EU Referendum

Several of the media report on the Labour Party’s U-turn on this matter.

The Sunday Times says:

LABOUR today abandons its opposition to a European referendum, performing a U-turn after Ed Miliband crashed to defeat refusing to give the public a say on the EU.

In a boost for David Cameron, Labour’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, has revealed the opposition will vote for the government’s planned referendum bill to give the green light to a nationwide vote before the end of 2017.

In an article for The Sunday Times, Harman and Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, finally admit voters want their say on Britain’s relationship with Brussels for the first time in more than 40 years.

“We have now had a general election and reflected on the conversations we had on doorsteps throughout the country,” they say.

Sky News reports on the Times story:

Labour has dropped its opposition to a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

Before his General Election defeat, Ed Miliband, as party leader, had refused to hold an in/out vote amid concerns it would damage the UK economy because of the uncertainty it would create.

But the party’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, and shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, now say Labour believes people want to have a say on Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

It means the opposition will give the green light to the Conservatives’ planned referendum bill for a nationwide vote before the end of 2017.

In an article for The Sunday Times, the pair wrote: “We have now had a general election and reflected on the conversations we had on doorsteps throughout the country.

And the Guardian’s take on the matter is:

Labour has dropped its opposition to an in/out referendum on EU membership, the party’s acting leader has said.

Acting leader Harriet Harman said on Sunday her party would now support David Cameron’s planned referendum bill, clearing a path for a UK-wide ballot by the end of 2017.

It marks an about-turn for the party, which had rejected the idea under Ed Miliband’s leadership during the general election campaign.

Human Rights Act

The Telegraph claims there is a schism in the Conservative Party over their plans to scrap this act.

A member of the government has threatened to resign over David Cameron’s plan to scrap European human rights laws.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Conservative figure said the proposals would undermine vital protections for British citizens who can use the European Court of Human Rights to appeal against injustices they suffer in the UK.

The individual suggested it may be necessary to resign in order to vote against the Tory plan to abolish the Human Rights Act in the House of Commons.

“I will probably oppose it,” the government figure said. “The idea that my constituents should have fewer protections available as a last resort is not something that I can accept.”

The Tory predicted that the government would lose the vote on the plans in the Commons, spelling “the end of the honeymoon period” for Mr Cameron’s new administration.

Brexit

The Telegraph reports a comment by former Conservative cabinet minister Owen Paterson that leaving the EU could be good for the country.

Owen Paterson, the former Conservative Cabinet minister, has said that leaving the European Union could boost the British economy.

Speaking after the Bank of England accidentally emailed details of its secret plan to investigate the impact of quitting the EU, Mr Paterson said it was wrong to suggest that the banking industry would be threatened by the move.

Saying Britain could remain a key member of a revitalised single market within Europe while freeing itself from political and judicial involvement with the rest of Europe, he added the new role could be “positive” for the country and the economy.

He told Radio 4’s Today Programme leaving the European Union did not mean quitting the European Economic Area, made up of the 28 countries of the EU along with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, or the European single market, which Britain voted to join in the last referendum in 1975.

“The European Union is a political construct, and the jobs and the prosperity are delivered by the market,” he said.

“We have an opportunity to get back to the arrangement we voted to join in 1975 and … very importantly we can completely regalvanise the single market in areas such as services which we completely need.

Terror groups

The Express reports that a Western jihadist has warn British extremists not to join terror groups

A WESTERN Islamic terror fighter has warned young Britons not to join Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda splinter group once courted by Jihadi John.

The jihadist, who calls himself Ibrahim, claims the Somalia-based group is on the verge of imploding, torn apart by an internal civil war which has seen its leaders turn on its foreign members.

Some foreigners are tortured, imprisoned or even crucified, while others, on a CIA kill list, have been assassinated.

Ibrahim has now turned his back on the terror group and is living in hiding with his identity protected.

He joined the movement after watching Al Shabaab’s propaganda videos and following news of battles between Somali militants and a US-backed African peacekeeping force. He wanted to see the country establish Sharia law.

Initially, he said, foreign fighters were welcomed and by 2010 there were 100 jihadis from the UK among the 450 Western fighters.

White South Africans

The Express claims that thousands of white South Africans could come to Europe.

EUROPE could be overrun by white South Africans who believe they have “the right to return” to Europe, according to a shocking petition.

It calls on the European Commission (EC) to allow all white South Africans to obtain automatic European citizenship.

The petition has already gained more than 1,000 supporters in just half a day.

Rodrigo de Campos, who started the campaign, is gaining support for his belief that the “white South African population currently faces ethnic cleansing and persecutions” at the hands of the ruling ANC government, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party and “various individual anti-white aggressors”.

He also says: “Over 4000 white farmers have been brutally murdered, often including torture and rape and mutilation.”

An increasing number of supporters believe the solution to this is for white South African’s – and white Zimbabweans and Namibians – to be allowed to “return” to whatever nation the majority of their ancestors are from – which in most cases is the Netherlands or the UK.

The petition compares white South Africans to Jews being allowed citizenship in Israel.

It says: “Based on the Israeli government’s policy of allowing all Jews the right to return to Israel, we believe it is not only advisable but morally obligatory that Europe should allow all white South Africans the right to return.”

Brexit

Following the leak of a Bank of England report on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the bank is under pressure to publish that report, claims the Guardian.

The head of an influential parliamentary committee has demanded the Bank of England publish its secret probe into the impact of an EU referendum, warning that it should expect a thorough examination of the report by MPs.

Andrew Tyrie, who heads the Treasury select committee, said MPs would demand to interview Sir Jon Cunliffe and other officials involved in the planned project, which was uncovered after Threadneedle Street’s chief press officer accidentally emailed details to The Guardian.

Tyrie, who is hoping to be re-elected as chairman of the committee when parliament reconvenes, said he was concerned that some people inside the bank believed the research, known as Project Bookend, could escape interrogation by MPs.

He said: “The next Treasury committee would want to examine this actively. The bank will be expected to provide a view on how the substantive issues bear on its mandate,” he said.

Tyrie’s intervention will put further pressure on the bank to reveal the scope and timescale of its investigation into the impact of an EU referendum. Bank officials plan to examine the potential impact of a no vote on the City and financial markets.

HS2

The Independent reports the fury of the SNP as the plans for the high-speed rail line do not go north of the border.

The £50bn High Speed Two rail link will not be extended to Scotland, as the team behind the project has found there is “no business case” for the undertaking.

The Scottish National Party reacted with fury when The Independent on Sunday passed on the news, its Transport spokesman Drew Hendry describing it as a “snub” to Scotland that ignored the “undeniable economic case” of a new railway linking London to Glasgow and Edinburgh. When the then Transport secretary Lord Adonis launched HS2 in 2009, he claimed it would be “the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity”.

But HS2 is currently focused on reducing journey times from London to Birmingham to 49 minutes, before it splits into lines to Manchester and Leeds over two phases. However, it was hoped that HS2 would still ultimately reach Scotland, so commuters could travel from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London in three hours, against about four-and-a-half hours today.

MPs salaries

The People reports that David Cameron wants to freeze ministers’ pay for five years.

David Cameron wants the pay of his ­ministers frozen for a further five years, the Sunday People can reveal.

This would mean that by 2020 they would not have had a rise for a decade.

The Prime Minister is also warning new MPs he will be ­opposing pay increases for them, too.

A Cabinet minister will have to continue struggling by on £134,565 a year. 

The PM said: “There are still difficult decisions to take as we clear the deficit.

“We will do it in a one-nation way. We are all in this together.”

Mr Cameron said the freeze will save taxpayers £800,000 a year.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has recommended MPs should this year have a 10% increase on their £67,500 ­salaries, taking them to £74,250.

But Mr Cameron said the proposed rise is too much and has urged IPSA to look at its proposal again.

Proportional representation

In the Mirror, columnist Nigel Nelson argues for a change in the voting system.

Every new Parliament sees ancient ceremonies wheeled out which seem out of place in 21st Century Britain.

Get a load of this old twaddle from Lord Privy Seal Tina Stowell confirming John Bercow as Commons Speaker.

She told him: “Her Majesty is fully sensible of your zeal in the public service and of your ample sufficiency.”

Even at 89 Her Maj indeed appears fully sensible, but this is still OTT. Tina added: “Her Majesty will ever place the most favourable construction upon your words.”

Will she? If so it’s more than Her Majesty’s Prime Minister does. David Cameron dismisses Bercow as a little oik, an attitude which diminishes them both.

It is, of course, another name for the Leader of the House of Lords. And the medieval title establishes Tina in one of the top five great officers of state.

That’s important to the constitution. Cameron can alter the status of the Lords Leader in his Cabinet, but he can’t mess with the Lord Privy Seal.

Our constitution evolved over centuries and it’s like a brick wall. Take too many bricks out and it might fall down.

So politicians abolish fancy titles and stilted language at their peril. They might discover replacements won’t work. But if some things shouldn’t change that doesn’t mean nothing can ever change.

And the time has come for voting reform after four million voters backed Ukip and got just one MP.

The Greens also have one MP but their support was not far behind Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP which ended up with 56 seats.

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