s also a question, particularly for the smaller ones, of the level of business rates they have to pay and the rent levels that are charged in shopping centres, because rent levels are very high in many shopping centres and that’s what drives people away.

“What we do have to do is have a planning regime which allows local authorities to intervene to ensure that we keep shops going and can also make sure there is a diversity of shops, because you don’t want a place that is just charity shops or just estate agents. You need that diversity to bring you in. You need to buy bread as well as clothes.”

But local growth minister Jake Berry has claimed Mr Corbyn would “wreck the economy, tax small businesses and scare off the investment needed to help our high streets, meaning more boarded-up shops and fewer jobs”.

Mr Corbyn said he was impressed by what he saw in Bolton, and added that a community project in a shopping centre is a “two-way street”.

Mr Corbyn was unimpressed by his own skills, saying the match was the ‘worst ever’ exhibition match of ping pong (Peter Byrne/PA)

He said: “Yes it does provide a space for the charity to operate from, the music charity for example is doing well, but it brings more people in who are then going to other places.”

Mr Corbyn strapped on a Tokai electric guitar at the Trust Music studio, a charity where people can drop in and learn how to play a musical instrument or sing in choir.

Local charity band Rock of Ages perform weekly at Trust Music and they were happy to take a request from Mr Corbyn to play a rendition of Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

Mr Corbyn was less in his comfort zone when playing table tennis at the ping pong parlour, an initiative by Table Tennis England where the public can hone their skills at the sport.

He told the PA news agency of his match with former Bolton West MP Julie Hilling: “I’m not a ping pong player at all. We have just produced for you the worst ever exhibition match of ping pong that ever was.”

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By The Canary

China is forcibly sterilising Muslim women in internment camps, according to former detainees

Sat, 2019-08-17 19:18

Survivors from detainment camps in China’s Xinjiang province have shared their experiences. These include stories of torture and forced sterilisation.

Gulbahar Jalilova

Gulbahar Jalilova spoke to media outlet France24, describing how authorities packed around fifty women and girls in a cell. They also injected them regularly with unknown drugs. In a short film produced by Coda Story, Jalilova also mentions they had to take medicines every day. But they couldn’t ask what these medicines were:

We were not allowed to ask what drugs they were. We had to just swallow them. We often saw girls faint. It became so normal, our hearts no longer ached for them. We were neither dead nor alive. They turned us into this. With their drugs and their injections. When younger women first arrived, they still had their periods. But after two or three months, their periods stopped.

Jalilova also describes how she had to write patriotic letters in support of the Chinese Communist Party. Guards intimidated her and other detainees and told them authorities in Beijing were watching their every move. They released Jalilova after fifteen months. She now lives in Turkey.

A Woman's Life Inside China's Digital Gulag: Gulbahar Jalilova, a citizen of Kazakhstan, spent fifteen months in one of China's concentration camps for ethnic Uyghurs & other Muslim groups. She tells the story of life in Chinese detention & the women she met there. @CodaStory pic.twitter.com/vvxVKT34pS

— WorldUyghurCongress (@UyghurCongress) July 4, 2019

Mihrigul Tursun

Another survivor, Mihrigul Tursun, similarly reported being tortured and taking medication against her will. Speaking to Amnesty International, she described feeling tired and depressed after being forcibly medicated. She now lives in the US, where doctors have told her she has been sterilised.

In her testimony to the US Congress, Tursun describes being repeatedly tortured and humiliated during her time there. She also shares how guards in the camps would mock her religion.

The Canary reported on the situation in China in September 2018, as news was beginning to gain attention in western media. Some Chinese media described them as “vocational training centres”. According to the UN, China is now detaining over one million citizens from minority groups.

Featured image via Youtube/ The Canary

By Afroze Fatima Zaidi

The Lib Dems facing extreme ridicule after backing pro-Brexit interim government

Sat, 2019-08-17 18:32

The Lib Dems are facing extreme ridicule after the party backed Tory Ken Clarke to lead a pro-Brexit interim government.

Extraordinary from the Lib Dems

In her first speech as Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson said:

What we need in a leader of an emergency government is a long-serving member of parliament who is respected on both sides of the House.

Someone like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman – the Father and Mother of the House. They are hugely experienced and, unlike Jeremy Corbyn, or indeed myself, they are not seeking to lead a government in the long term.

But Clarke is offering to lead a “short-term” government to “sort out Brexit”, not hold a second referendum as is longstanding Lib Dem policy. Swinson’s party is supporting this soft-Brexit government, despite Corbyn’s plan. The leader of the opposition is offering to head an interim government that would call a general election, with a view to then hold a second referendum on any Brexit deal with Remain on the ballot.

This is very inconsistent from the Lib Dems. Other than Norman Lamb MP, the Lib Dems voted down Clarke’s proposition for a soft-Brexit customs union compromise back in March. It lost by just three votes. If it had passed, that could have avoided a Johnson government and unified parliament on a soft-Brexit compromise that polling has shown 60% of the public support.

By contrast, Corbyn’s Labour supported all the compromise motions to either soften or have a confirmatory vote on Brexit, short of outright revoking Article 50.

Parliamentary democracy, not oligarchy

What’s more, the idea that Clarke, a backbencher, could lead an interim government is surely a farce. Corbyn is the leader of the opposition. His party has 247 MPs and a membership of over 500,000. The next largest opposition party is the SNP with 35 MPs and around 125,000 members.

And the SNP has already expressed potential support for Corbyn’s plan, as has the Green party and Plaid Cymru. With that in mind, Corbyn already has 287 votes to bring down Johnson. 322 is the threshold, meaning he needs another 35 votes.

In a parliamentary democracy, the onus is on the Lib Dems, Change UK, and anyone serious about stopping no-deal to rally behind the leader of the opposition.

Ridicule

On social media, the Lib Dems faced widespread ridicule for their inconsistency:

The Liberal Democrats under @joswinson have ended up in the ridiculous situation where they support Tory Ken Clark for PM, who would renogiate Brexit, but without a referendum; rather than Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, even though we're totally committed to a Public Vote with Remain.

— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) August 17, 2019

The Lib Dems want to install Ken Clarke as PM

Ken Clarke is pro-Brexit and would implement Brexit if he was appointed as PM

Therefore the Lib Dems are, in fact, pro-Brexit

— Stats for Lefties (@LeftieStats) August 17, 2019

First, they torpedoed Ken's custom's union bill during the indicative votes.

Then they forgot to ask whether he supports their main policy.

Not sure what the rationale for Ken Clarke as the Lib Dem's first choice as caretaker PM is other than he isn't called Jeremy Corbyn. https://t.co/u9iLE7Krh3

— Kieran Pradeep (@kieranpradeept1) August 16, 2019

Just to be clear Labour offered the Lib dems and the Change lot a way to stop Brexit and they are turning it down. It's a tried and tested constitutionally recognised route. They are saying no.

— Ed Poole (@edwardpoole1975) August 16, 2019

Someone please explain to me how a political party with 14 MPs (Lib Dems) or one with 5 (ChangeUK) is trying to dictate who the leader of the opposition should be.

I have more people in my Friday football WhatsApp group.

— Ali Milani (@ARMilani_) August 17, 2019

The Lib Dems have proved once and for all that they are the stop-Corbyn party, not the stop-Brexit party. Their inconsistency is frankly embarrassing.

Featured image via Keith Edkins/ WikiCommons

By James Wright

Senior Tory says Boris Johnson’s rhetoric has led directly to death threats

Sat, 2019-08-17 18:00

A Tory former attorney general has accused Boris Johnson of “behaving like a demagogue” and said the Prime Minister’s rhetoric has led directly to him receiving death threats.

Remain-supporter Dominic Grieve insisted he wanted to stay in the Conservative Party to “save” it from the likes of Mr Johnson – who he claimed was “hijacking” it.

The Beaconsfield MP lambasted the PM’s “tub-thumping populism”, which he said had led “straightforwardly” to the death threats he has received.

Mr Grieve, who said someone was arrested in respect of a death threat against him recently, told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I want to save the Tory Party from the likes of Mr Johnson – he’s hijacking it and taking it in directions which I find extremely worrying.

On receiving death threats, Grieve says: “I would expect a Conservative Prime Minister to absolutely denounce this and also to make sure that in his own rhetoric and language he avoids anything which can encourage it and it is quite plain that he’s not doing so.”

— BBCScot WeekendGMS (@BBCWeekendGMS) August 17, 2019

“I don’t like the rhetoric, after all, the rhetoric leads straightforwardly to the death threats which I receive.

“And this seems to me that the language he’s using is not that of what I would expect of a Conservative Prime Minister.

“We have a deeply divided country – I think we have to accept that – and we are not going to resolve this problem by the sort of tub-thumping populism which he’s trying to espouse.

“He’s behaving like a demagogue, but I don’t think we should be surprised about that given his track record.”

Mr Grieve said if leading politicians use “emotive language” such as “collaborator” or calling people “traitors”, MPs “immediately start to receive really vile emails and communications from members of the public, and some of them contain death threats”.

He added: “All of us who have been trying to stand up for our principles and for our country are recipients of this.

“It’s been going on for a long time but I would expect a Conservative Prime Minister to absolutely denounce this and also to make sure that in his own rhetoric and language he avoids anything which can encourage it.

“And it’s quite plain that he’s not doing so. I’m not surprised at that in view of my own assessment of him.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Earlier this week, Mr Johnson accused MPs and the EU of collaborating to block Brexit, which he has vowed to deliver with or without a deal on October 31.

Mr Grieve also said he would be willing to bring down Mr Johnson’s administration if he pursued a no-deal Brexit, and that he would be happy to cooperate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I am very happy to cooperate with any parliamentary colleagues – including Jeremy Corbyn – in trying to prevent a no-deal Brexit and I think that there is quite a considerable head of steam growing up to try to make sure that no-deal doesn’t occur,” he explained.

“It may be that in order to do that it is necessary – and I’ve said I’d be willing to do it, although I don’t want to do it – to bring down Boris Johnson’s administration.

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By The Canary

Indian authorities begin easing clampdown in Kashmir

Sat, 2019-08-17 13:51

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir are restoring phone services after a security crackdown following a decision to downgrade the majority-Muslim region’s autonomy.

Administrator Shahid Choudhary said restrictions are being lifted in most areas and government offices will open on Saturday.

He also tweeted that food and other stocks were available “in abundance”.

Since most restrictions are being lifted tomorrow, I have a humble advice. Please don’t rush for panic shopping. Stocks are in abundance, making them available to all is our commitment.

— Shahid Choudhary (@listenshahid) August 16, 2019

Police in Kashmir tweeted that restrictions on movement of people were relaxed in several parts of the region.

“Situation remains peaceful,” police said.

Security forces that blanketed the region remain on high alert after hundreds of people took to the streets for an anti-India protest following Friday prayers in Srinagar, the main city in the divided Himalayan region.

The UN Security Council met to discuss Kashmir for the first time in decades, and Pakistan’s ambassador said the session showed that people in the region “may be locked up … but their voices were heard today.”

The council took no action during the closed meeting, which was called for by China and Pakistan.

President Donald Trump spoke with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan by phone on Friday and conveyed the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through dialogue, said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.

According to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, President Trump said he would also talk to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

And the UNSC meeting was a reaffirmation of these resolutions. Therefore addressing the suffering of the Kashmiri people & ensuring resolution of the dispute is the responsibility of this world body.

— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 17, 2019

On Saturday, the Press Trust of India news agency said landline services in 17 out of more than 100 telephone exchanges had been made operational in Srinagar.

The landline connections were also restored in some other parts of the region, PTI said.

A senior Indian official in Kashmir, BVR Subrahmanyam, said earlier that schools will reopen on Monday.

Public transport will be restored gradually after evaluating the security situation, he said.

On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators in Srinagar carried green Islamic flags and signs reading “Stop Genocide in Kashmir, Wake Up World”.

Some threw stones and clashed with security forces, which responded with tear gas.

Mr Modi has defended the Kashmir changes as freeing the territory from separatism, and his supporters welcomed the move.

One of the revisions allows anyone to buy land in Indian-controlled Kashmir, which some Kashmiris fear could change the region’s culture and demographics.

Critics have likened it to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. The rivals have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents who have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to rebels.

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By The Canary

Sajid Javid hints higher earners could benefit from tax cuts

Sat, 2019-08-17 13:34

Sajid Javid has hinted that higher earners could benefit from changes to the tax system when he delivers his first Budget.

The Chancellor said he was a “low tax guy” and that he wanted to see “simpler” taxes, but suggested the lowest paid would be first in line for any cuts.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Javid also said he was looking at various options regarding changes to stamp duty.

When asked about taxes for higher earners, he told the paper: “Wait and see for the Budget…

“But it wouldn’t be any surprise that I think taxes should be efficient.

“We want to set them at a rate where we are trying to maximise revenue, and that doesn’t always mean that you have the highest tax rate possible.

“Generally I want to see lower taxes, but at a level that is going to pay for the public services.”

And he said the Treasury would consider whether to make changes to the fiscal rules ahead of the Budget – but that he had not yet decided whether to hold it before October 31.

“When we have the budget, I will be thinking about whether we need to make any changes to the fiscal rules.

“It is obvious to me that when you’ve got some of the lowest rates on government debt this country has ever seen I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t thinking seriously about how do we use [that opportunity].”

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By The Canary

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