Raab to update MPs on Brexit negotiations
The Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, is expected to brief the Commons today on the state of Brexit negotiations, for the first time since Theresa May gave her “we stand ready” Brexit speech, and since the Conservative party conference which saw her Chequers proposal attacked on several fronts.
Sources in Raab’s department reportedly signalled a speech would take place on Tuesday, coming after Labour MPs accused the government of trying to ‘duck out’ of their responsibilities of updating parliament.
Labour had said that the PM was “trying to avoid public scrutiny and duck her responsibilities” after Downing Street had stated parliament would not be updated on the fallout from the Salzburg summit because it was an “informal” EU summit.
A Labour source told the Guardian: “How is the country meant to have confidence in the prime minister’s Brexit plan when she isn’t even willing to come to parliament to defend it? Sending the Brexit secretary to take the flak simply isn’t good enough.”
But MPs may not see new Brexit plans before the EU does…
Downing street admitted on Monday that MPs may not be shown fresh Brexit proposals – regarding the Irish border issue deadlock – before EU leaders are, prompting one pro-EU MP to predict and “uproar” in parliament if this was to take place.
EU leaders such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron could potentially give their approval to plans which have not been seen by MPs, which would likely cause outrage in the Commons, considering the level of transparency which is expected on Brexit from the PM and her Brexit cabinet.
UK government ended opposition to the death penalty to appease the US
A high court has been told this week that the home secretary, Sajid Javid, decided to cooperate with US president Donald Trump in prosecuting the two alleged Islamic State fighters El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, without assurances that they would not face the death penalty, in order to avoid “political outrage” from the Trump administration.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, who represents the mother of Elsheikh, said that the decision to cooperate with the US despite the lack of assurances was in defiance of advice from both the Foreign Office and senior civil servants. The high court was told that the move also went against the policy of previous home secretaries Theresa May and Amber Rudd, both of whom had sought advice in the case of both suspects.
Should celebrities get involved in politics?
Speaking of the US – singer Taylor Swift caused a storm on Sunday night when she used an Instagram post to support Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, two Democratic candidates for the Senate and US House in her home state of Tennessee.
Originally the singer had said in an interview with Time magazine: “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people”, but on Sunday she wrote a lengthy post to her 112m followers, saying she feels “very differently about that now”.
Swift attacked the voting record of opposing Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, saying: “her voting record in Congress appals and terrifies me.”
Celebrities getting involved in politics is nothing new, of course, and in the Trump era, celebrities’ political leanings seem to be scrutinised even more. Most singers seemingly rejected calls to get involved in any way with the inauguration of Trump, leaving only musicians with relative obscurity to perform at the ceremony – George Bush managed to get Beyonce-led group Destiny’s Child along to his big day.
Going back even further, the newly-elected Tony Blair’s public persona saw a push from Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, after the rock star attended a party thrown at Downing Street, pushing ahead the message of ‘Cool Britannia’ that surrounded the early years of Blair rule. Two decades later, Gallagher now says he would “have to get the band back together” to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming the next prime minister. How times change.
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