Issue 119: 2017 09 07: Week In Brief: UK

07 September 2017

Week In Brief: UK

Union Jack flapping in wind from the right


NEGOTIATIONS: The nation returns from its holidays to find that not much has moved in the negotiation between Mr Davis and Mr Barnier.  The EU still insists that further progress on three issues – the “Divorce Bill”, the rights of EU citizens who already live in the UK, and the Northern Ireland border – is a precondition to discussions over a future relationship.  That approach, of course, suits Mr Barnier nicely since the amount of the “Divorce Bill” is of crucial importance to the high spending EU and agreeing it would remove the UK’s leverage, leaving it to the EU to dictate terms elsewhere.  Despite this obvious trap, some UK commentators (including, we are sorry to say, The Times in Monday’s leading article) urge the Government to come up with a figure to “unglue” the negotiation.  In fact, the correct strategy must be for the UK to increase pressure on the EU by blanking them on these issues and then making an overall offer which gives both parties most of what they really want.  Any experienced negotiator would tell them that.

THE GREAT REPEAL BILL: Children need toys to keep them out of mischief and, for the House of Commons, that toy is the Great Repeal Bill.  The main issue, absorbing the surplus energy of Sir Kier Starmer and others, is the dramatically named Henry VIII clause, a wide power for the government to deal with the deficiencies in UK law which emerge as part of Brexit by way of regulations.  Is the power too wide?  Will it enable the executive to grab power without accountability?

Schedule 7 of the Bill makes the level of Parliamentary scrutiny dependent on the subject matter.  More important regulations, including those which create a criminal offence or confer legislative powers on a UK authority, require Parliamentary approval.  Regulations dealing with lesser matters have to be laid before Parliament and come into force unless there is a resolution to annul them.  Either way the scrutiny is less than that accorded to primary legislation so there is lots to be argued over. Hopefully this slightly pointless debate will distract the House from areas where it could do real damage, such as the approach to be taken in the negotiations.

LEAKED IMMIGRATION PAPER: A paper from the Home Office leaked to the Guardian contains draft proposals for changes to UK immigration policy in the light Brexit.  It suggests a temporary “implementation period” of up to 2 years following Brexit and a final phase when permanent rules are in place.  It has to be kept in mind that these proposals have not yet been agreed by the Cabinet, where there are a number of different views.  Still, a number of points are worth noting.  The first, and by far the most important, is that the proposals have no effect on individuals resident in the UK before a specified date.  They will (provided that they register for settled status) be entitled to continue to live here and to benefit from UK social security, health care and pensions.  Reciprocal rights are being sought for UK citizens resident in the EU.  The document states that the specified date will be sometime in the two-year period following 29 March 2017, when the UK gave notice that it would leave the EU.

Moving to the other end of the timetable, the document makes it clear that no decision has been made as to ultimate immigration policy, pending consultation with stakeholders, Parliament and the EU.  More specific proposals are made in relation to the Implementation Period.  That said, it is only a leaked draft and the government’s real position will not be revealed until Mrs May makes her awaited speech on the U.K.’s approach to Brexit as a whole.

CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: Slightly bizarrely some Conservative MPs have become concerned about the fact that the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights will cease to apply at Brexit. So that readers do not become confused, we would point out that this is different from the European Convention of Human Rights, which, being independent of the EU, will continue to apply.  It seems doubtful, therefore, whether the change will really be very significant.


MRS MAY: Rather against the odds, the Prime Ministers seems to be taking back control of her party following comments indicating that she hopes to fight the next election.  Not much should be read into these.  Had she said anything else, leadership campaigning would have begun immediately.  Still, there is talk of a reshuffle and of discussion with other parties about agreed reforms.  Time will tell whether this is the start of a political revival or merely a small bump in a saga of decline.

REES MOGG: One of the more interesting start of term rumours is that Jacob Rees Mogg might be offered a ministerial job.  The quirky backbencher has established quite a following in the party and it seems sensible to expose him to ministerial responsibility.  After all, if there is a leadership contest, one wouldn’t want it to be won by someone with no experience of office.  That couldn’t possibly work, could it?

PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE CAP: It is understood that the Cabinet is considering bringing to an end the 1% cap on public sector pay rises.  Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that such a move is long overdue.

LABOUR AND MS CHAMPION: In a letter to The Times, representatives of Sikh bodies and the Pakistani Christian Association have deplored the dismissal of Rochdale MP, Sarah Champion, from the shadow cabinet following her comment that: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.”  They also make the point that other non-Muslim girls have been similarly victimised.  Those amazed at Ms Champion being sacked for saying something so obviously true and important must wonder whether the Labour leadership had other grudges against her.  Whether that is the case or not, they are stifling an important debate and must take their share of the blame for the consequences.


COMPENSATION: Lord Bramall and the widow of Lord Brittan have each received compensation from the Metropolitan Police in relation to unjustified searches undertaken as part of the ill-starred Operation Midland sex abuse enquiry.  Harvey Proctor whose career was destroyed as a result of unfounded allegations continues to pursue legal claims against the police.

GRENFELL TOWER: Progress has been slow in rehousing families from Grenfell Tower where only 10 families have accepted permanent accommodation and only 2 have actually moved in.  61 households have accepted offers of temporary accommodation.  Mr Healey, the shadow housing minister, has urged the Government to speed up the process.

UK NAZIS: Five people, including four serving soldiers, have been arrested on suspicion of being members of National Action, the proscribed group alleged to have condoned the murder of MP Jo Cox.

MIGRANT ABUSE: One Home Office official and 9 employees of G4S have been suspended following claims of abuse at the Brook House detainee centre near Gatwick airport by Panorama, which also claimed that drugs were readily available there.  Although a report in March by the Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised the impersonality of the accommodation and poor sanitary facilities at Brook House, the centre was regarded as reasonably good overall.

CHARITIES: Under proposals contained in a Charity Commission consultative document, the rules under which large charities have to disclose the number of employees paid more than £60,000 and provide a breakdown of those employees, will be extended to smaller charities.

ROYAL BABY: The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her third child.


If you enjoyed this article please share it using the buttons above.

Please click here if you would like a weekly email on publication of the ShawSheet


Follow the Shaw Sheet on

It's FREE!

Already get the weekly email?  Please tell your friends what you like best. Just click the X at the top right and use the social media buttons found on every page.

New to our News?

Click to help keep Shaw Sheet free by signing up.Large 600x271 stamp prompting the reader to join the subscription list