UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation Releases Clips to Mark Kristallnacht

UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has released clips to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of Kristallnacht. This was a state sponsored attack on Jewish businesses and communities, with many shops being damaged and destroyed. 30,000 Jews were also arrested on the same weekend and imprisoned in numerous concentration camps.

Ed Balls, the former Shadow Chancellor and the co-chairman of the Foundation said in a statement:

“Kristallnacht was a moment where prejudice turned into violence, and it is right 80 years on, that we examine this vicious escalation of the Nazi campaign against Jewish communities in Europe. By understanding the steps that lead up to the Holocaust, we are can remain vigilant to any attempt to create divisions and stir up hate in our society today”.

Lord Pickles, the former Communities Secretary and the co-chairman of the Foundation, added in a statement:

“The Foundation was set up to increase the visibility and scope of Holocaust education in the United Kingdom, securing the legacy of the British Holocaust survivors who have dedicated their lives to educating the future generation on where prejudice, intolerance and hatred can lead.

Our hope is that the short film released today, with moving testimony from men and women who recall the impact of Kristallnacht on their own communities, is a small step in achieving these aims”.

Jo Johnson Resigns From Government Over Brexit

Jo Johnson, the Minister of State for Transport, has resigned from the Government over Brexit, calling for a second referendum. He said that it wouldn’t be a second vote, but a vote on whether to accept whatever deal is achieved.

Johnson said in a statement:

“Brexit has divided the country. It has divided political parties. And it has divided families too. Although I voted Remain, I have desperately wanted the Government, in which I have been proud to serve, to make a success of Brexit: to reunite our country, our party and, yes, my family too. At times, I believed this was possible. That’s why I voted to start the Article 50 process and for two years have backed the Prime Minister in her efforts to secure the best deal for the country. But it has become increasingly clear to me that the Withdrawal Agreement, which is being finalised in Brussels and Whitehall even as I write, will be a terrible mistake.

Indeed, the choice being presented to the British people is no choice at all. The first option is the one the Government is proposing: an agreement that will leave our country economically weakened, with no say in the EU rules it must follow and years of uncertainty for business. The second option is a “no deal” Brexit that I know as a Transport Minister will inflict untold damage on our nation. To present the nation with a choice between two deeply unattractive outcomes, vassalage and chaos, is a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis. My constituents in Orpington deserve better than this from their Government.

What is now being proposed won’t be anything like what was promised two years ago.

Hopes for “the easiest trade deal in history” have proved to be delusions. Contrary to promises, there is in fact no deal at all on our future trading relationship with the EU which the government can present to the country. Still less anything that offers the “exact same benefits” as the Single Market, as David Davis promised, or the “precise guarantees of frictionless trade” that the Prime Minister assured us would be available. All that is now being finalised is the agreement to pay the EU tens of billions of pounds. All that may be on offer on trade is the potential for an agreement to stay in a temporary customs arrangement while we discuss the possibility of an EU trade deal that all experience shows will take many years to negotiate.

Even if we eventually secure a customs arrangement for trade in goods, it will be bad news for the service sector — for firms in finance, in IT, in communications and digital technology. Maintaining access to EU markets for goods is important, but we are fundamentally a services economy. Many in Orpington, for example, are among the two million Britons employed in financial services, commuting into the centre of London to jobs of all kinds in the City. Countries across the world go to great lengths to attract financial and professional services jobs from our shores. An agreement that sharply reduces access to EU markets for financial services — or leaves us vulnerable to regulatory change over which we will have no influence — will hurt my constituents and damage one of our most successful sectors.

While we wait to negotiate trading terms, the rules of the game will be set solely by the EU. Britain will lose its seat at the table and its ability to amend or vote down rules it opposes. Instead of Britain “taking back control”, we will cede control to other European countries. This democratic deficit inherent in the Prime Minister’s proposal is a travesty of Brexit. When we were told Brexit meant taking back powers for Parliament, no one told my constituents this meant the French parliament and the German parliament, not our own. In these circumstances, we must ask what we are achieving. William Hague once described the goal of Conservative policy as being “in Europe, but not run by Europe”. The government’s proposals will see us out of Europe, yet run by Europe, bound by rules which we will have lost a hand in shaping.

Worse still, there is no real clarity about how this situation will ever end. The proposed Withdrawal Agreement parks many of the biggest issues about our future relationship with Europe into a boundless transitionary period. This is a con on the British people: there is no evidence that the kind of Brexit that we’ve failed to negotiate while we are still members can be magically agreed once the UK has lost its seat at the table. The leverage we have as a full member of the EU will have gone. We will be in a far worse negotiating position than we are today. And we will have still failed to resolve the fundamental questions that are ramping up uncertainties for businesses and stopping them investing for the future.

My brother Boris, who led the leave campaign, is as unhappy with the Government’s proposals as I am. Indeed he recently observed that the proposed arrangements were “substantially worse than staying in the EU”. On that he is unquestionably right. If these negotiations have achieved little else, they have at least united us in fraternal dismay.

The argument that the government will present for the Withdrawal Agreement ‘deal’ is not that it is better for Britain than our current membership. The Prime Minister knows that she cannot honestly make the claim that the deal is an improvement on Britain’s current arrangements with the EU and, to her credit, refuses to do so. The only case she can try to make is that it is better than the alternative of leaving the EU with no deal at all.

Certainly, I know from my own work at the Department of Transport the potential chaos that will follow a “no deal” Brexit. It will cause disruption, delay and deep damage to our economy. There are real questions about how we will be able to guarantee access to fresh food and medicine if the crucial Dover-Calais trade route is clogged up. The government may have to take control of prioritising which lorries and which goods are allowed in and out of the country, an extraordinary and surely unworkable intervention for a government in an advanced capitalist economy. The prospect of Kent becoming the Lorry Park of England is very real in a no deal scenario. Orpington residents bordering Kent face disruption from plans to use the nearby M26, connecting the M25 to the M20, as an additional queuing area for heavy goods vehicles backed up all the way from the channel ports. This prospect alone would be a resigning matter for me as a constituency MP, but it is just a facet of a far greater problem facing the nation.

Yet for all its challenges and for all the real pain it would cause us as we adapt to new barriers to trade with our biggest market, we can ultimately survive these difficulties. I believe it would be a grave mistake for the government to ram through this deal by once again unleashing Project Fear. A “no deal” outcome of this sort may well be better than the never ending purgatory the Prime Minister is offering the country. But my message to my brother and to all Leave campaigners is that inflicting such serious economic and political harm on the country will leave an indelible impression of incompetence in the minds of the public. It cannot be what you wanted nor did the 2016 referendum provide any mandate for it.

Given that the reality of Brexit has turned out to be so far from what was once promised, the democratic thing to do is to give the public the final say. This would not be about re-running the 2016 referendum, but about asking people whether they want to go ahead with Brexit now that we know the deal that is actually available to us, whether we should leave without any deal at all or whether people on balance would rather stick with the deal we already have inside the European Union.

To those who say that is an affront to democracy given the 2016 result, I ask this. Is it more democratic to rely on a three year old vote based on what an idealised Brexit might offer, or to have a vote based on what we know it does actually entail?

A majority of Orpington voters chose to leave the EU in 2016 and many of the close friends I have there, among them hard-working local Conservative Party members, are passionately pro-Brexit. I respect their position. But I know from meetings I have had with local members that many are as dismayed as me by the course of negotiations and about the actual choice now on offer. Two and a half years on, the practical Brexit options are now clear and the public should be asked to choose between the different paths facing our country: we will all have different positions on that choice, but I think many in my local party, in the Orpington constituency and around the country would welcome having the last word on the Government’s Brexit proposals.

Britain stands on the brink of the greatest crisis since the Second World War. My loyalty to my party is undimmed. I have never rebelled on any issue before now. But my duty to my constituents and our great nation has forced me to act. I have today written to the Prime Minister asking her to accept my resignation from the Government. It is now my intention to vote against this Withdrawal Agreement. I reject this false choice between the PM’s deal and “no deal” chaos. On this most crucial of questions, I believe it is entirely right to go back to the people and ask them to confirm their decision to leave the EU and, if they choose to do that, to give them the final say on whether we leave with the Prime Minister’s deal or without it.

To do anything less will do grave damage to our democracy”.

Labour Warn of Poor NHS Figures in Accident and Emergency

Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has warned the Government following the release of NHS statistics which showed worsening figures in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.

Ashworth said in a statement:

“Today’s figures reveal an NHS under continued, intense pressure with dismal consequences for patients. We are heading into winter on the back of the worst October on record for A&E and 12 hour waits for hospital admission from the summer onwards being around twice as high as 2017.

What’s more, with over 550,000 patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment, often in pain and distress, ministers cannot continue ducking their responsibilities towards bringing constitutional waiting time standards back under control.

There wasn’t a penny extra for hospitals this winter in the Budget, yet ministers are quickly ratcheting up uncosted promises from the NHS budget over the next five years.

Patients waiting longer and longer in pain for treatment want action now and will expect the Secretary of State to outline a plan to reduce waiting lists and ensure the four hour target is met.”

Prime Minister Pays Respect to War Dead in Belgium and France

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has paid respects on behalf of the nation to those who died in Belgium and France during the First World War. She attended ceremonies with Emmanuel Macron, the French President, and Charles Michel, the Belgian Prime Minister, to mark the event. She also laid wreaths at the graves of John Parr and George Ellison, the first and last soldiers to die in the conflict.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“A century ago British forces fought side by side with our allies in Europe on the Western Front. Today in France and Belgium we reflect on our shared history, but also look ahead to our shared future, built on peace, prosperity and friendship.

At St Symphorien I will have the honour of laying a wreath on behalf of a nation at the graves of both John Parr and George Ellison, the first and last UK soldiers to die during the War. That their graves lie opposite each other is a fitting and poignant symbol that brings home the eternal bond between them, and every member of the Armed Forces who gave their lives to protect what we hold so dear.

We remember the heroes who lost their lives in the horror of the trenches. As the sun sets on one hundred years of remembrance, we will never forget their sacrifice”.

Emily Dawes, Student Union President at Southampton, Calls for War Memorial to be Painted Over

Emily Dawes, the President of Southampton Students’ Union, has said that a war memorial at the university should be painted over. The memorial was painted in 1916 and is a tribute to those who died in the First World War and never received their university degree. Dawes threatened to paint the memorial over herself if the university didn’t agree to do so.

After a series of Twitter posts asking Dawes to reconsider her position to avoid causing offense to those who died in the war, she posted on Twitter:

“As white people, we are so so ignorant and closed minded without even realising it”.

The University of Southampton rejected the President’s comments and said in a statement:

“The comments made by the Students’ Union President regarding the Rothenstein Mural are not shared by the University of Southampton and do not represent the views of the University community”.

The Students’ Union also distanced themselves from the comments made by President, saying in a statement:

“This does not follow our mission or values”.

Prime Minister Meets with Premier Li of China

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with Premier Li of China, in a meeting at Brussels. The two discussed the future economic ties between the two countries as well as the currently controversial matter of political activity in Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The two leaders began by discussing the Prime Minister’s successful visit to China earlier this year, when she had been joined by a UK trade delegation.

They discussed the opportunity to build further upon that visit, and the golden era in UK-China relations. Premier Li said he looked forward to ushering in a diamond era in the relationship.

The Prime Minister updated Premier Li on the Brexit negotiations. She said she looked forward to further strengthening our economic ties with China, including our trade relationship, in the future.

The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s firm commitment to the rules based international system, including the importance of freedom of navigation and maritime security, in line with international law.

On Hong Kong, they agreed on the continued importance of one country, two systems”.

Shock Turnout of Over 650,000 at People’s Vote Rally in London

There has been an unexpectedly high turnout at the People’s Vote Rally in London today, which was initially expected to be attended by around 100,000 people. Estimates from the organisers suggest that the number of attendees is over 650,000 people, many of which are younger voters. A rival Leave Means Leave rally is though to have been attended by just over 1,200 people.

Lord Adonis, a Labour Peer, said:

“This week’s fresh chaos and confusion over Brexit negotiations has exposed how even the best deal now available will be a bad one for Britain”.

Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, said:

“Absolutely fantastic to see such huge numbers at the People’s Vote March. The rally in Parliament Square starting shortly!”

The Prime Minister has yet to comment on the rally.

Prime Ministers Speaks to Business Leaders on Brexit

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with 130 business leaders to put forwards her vision for Brexit. She discussed the progress which had been made in the negotiations and accepted that there were still numerous areas where agreement hadn’t been reached.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“First, she recognised the importance of these discussions for businesses, their supply chains and clients. She outlined that the Government’s proposed future relationship with the EU would preserve the UK’s and EU’s frictionless access to each other’s markets for goods, protecting jobs and livelihoods on both sides.

She set out the significant progress that has been made on the Withdrawal Agreement and on our future relationship with the EU. She acknowledged that there were a few significant issues that were still outstanding, but said that the very real sense she had from leaders around the table at the Council was that they wanted to reach a deal as soon as possible this autumn.

Second, the Prime Minister spoke about the Northern Irish backstop, which is intended to guarantee that – in the unlikely event that there is a delay in bringing into effect our future relationship by the end of the implementation period at the end of December 2020 – there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. If required, this would therefore only be necessary for a temporary period to act as a bridge to the future relationship.

The Prime Minister explained that the UK could not accept the EU’s proposal which included an arrangement in which Northern Ireland could be kept in a separate customs territory to the rest of the UK. She advised that our proposal included a UK-wide joint customs territory with the EU for the duration of the backstop, which would protect the integrity of the UK and deliver on the commitment to avoid a hard border with Ireland. She emphasised that both sides wanted to have our future relationship in place by the end of December 2020 so that the backstop never needed to be used, but that the negotiating teams would work intensively on this to find a way forward.

Finally, she urged businesses not to lose sight of the prize – that of a smooth trading relationship with the EU alongside the ability to seek new opportunities and open up new markets with trading partners around the world.

The Prime Minister took questions from businesses and representative bodies (Centrica, EY, Diageo, Enterprise Nation, RBS, Federation of Small Businesses, ITV, Aston Martin, Barratt Developments and Tesco) on topics such as the importance of frictionless trade, the implementation period and opportunities for the future.

A number of businesses thanked the Prime Minister for the opportunity to speak with her directly on the Brexit negotiations”.

Jeremy Corbyn Pays Tribute to Fire Brigades Union

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has paid tribute to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) on its one hundredth anniversary. Speaking at an event to mark the anniversary, Corbyn commended the work that the union had done to improve standards.

Corbyn said:

“I pay tribute to the Fire Brigades Union on its 100th anniversary, and I am proud to be attending the Centenary Service to celebrate the work, bravery and sacrifice of firefighters across the UK. We are all much safer today because of our firefighters’ tireless work over that hundred years.

The FBU’s outstanding record underlines the vital role of trade unions in standing up for workers and changing the lives of millions of people for the better.

The FBU has been at the heart of the Labour Party as an affiliate for most of its existence and a key part of the labour movement.

I am proud to lead a Labour Party that is supported by the FBU and its members campaigning for worker’s rights, social justice and defending our public services.

We all know that you cannot keep the public safe on the cheap. As we pay tribute to the work that our firefighters do in keeping us all safe, we must make sure that debt is repaid – so that the fire service is funded properly and that these brave and dedicated public service workers are treated with the respect they deserve.

Firefighters have lost faith in this Tory government. Tory austerity is putting the public at risk and damaging an essential professional public service.

Firefighters dealt with more incidents, more fires and saw more fire deaths last year than for most of the last decade in England, yet the Tories continue to starve fire authorities of the central funding necessary to keep the public safe.

Cuts have consequences, and we cannot afford to cut these vital public services. Since 2010, one-in-five firefighter jobs have been cut. In England, that is almost 9,000 frontline firefighter jobs. That means fewer firefighters at the early stages of incidents, slower response times and greater risk to the public.

These dreadful figures confirm firefighters’ worst fears. Austerity is putting public safety at risk.”

Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the FBU, said at the event:

“This is a once in a generation event, the largest of its kind, which will celebrate the fire and rescue service, our union and commemorate the friends we have lost along the way.

When our union was first formed firefighters lived on stations, had the most basic protective equipment and were paid less than unskilled labourers. Today’s fire service is far from perfect but the improvements we have seen are the result of campaigns run by our members over 100 years.

In our centenary year, we have been celebrating the work of firefighters who have shaped the modern fire and rescue service and improved the safety of our communities. Reflecting on the experiences of our proud past can guide us in strengthening our union for the future.”