Photos: The Powerful Grenfell Protest Outside Parliament, May 14, 2018, and Updates About Safety Concerns

Four of my photos from the Grenfell protest outside Parliament on May 14, 2018. Clockwise from top left: Natasha Alcock of Grenfell United, Moyra Samuels of Justice4Grenfell, Diane Abbott MP and Grenfell community organiser Niles Hailstones.See my photos on Flickr here! And please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.

 

Please also check out ‘Grenfell’ by my band The Four Fathers, and please mark the following date in your diary: Saturday June 16, ‘One year on: Justice for Grenfell Solidarity March’, organised by Justice4Grenfell, starting outside 10 Downing St at noon.

Monday May 14, 2018 marked eleven months since the fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, killing over 70 people in an inferno that should never have occurred, and, to mark the occasion, survivors, members of the local community and supporters from across London converged on Parliament as MPs were preparing to debate the government’s response to the disaster, as I discussed in my previous article, Grenfell Campaigners Mark Eleven Months Since the Disaster That Killed 71, As MPs Debate the Government’s Response, written after I had attended the rally in Parliament Square

I also took photos, featuring representatives of survivors’ groups and the local community (including Justice4Grenfell and Grenfell United), which I have just posted to Flickr, so the purpose of this article is to provide a link to the photos, but also to provide some important updates on the Grenfell story that have emerged over the last few days.

The Parliamentary debate was taking place because, after the fire, Theresa May had announced the launch of an official inquiry, but campaigners wanted representatives from the local community to be involved, and launched a petition demanding this from the government, which secured the 100,000 signatures that made it eligible for a Parliamentary debate after grime star Stormzy promoted it to his many followers in February. Read the rest of this entry »

Grenfell Campaigners Mark Eleven Months Since the Disaster That Killed 71, As MPs Debate the Government’s Response

Moyra Samuels of Justice4Grenfell speaking at the rally in Parliament Square on May 14, 2018, marking eleven month since the entirely preventable fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London, killing 71 people (Photo: Andy Worthington). Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist, and check out ‘Grenfell’ by my band The Four Fathers.

 

Please also mark the following date in your diary: Saturday June 16,
One year on: Justice for Grenfell Solidarity March’, organised by Justice4Grenfell, starting outside 10 Downing St at noon.

Yesterday marked eleven months since the fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, killing over 70 people in an inferno that should never have taken place. Flats in tower blocks are designed to resist the onslaught of even a serious fire until the emergency services can arrive, but the cladding which had been applied to the tower, to make it look more attractive, was flammable, and in the process of installing it the structural integrity of the tower had been fatally compromised.

We know this from the warnings published by tenants, the Grenfell Action Group, on their website, but shamefully ignored by Kensington and Chelsea Council, and by the management company responsible for their homes, Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, as I made clear immediately after the fire, in an article entitled, Deaths Foretold at Grenfell Tower: Let This Be The Moment We The People Say “No More” to the Greed That Killed Residents.

We have also had it confirmed, just last week, in a leaked report prepared as part of the Metropolitan Police investigation into the fire, by fire investigation experts BRE Global Ltd., which concluded that “the original concrete building was transformed from a safe structure into a tinderbox by the refurbishment between 2014 and 2016.”

Despite this, the official response to the Grenfell Tower fire is that there is no official response until an inquiry has taken place. The inquiry was first announced 15 days after the fire, on June 29, 2017, when Theresa May also announced that it would be chaired by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, but the inquiry is not yet underway, and is only starting next week.

However, the choice of judge, the make-up of the inquiry panel, and the terms of reference of the inquiry were all subjected to serious criticism after the inquiry was announced. Matt Wrack, the head of the Fire Brigades Union, said, “Central government has created the housing and fire safety regime and central government must be held to account for any failings in it. Yet the terms of reference signed off by Theresa May appear designed to avoid this.” As the Guardian described it, he “said the inquiry should not focus simply on the actions of a local authority or contractor”, and stated, “It is about the overarching regime, the political climate under which they operate. People across the world are asking how, in the UK, it is possible to apply flammable systems of cladding to residential tower blocks. The risk in Moore-Bick’s terms of reference is that the inquiry is able to avoid probing deeper to examine the regime which allowed these deaths to happen, conveniently taking the spotlight off government ministers and any policies that were or weren’t in place that may have had an impact.”

Concerns about a whitewash of central government’s role in allowing the fire to happen were voiced by local MP Emma Dent Coad, of the Labour Party. She called the terms of reference for the inquiry a “complete betrayal” and said that the community would not have faith in it, because, by not considering social housing, it would “not get to the heart of the problem.” She also said, “We were told ‘no stone would be [left] unturned’ but instead are being presented with a technical assessment which will not get to the heart of the problem: what effects, if any, the lack of investment into social housing had on the refurbishment project.”

For the survivors, a particular bone of contention was the make-up of the inquiry panel, which was regarded as having a lack of diversity, and not representing the community. The led to a petition to the government being launched in November, asking for additional panel members, trusted by the community, to be appointed to the inquiry. The petition gained the 100,000 signatures needed to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate in February, after grime star Stormzy promoted it to his millions of supporters.

Parliament scheduled a debate on the petition to take place on May 14, prior to the start of the official inquiry next week, but perhaps without realising that it marked exactly eleven months since the fire, and so, yesterday, survivors, members of the local community and supporters from across London converged on Parliament to make their feelings known, holding a rally in Parliament Square before the debate began in Westminster Hall, before returning to north Kensington for a Silent Walk from the Methodist church at the foot of Grenfell Tower to Ladbroke Grove station and back. The Silent Walks take place on the 14th of every month, and are a profoundly moving experience, as I appreciated first-hand when I took part in the Silent Walk in December.

Just days before the debate, Theresa May attempted to defuse campaigners’ disappointment with the government’s ongoing failures to treat the Grenfell community and the survivors of the fire with the respect they deserve by announcing that two additional members would be appointed to the inquiry panel. However, as speakers at yesterday’s rally pointed out, it is by no means certain that this concession will satisfy the community’s demands, because the government has not made clear who these two additional members will be, and how they will be chosen.

At yesterday’s rally, the speakers also made a point of explaining how, eleven months on from the disaster, they have little reason for believing that the government intends to deliver anything resembling justice to survivors and the local community, primarily because many of the survivors are still living in temporary accommodation. They also made it clear that their concerns are for all the inhabitants of refurbished tower blocks around the country, who are living in fear, because their buildings also have dangerous cladding, just like Grenfell had, and yet no one is in any hurry to spend the money to make their homes safe.

I arrived at Parliament Square in time to hear from a 19-year old from the Grenfell community speaking about how the disaster politicised him, as is the case with so many others in the vicinity of the tower, and as I stated yesterday, when posting a photo of the rally on Facebook, “Perhaps this politicisation is the only way that those who lost their lives last June will not have died in vain, as the intensity of feeling in the Grenfell community, the solidarity it has created, and the ripples from that anger and solidarity that have emanated from Grenfell across London and around the country continue to create an environment in which those living in social housing, and those marginalised by the establishment, generally on the basis of race, refuse to be treated with contempt by those in positions of power and authority.”

Certainly, the speakers I heard yesterday all echoed this mistrust of the authorities when it comes to delivering justice, and the importance of solidarity amongst those affected — not just in north Kensington, but across the capital and across the UK as a whole. Community organiser Niles Hailstones spoke eloquently about this, as did Moyra Samuels from the Justice4Grenfell campaign, and Natasha Alcock of the survivors’ group Grenfell United, who lived on the 11th floor of Grenfell Tower, and was rescued by firefighters at 4.30am on the day of the fire.

Alcock told the rally, “We don’t want the people who died a year ago to have died in vain. There are also people still living in blocks with this cladding. We want to ensure that people in social housing don’t get treated like we did.” The Guardian explained how Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the fire, also made a similar call. “They should ban the cladding full stop,” Mussilhy said, adding, “We still have death traps out there in London. Let’s make those changes now and give people the assurance they are safe in their homes. Sprinklers need to be added and the cladding removed.”

As the Guardian also explained:

There are 306 residential blocks more than 18 metres in height that are clad in aluminium composite panels similar to those at Grenfell and that have failed government fire tests. The cladding remains in place on 54 social housing blocks and dozens more private apartment towers across England. The cost of replacement has been put as high as £1bn.

The government has said it is the responsibility of landlords to replace failed cladding, but it is keeping this position under review. Many blocks remain untouched because of legal disputes between freeholders and leaseholders over who should pay. The government has ordered a review of building regulations from Dame Judith Hackitt, who is expected to report back this week.

There is widespread concern at Westminster and among survivors that Hackitt will not recommend a ban on the use of combustible cladding and will say materials of “limited combustibility” should still be allowed to be used.

The Guardian also stated that the rally “showcased continued distrust of the authorities among some in the Grenfell community. Speakers described officials as ‘aliens’ and ‘androids’, and the crowd chanted: ‘No justice! No peace!’”

Another speaker I saw, a young Muslim woman called Naima, also pointed out that the majority of the victims in Grenfell Tower were Muslim — an inconvenient truth in a country where sympathy for Muslims has been so damaged by rampant Islamophobia.

I also heard the Labour MP Diane Abbott speak at the rally. As the Huffington Post described it, she “congratulated campaigners on their success in convincing [Theresa] May to include additional panel members, but said it was ‘not enough.’”

“We need to know who they are going to be,” she said, adding, “What made the difference in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry was the actual people who served on the panel. If they just had puppets on the panel that is not going to help anybody.”

She also brought up the class and race issue that the government is doing so much to avoid, saying, “You can talk about the cladding, you can talk about the regulations. But there’s also an attitude to communities that needs to be exposed and needs to be eliminated and I think it’s about those underlying issues about who has power and how they use it that are so important.”

Other MPs also spoke at the rally, and then at the Parliamentary debate. A video of the three-hour debate is here, and a full transcript is here. In addition, Emma Dent Coad has made her speech available here.

The Guardian explained how “MPs debated proposed measures to increase community confidence in the public inquiry. Many voiced concern that parliament and government had already lost the confidence of the Grenfell residents.”

The Guardian added, “David Lammy, who lost two friends in the fire, said 72 households from Grenfell were still living in hotel rooms and 64 remained in temporary accommodation. Referring to the survivors’ campaign for an inquiry panel, he said: ‘I regret that people who are in grief and in so much pain have had to organise and campaign to ensure their voices have been heard. Theresa May talks about burning injustices, but this injustice burned.” He added, “I remind the government of the words of Neville Lawrence [the father of Stephen Lawrence] in 2012: ‘The loss itself combined with the lack of justice means I have not been able to rest all this time.’”

For anyone wanting to know more, I also wholeheartedly recommend the Guardian’s front page feature yesterday, profiling the 71 people who died in the fire.

As I explained when I posted a link to the article on Facebook:

Here are the people who died, the individuals whose lives should not have been lost, vividly, beautifully remembered by their loved ones and friends.

Just a few of the introductions to the profiles are here:

Rania Ibrahim: “Rania did everything fast, as if she knew she was leaving life early”
Fathia Ali Ahmed Alsanousi”: “Her flat was beautiful, always full of people”
Mohamednur ‘Mo’ Tuccu: “He had a way of making you feel like an old friend – welcome and at ease”

Incidentally, the victims were also a cross-section of a modern, international Britain that should be celebrated and not denigrated by the racists trying to dictate our future, although, as the Guardian noted in an article introducing these profiles, while “[t]he makeup of the 71 people who died shows how diverse, open and tolerant Britain has become in the past 30 years (more than half the adult victims had arrived in the country since 1990)”, it is also crucial to remember that “Grenfell was not a microcosm of Britain or London. There were few white-collar workers among the victims and only seven white Britons, indicative of how the disaster disproportionately affected minority ethnic communities.”

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

British MPs Urge Donald Trump and Senate Committees to Close Guantánamo

Andy Worthington of Close Guantánamo with Mitch Robinson, international law expert for Mustafa al-Hawsawi, one of five "high-value detainees" at Guantánamo accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International USA call on Donald Trump to close Guantánamo at the annual rally outside the White House on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison. They were supporting the new Close Guantánamo initiative, counting how many days Guantánamo has been open — a shocking total of 5,845 days on the anniversary.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

For the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, a cross-party group of British MPs have written to Donald Trump, and to Republican Senators John McCain and Bob Corker, the chairs of two influential Senate Committees (the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations), to urge action on Guantánamo after a year in which no prisoner has been released, despite five of the 41 men still held being approved for release, between 2010 and 2016, by high-level government processes established under President Obama. Throughout 2017, Donald Trump also made it clear that he has no interest in closing the prison, and would like to expand its use.

Almost as soon as Trump took office last January, a leaked draft executive order revealed that he wanted to keep Guantánamo open, wanted to send new prisoners there, and wanted to “suspend any existing transfer efforts pending a new review as to whether any such transfers are in the national security interests of the United States.” He also wanted to reinstate torture and the use of CIA “black sites.”

Trump’s enthusiasm for torture was immediately rebuffed by a wide range of critics, including many in his own administration and his eagerness to send new prisoners to Guantánamo has also not led to any new arrivals at the prison, for sound reasons that we hope remain flagged up throughout the rest of his presidency. Set up to be beyond the reach of the US courts, Guantánamo was never about justice or due process, but about using torture and abuse and then hiding it, and as the troubled history of the military commissions reveals, once prisoners have been tortured, it is difficult, if not impossible to bring them to justice. Trump’s advisers have undoubtedly also told him that US courts have a strong track record of successfully prosecuting those accused of terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally! Theresa May and the Tories Suffer a Major Defeat on Brexit as MPs Secure a Meaningful Vote on the Final Deal

The Theresa May Brexit float, set up by campaigners for the UK to remain in the EU.

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Congratulations to MPs, who, yesterday evening (December 13), voted by 309 votes to 305 to give themselves a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal that Theresa May and her small clique of dangerous and deluded Brexit fantasists were planning to pass without including MPs at all.

In the end, the Labour leadership persuaded all but two of its MPs (Frank Field and Kate Hoey) to vote for the amendment, in a move that was obviously difficult for those from constituencies that voted Leave. The amendment was tabled by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, and its supporters in the Labour Party, and all the smaller parties except the DUP, were joined by eleven Tory rebels — as well as Dominic Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Robert Neill, Antointette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. Hammond, a vice chairman of the party, was almost immediately sacked, and the Daily Mail proceeded to damn the rebels on its front page, causing Keir Starmer to comment, in a tweet, “When judges uphold the law, they are branded enemies of the people. When MPs uphold democracy, they are branded traitors. Never has it been more important to reassert our values.”

In a day of passionate debating in Parliament, which often saw the Tory right attacking their colleagues, as tends to be the way with Brexiteers, who are prone to threats and hysteria, Dominic Grieve gave a passionate half-hour speech regarding his amendment. He “warned that the bill as it stood would unleash ‘a form of constitutional chaos’”, as the Guardian described it. He “said he had sought to engage with ministers to find a compromise, but without success: ‘The blunt reality is, and I’m sorry to have to say this to the house, I’ve been left in the lurch, as a backbench member trying to improve this legislation.'” Labour’s Yvette Cooper said, “This is an important moment. The House of Commons has tonight voted against the government’s attempt to concentrate power and against letting a small group of ministers take crucial decisions on the details of Brexit without Parliament having a meaningful vote.” Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Huge Turnout for Unite For Europe March in London, to Tell Theresa May and Isolationist Tories that 16 Million of US Say No to Brexit

See my photos on Flickr here!A photo from the Unite for Europe rally outside the Houses of Parliament on March 25, 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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On Saturday March 25, 2017, I joined tens of thousands of supporters of the UK remaining in the EU in Parliament Square, at the rally at the end of the Unite for Europe march that began at Park Lane, and I hope you have time to look at my photos, and to share them if you like them.

The march had been called to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957 by the six founder member states of what became the EU, but it took on an added poignancy because, this Wednesday, Theresa May will trigger Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, officially beginning the two-year process of the UK leaving the EU.

As I have thought ever since the Leave camp secured a small majority in last June’s referendum, the 16.1m of us who voted to stay in the EU need to work relentlessly over the next two years to try and make sure that, if we do leave the EU, we do so in a way that isn’t as economically suicidal as the “hard Brexit” favoured by Theresa May and her chief advisers — David Davis, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox — although my favoured end result, and one I will not waver from seeking relentlessly, is for the Brexit process to be halted when it becomes clear that there is no way for it to take place without destroying our economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Worthless MPs Refuse to Challenge Tyrannical Theresa May on Their Own Right to Vote on Final Brexit Deal or on the Rights of EU Nationals in the UK

Stop Brexit: a composite image produced last June by Marketwatch.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

Another day, another thoroughly depressing example of why, in the post-EU referendum era, the House of Commons seems intent on proving that it no longer has any worth.

In the last two weeks, peers in the House of Lords have voted for two important amendments to the government’s brief bill to allow Theresa May to trigger Article 50, beginning the two-year process of the UK leaving the EU — the first defending the right of the 3.3m EU nationals living and working in the UK to stay here, as I wrote about in my article, House of Lords Defends Right of EU Nationals to Stay in the UK Post-Brexit, as the Tyrant Theresa May Vows to Overturn Amendment, and the second guaranteeing MPs a final vote on the final Brexit deal in 2019, as I wrote about in my article, On Brexit, the House of Lords Do What MPs Wouldn’t Do, and Pass An Amendment Guaranteeing Them A Final, Meaningful Vote on Any Deal to Leave the EU.

Last night, however, MPs voted to drop those amendments, and the House of Lords then complied, paving the way for Theresa May to trigger Article 50 by the end of the month. Read the rest of this entry »

On Brexit, the House of Lords Do What MPs Wouldn’t Do, and Pass An Amendment Guaranteeing Them A Final, Meaningful Vote on Any Deal to Leave the EU

A protest outside the Houses of Parliament on February 20, 2017 (Photo: Andy Rain/EPA).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

Congratulations to the House of Lords, where peers, by 366 votes to 268, have voted to give Parliament a veto over the final outcome of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations, while voting against another amendment to allow a second referendum.

This is the second amendment to the government’s derisorily short Brexit bill, authorising Theresa May to trigger Article 50 and start the two years of negotiating time that is provided for the UK to leave the EU.

Last week, the Lords backed an amendment telling the government to respect the rights of the 3.3m EU citizens living and working in the UK to stay here, and not to treat them as “bargaining chips” in negotiations with the EU, a principled move that I wrote about in my article, House of Lords Defends Right of EU Nationals to Stay in the UK Post-Brexit, as the Tyrant Theresa May Vows to Overturn Amendment. Read the rest of this entry »

House of Lords Defends Right of EU Nationals to Stay in the UK Post-Brexit, as the Tyrant Theresa May Vows to Overturn Amendment

Campaigners for a new initiative, Stop the Silence, launch a new nationwide poster campaign urging the Lords to vote for amendments to the Article 50 bill, and for the public to resist the "hard Brexit" aggressively promoted by Theresa May (Photo: EPA).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

The image above is of campaigners for a new initiative, Stop the Silence (also on Twitter), launching a nationwide poster campaign outside Parliament calling for the Lords to make amendments to the Article 50 bill and for the public to speak out over the government’s “hard Brexit” policy. Check out the video here, and see here for ‘I’m voting against Theresa May’s hard Brexit in the House of Lords this week – go ahead and call me an enemy of the people’, an article by Liberal Democrat peer William Wallace.

Congratulations to the House of Lords for doing what MPs in the House of Commons so dismally failed to do three weeks ago — guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK to stay in the country as Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50, beginning two years of negotiations that will, apparently, end up with us no longer a member of the EU.

For May, the would-be tyrant who inherited Brexit as the unelected leader of the Tories after every other senior Tory resigned or was discredited after the EU referendum last June, the 3.3m EU citizens living and working in the UK are to be treated as “bargaining chips” in negotiations with the EU, allegedly to protect the rights of the 1.2m UK citizens living and working in other EU countries, but in reality because of the tendencies of May and her advisers towards xenophobia and unprovoked belligerence towards our fellow citizens in Europe.

A decent leader would, immediately after the referendum, have guaranteed EU nationals’ right to stay here, taking the moral high ground and exerting pressure on the EU to do the same for UK nationals in other EU countries, but decency no longer exists, I am ashamed to say, and is one of many reasons that the Britain I live in today is turning into a blinkered, inward-looking, self-pitying, isolationist little nation, hopelessly deluded about Britain’s significance in the world, aggressive towards everyone that disagrees with the alleged “will of the people” expressed last June in what was legally nothing more than an advisory referendum, and ruthlessly dedicated to cutting all ties with the EU, even though that will be the single most insane act of economic suicide in the lifetimes of anyone born after the end of the Second World War. Read the rest of this entry »

On Brexit, MPs Give Away Sovereignty, Vote to Allow Theresa May to Do Whatever She Wants

A cartoon (provenance unknown) depicting the dangers of the UK leaving the EU.Please support my work as a freelance investigative journalist and commentator.

 

What a disgrace the majority of MPs have shown themselves to be, as they have voted, by 494 votes to 122, to pass the government’s derisory little bill allowing Theresa May to “notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.”

Although numerous amendments were tabled — seven by Labour, others by other parties — all failed to be passed. On Tuesday, an amendment by Labour’s Chris Leslie, stating that “the government should not be allowed to agree a Brexit deal until it has been passed by both Houses of Parliament,” was defeated by 326 votes to 293 — a majority of 33 — including seven Tory rebels: as well as serial Brexit rebel Ken Clarke, the rebels were Heidi Allen, Bob Neill, Claire Perry, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Andrew Tyrie.

And last night, before the final vote, there was another blow — this one not to the hard-won sovereignty of Parliament, given away by MPs as though it was nothing, but to the three million EU nationals who live and work in the UK, when the amendment by Labour’s Harriet Harman, in her capacity as the chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, guaranteeing EU nationals the right to stay in the UK, was defeated by 332 votes to 290 — a majority of 42. On this amendment, there were three Tory rebels — Ken Clarke, Tania Mathias and Andrew Tyrie. Read the rest of this entry »

YES! The Supreme Court Tells Would-Be Tyrant Theresa May That Act of Parliament is Required to Trigger Article 50 and Leave EU; Now MPs Must Fight to Scrap Brexit

Stop Brexit: a placard from the March for Europe in London on September 3, 2016 (Photo: AFP).Please support my work as a freelance investigative journalist and commentator.

 

Great news from the grown-ups in the room today — the Supreme Court — as the highest judges in the land have confirmed what the High Court ruled nearly three months ago: that the government cannot trigger Article 50 — the mechanism for leaving the EU — without an authorising act of parliament, as Lord Neuberger, the President of the Supreme Court, stated in a summary of the court’s decision, delivered by a majority of 8-3.

As the Guardian described it, Lord Neuberger “said the government generally has a prerogative power to change treaties, but it cannot do that if it will affect people’s rights.” As the summary of the court’s ruling stated, “The change in the law required to implement the referendum’s outcome must be made in the only way permitted by the UK constitution, namely by legislation.”

The judges added, “The Supreme Court holds that an Act of Parliament is required to authorise ministers to give notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.” See the full ruling here.

From the beginning, when Theresa May was the only minister left standing after the bloodbath that followed the EU referendum’s outcome, it was outrageous that a decision that was supposed to be about the importance of restoring sovereignty to the UK was hijacked when May, who had nominally been a Remain supporter, instead revealed herself as a would-be tyrant who was intent on ignoring the fact that sovereignty in the UK resides with Parliament and not with the Prime Minister or her cabinet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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