Brexit postponed, again? The Finnish Prime Minister and current EU Council President Antti Rinne, expects Brexit to be postponed once again. It appears that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has only now understood “what a mess this is and he is having difficulty in making a proposal to get out of it,” the socialist told German paper Welt am Sonntag. “That is why I fear that the October summit could be more about an extension than bringing concrete solutions to the situation,” Rinne added.
"Before last Wednesday humbug had fallen out of favour from parliamentary usage. MPs used the word, on average, once every 127 days since 2010. But the term has been freely bandied about since last week, after Boris Johnson disreputably accused Paula Sheriff, a female Labour MP, of “humbug” because she had complained about the death threats she receives which quote his words. Originally slang from the 18th century that became common currency in Victorian England, humbug was best defined by the philosopher Max Black as an act of “deceptive misrepresentation”. Describing someone’s speech as humbug is not calling them a liar. It is, in some ways, worse. A liar and a truth-teller both respond to the facts. An honest person is guided by the authority of the truth, while a liar defies that authority. A humbugger pays no attention to the truth, preferring their own reality. Mr Johnson is probably the most successful humbugger in British political life.
The prime minister revels in a form of scepticism that denies the idea that the public can have any reliable access to the truth and therefore we ought to reject the possibility of knowing, with any accuracy, how things are. Mr Johnson’s political strategy is to harden others’ positions and define compromise as defeat. He wants leavers to believe that a cost-free version of Brexit exists, which they are being denied through parliamentary incompetence and conspiracy. Mr Johnson trades in an unsubtle level of insinuation and threat. To MPs who defy him, and resist getting Brexit done by 31 October he warns that the country will remain “divided and angry”. This is hardly a person who wants to bring the country together by taking into account the diversity of views around Brexit. It is more like a mob boss saying “that’s a nice country you have, it would be a shame if something happened to it”.
This strongman image has been carefully cultivated. Mr Johnson’s doctrine seems to be whatever the prime minister does is by definition legal. If parliament attempts to compel him to extend Brexit to avoid a damaging no deal, Mr Johnson does not dissuade his audience from thinking there are wheezes available to him to dodge the law. He raises the possibility of a “backlash” against the supreme court because it dared, correctly, to void his decision to suspend parliament for five weeks at a moment of crisis. Mr Johnson plainly believes he has the right to ignore investigations against him. And to Ms Sheriff he offered a classic non-apology about being “sorry” if anyone misunderstood his words.
Mr Johnson appears to do anything for a crowd, gleefully dismissing “gloomsters” with the farcical promise of Brexit’s sunlit uplands. His political persona is well suited to being a fake tribune of the people. Mr Johnson isn’t bound by the truth. When he is not fabricating, he is exaggerating. It is a symptom of the current Brexit malaise that so many people seem willing to be taken in by Mr Johnson, provided there is entertainment to be had. The 2016 referendum was driven by conspiracy theories suggesting the EU had hidden plans to be a superstate, that it wanted an army and the vote would be rigged. The political and economic impacts of leaving the EU were – and still are – shrouded in conspiracy. Mr Johnson’s eye is not on the facts. There is no credible deal with the EU on what Mr Johnson said were “abundant, abundant technical fixes” for the Irish border. The prime minister seems unfazed by the prospect of food and medicine shortages and public disorder envisaged by government officials. The facts are only pertinent to Mr Johnson’s interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether his words describe reality correctly. It is a tragedy that he can so easily just pick them out, or make them up, to suit his purpose whatever the cost to the country."
And we, the citizenry can do little but wait for the next month to go by in order to find out what our fate is going to be . . .
The Wigtown Book Festival is on at the moment – has just started in fact – and today we went to sit at the feet of Brian Bilston, well known for his poems and now the author of a book called “The Diary of a Somebody“. The talk was given in the old County Building and we saw announced at the top of the screen the name of the outfit providing sub-titles, about which we had not known beforehand, but which to me was a great boon.
Mr Bilston talked first about and read from his book of poems, “You took the Last Bus Home” and I was able to follow what he said very well. The only downside being that sub-titles don’t allow for tone of voice, speed of delivery, or pauses, or the timing of the foregoing with changes of facial or body expression. Technically this is known as “latency” and it is what makes BBC News and Weather so difficult to understand, because the titles are always, and inevitably behind the speaker’s delivery. So, in the case of the weather forecast, you are hearing about Tuesday, or quite possibly Monday, whilst the speaker is well on into Wednesday. And, sometimes if the apparatus gets hung up on a particular word or expression the whole thing just stops, so that on resumption you have missed whole paragraphs. If it is the the News you are watching, and the newsreader passes on to a new topic the sub-titling for the previous topic just ceases.
It is therefore pleasing to report that in this instance the sub-titles kept up with the speaker extraordinarily well and demonstrated convincingly that the BBC, who claim to be developing their systems all the time are in fact way behind the times.
On the way home we stopped at the Galloway Fisherman at Carsluith and had a beautiful meal. My offering began with a mackerel fillet starter and passed smoothly on to prawns in linguine. Excellent. Then from the sublime to the gorblimey, we called in at Tesco and did grocery shopping.
A somewhat more constructive version of overseas aid than some you see in the world of politics and the media.
Embrace has been working in war-torn countries for many years. Often people urgently need food, access to safe water or medical supplies. But sometimes what people need is a second chance. A chance for someone whose life has been devastated to build themselves up again when everything has been taken away.
When we met JoJo, pictured above with his family, that’s exactly what he was desperate for. A chance to start again after ISIS took everything he had. JoJo is from Iraq and although I wouldn’t say JoJo is a proud man, I think you will understand why he says that he doesn’t want hand-outs. JoJo used to live in a small town in northern Iraq. It was a friendly town, the kind of place where everybody knows everybody and where there was also a strong Christian community. Running a small local business JoJo worked hard providing for his family. His mobile cobbler stall provided a good living and his children were doing well in school. But that is all in the past. In the blink of an eye everything changed. When ISIS captured the Christian town of Teleskuf, JoJo and his family had no choice but to flee for their lives. ‘They came and took everything away,’ JoJo told us.
JoJo is desperate to get back on his feet again. He wants to be the breadwinner for his family that he always was. Without his income, his family can’t survive. JoJo doesn’t want hand-outs. He knows how to run a small business. He knows how to be successful, but he needs help to get started.
People like JoJo and his family are still facing abject poverty. They have spent years away from their home running from place to place, dealing with crisis after crisis – trying to keep safe. But a helping hand to get his business started again would give his family security and JoJo’s children could go back to school.
Embrace is one of those charities you seldom hear about. Until recently they were known as "The Bible Lands Society", and you may have gone carol singing or been to a carol service where the words were on the Bethlehem Carol Sheet, in which case you were using an Embrace resource (in the modern parlance). Embrace has been working in the Middle East for more than a century, but I doubt, Dear Reader, that you even knew it existed ?
I, personally, support Embrace, if you feel you would like to know more please follow the hyperlink.
A very good piece from"The National" about the prorogation court case in Scotland . . .
I do like the bit about "woad painted Nats" !!
11th September Andrew Tickell: Why 3 Scots judges saw through the Tory lie By Andrew Tickell
“THE Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.” That was the shock verdict of three judges of the Inner House of the Court of Session on Wednesday. For their different reasons, Lords Carloway, Brodie and Drummond Young all concluded that the Prime Minister’s sleekit prorogation for five weeks through October was unlawful.
We don’t have a full judgment yet. That’s going to be published on Friday. But even the judicial summary was stinging. This Court of Session bench wasn’t buying Boris Johnson’s spin, and they weren’t prepared to embrace the old-school, “hands-off” approach of Lord Doherty last week.
Take the case back to first principles. The petitioners argued that Johnson acted unlawfully. They hoped to call him to account in an action for judicial review.
How? It’s long been recognised that prime ministers have the constitutional authority to advise the Queen to prorogue Parliament. Surely Johnson was just exercising this discretion? Up to a point. But the courts have also – for some years – demanded that decision-makers in public life exercise their powers within lawful bounds. That doesn’t mean that anything they do which has a superficial appearance of legality is A-OK. Intention matters.
If a local authority, a planning committee, a minister, or even a prime minister takes a decision on the basis of improper or unconstitutional purposes, the courts can intervene. That isn’t a principle unique to Scots law. It has long been the position of English courts too.
So what was Boris Johnson’s true purpose in proroguing Parliament through October? Was this purpose consistent with Britain’s (admittedly fragmented) constitutional values?
Everyone and their dog – Brexiteer or diehard Remoaner – knows exactly what Number 10 was doing when it decided to bring the parliamentary session to an early close this week.
The official paper trail – produced by the UK Government in the course of the case – only tended to confirm the mendacity of the UK Government’s position.
The papers showed Boris Johnson’s administration denied it had any intention to prorogue Parliament in public, when arrangements to do precisely this were already in train. This was a lie. The idea that Parliament was prorogued because the Tories’ domestic agenda needs the boost of a new Queen’s Speech doesn’t even have the hallmarks of superficial plausibility.
In Edinburgh on Wednesday, three Court of Session judges called out this mendacity and implausibility. For Lord Carloway, the “true purpose” of the prorogation was clearly “to stymie parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, which was a central pillar of the good governance principle enshrined in the constitution”. More articles
For Drummond Young, "it was incumbent on the UK Government to show a valid reason for the prorogation”. The circumstances, the judge concluded, showed Johnson’s true purpose was “to prevent” and “restrict” legitimate parliamentary scrutiny of the UK Government behaviour.
The sharpest words came from Lord Brodie. For him, “this was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities”. The “principal reasons for the prorogation”, he said, “were to prevent or impede Parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit”. And who can credibly disagree with him?
This was a surprise outcome. At the outset of this litigation, I thought it stood a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding – but the odds have evened up as the arguments have been aired and tested, and the dodgy paper trail of the UK Government has been revealed.
The judgment has thrown the UK Government’s spinners and political outriders into a frenzy. Some are attempting to imply that the Court of Session is some kind of hotbed for constitutional radicals. This is not only a slur on the professional integrity of three of Scotland’s most experienced judicial figures – it is a bad joke. The idea that Lords Carloway, Brodie and Drummond Young are woad-painted Nats is for the birds.
But the ultimate outcome of this case is no sure thing. The last word on the legality of the Prime Minister’s behaviour will go to the Supreme Court in London. On the 17th of September, the justices will decide whether to side with Lord Carloway and his two colleagues, or with Lord Doherty and the judges of the High Court in England and Wales, who concluded the prorogation was lawful. For the gamblers amongst you, this case may be worth a bet either way.