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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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UK government may face court action after EU citizens denied vote

The government is facing calls to launch an urgent investigation into the treatment of EU citizens in the European elections after many people reported being denied their democratic right to vote.

Voters across the country told of their devastation at finding their names crossed off the register due to clerical errors by local councils. Experts said the situation was a “scandal we knew was coming” and that the government may have a case to answer in court.


Anneli Howard, a barrister who specialises in EU law, said the government was at risk of being sued. She argued there were multiple breaches of EU treaties, including article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states that EU nationals have “the right to vote … under the same conditions as nationals of that state [of residence]”.


While Howard said she doubted any judge would declare the election result unsafe as a result of council clerical errors, the principle of the issue could be established because individuals had the right to sue for compensation.


One estimate from the group New Europeans, based on information from electoral registration officers, is that between one and two million EU citizens may have been disenfranchised (which, if true, would be between a third and two-thirds of UK-resident EU citizens): https://scramnews.com/millions-eu-citizens-unable-vote-new-europeans-election-chaos/

The referendum was advisory, so in that sense it WAS just a formal opinion poll.

The government, for its own reasons (internal splits, fear of UKIP taking votes), decided to treat it as binding. (Side note: had it been a legally binding referendum, it would have been declared illegal because of irregularities in how the campaign was conducted.)

No planning was carried out before the referendum to figure out what the impact of Brexit would be, how to cope with it and how to enact it. Civil servants in the various departments were actually forbidden by Cameron from committing any thoughts or plans to paper.

The Leave campaign was deliberately vague and contradictory about what form Brexit would take. Some of its prominent supporters insisted that it wouldn't mean leaving the single market, customs union etc., just a less formal trade-only relationship with the EU. Some treated it as a big bluff, expecting the EU to fold and give them whatever they wanted because the UK was indispensable to the EU - they insisted the UK could have its cake and eat it, basically being able to trade with the EU without having to comply with its rules.

May, on taking over from Cameron, interpreted the result as primarily meaning that freedom of movement (in the EU sense) would end, having been obsessed with immigration and her consistent failure to bring numbers of immigrants down during her term as Home Secretary. That red line was mainly what led to all the problems in the subsequent negotiations. The EU will not budge on the "four freedoms" principle (of free movement of goods, services, capital and people) that governs its closer trade relationships with countries that want access to the single market. Other than that, May continued to be vague about the shape of Brexit, coming out with platitudes such as "Brexit means Brexit" and that she wanted a "red, white and blue Brexit".

To make matters worse, Article 50 was triggered prematurely, before the UK had carried out any planning, even to the extent of what its aims in negotiations with the EU would be. Now, at this more than late stage, it's no clearer, because the splits in the country, parliament and the two main parties are so severe that no feasible deal can carry a majority, and any time efforts are made to nail down a path forward, it leads to stalemate. Last year, May finally called her Cabinet to Chequers (the prime minister's country retreat) to try to thrash out an agreement on what shape Brexit should take. Within barely a day, this triggered resignations from a number of her prominent ministers who had second thoughts. The resignations have continued since then as the mess has unfolded further.

The main sticking point - and a totally predictable one from the outset - was the issue of arrangements for the Northern Ireland-Ireland border (the interface between UK and EU jurisdiction, and an obvious potential flashpoint). That still hasn't been resolved, no deal is possible until it is, and even a no-deal Brexit wouldn't resolve it.

Basically, the prospectus adopted by the hard-line Leavers is undeliverable. Now they're reduced to spouting about the virtues of a no-deal Brexit and the wonders of trading on WTO rules, which would be severely disadvantageous to the UK economy, and the problems of which none of them seem to grasp, or if they do, they're lying about them.

Brexit Party Donations - An Open Invitation to Launder Money

“It couldn’t be less secure” is Turlough Conway’s conclusion as he looks at Nigel Farage’s “Never seen anything like it” claim of mass donations to his new party.

During the EU referendum campaign in 2016 multiple fines for data misuse and overspending were brought against Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign and it was referred to the Met Police and National Crime Agency (NCA) for electoral wrongdoing. Given this background, it would have seemed logical for the Brexit Party to ensure that its funding and data campaigns were as open and transparent as possible.


With notable exceptions, it’s remarkable how little interest the media has taken in the Brexit Party. The concept was seeded in August 2016 when Brexit Party domains were bought by West Dorset UKIP. When Farage launched his party on 12 April this year he claimed that, during the preceding 10 days, it had amassed funding at record rates through its website – £750,000, all in small donations of less than £500, he said.

Farage’s mentioning that the “small sums” were all less than £500 seemed unnecessary and stood out. But it is significant in terms of electoral funding law.


Conclusions for Electoral Law


"This is a red flag for the kind of transactional laundering that the Electoral Commission warned of: multiple, small, anonymous donations from one large donor."

Clearly a Political funding act nearly 20 years old cannot be fit for purpose in the digital age. In 2019, only suspicious transactions have faint or invisible traces and there is no reason why data on all contributions should not be comprehensive and available to the Electoral Commission on request.


There's too much detail in this article to be able to summarize it sensibly within DU's paragraph allowance. Conway shows how the Brexit "Party" website's donations and registration systems are open to abuse.

Leading anti-Brexit QC Jolyon Maugham agrees that there's cause for concern:

Jo Maugham QC

Some compelling points made here by @Turloughc about how, it would seem, @brexitparty_uk has set out to create an architecture that is receptive to impermissible and/or dark donations. https://bylinetimes.com/2019/05/14/brexit-party-donations-an-open-invitation-to-launder-money/

In a Twitter thread, author Carol Hedges took a closer look at how the Brexit "Party" is set up:

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇬🇧Did You Know? 1.🇪🇺
You cannot become a member of The Brexit Party; you can become a registered supporter but not a member (check out their website if you don’t believe me), Yes, it’s a political party but what you may not know is that it’s also a private company ...#brexit

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇪🇺Did You Know? 2🇬🇧
Farage has right to“directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of the company” It’s a company limited by shares (http://bit.ly/brexit-party-articles …), which means that the directors can take any profit out of the company.

carol hedges

🇪🇺Did You Know? 3🇬🇧 By the way, the other director is Richard Tice (https://badboysofbrexit.com/2018/01/16/richard-tice/ …), CEO of a £500m asset management group. Men of the people, eh?

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇬🇧Did You Know? 4🇪🇺Nigel Farage is answerable to nobody, and that includes his party’s supporters.
Is Ex public schoolboy, ex Tory, ex commodities broker, and self-appointed representative of the working classes of this great country of ours mugging his supporters off?

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇬🇧Did You Know? 5🇪🇺
Who made #Farage leader of The Brexit Party? He did. Remember, it hasn’t got any members, just supporters – there’s no-one to question him and he isn’t accountable to anybody. Would you support a party where just one person made all the decisions? #Brexit

carol hedges @carolJhedges

🇪🇺Did You Know? 6🇬🇧
So, next week, just think before you put your X in The Brexit Party box. Nigel Farage Moneymaker European Tour is nothing but a private business and all you’re doing is putting money directly into his pocket.
Your choice. But does he care about you?
Hell no!

In the Twitter thread, some people point out similarities in the structure and funding of Italy's Five Star Movement, founded by Beppe Grillo.

Current electoral law seems ill suited to coping with the privatization of politics in this way. It almost seems as if right-wing forces in Europe have been sharing tips ...

Backbench Tory MPs hopeful of rule change to oust Theresa May


Members of the Conservative backbench group of MPs will meet again on Wednesday to decide whether to change the party’s rules to permit another challenge to her leadership within weeks, after the last vote narrowly went in her favour by nine to seven.


Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, criticised Conservative rebels who have refused to back the prime minister’s deal and accused them of unfairly “laying the blame all on her shoulders”.

“We are playing fast and loose as a party at the moment,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One. “There are colleagues who have suggested the prime minister should go, the prime minister has said that she wants to leave early in her premiership, but she doesn’t want to leave this god almighty mess ... We all need to take personal responsibility for the fact that we are still in the EU and that we are in government. This idea that a new prime minister [will] all be sweetness and light is for the birds.”

He suggested some of the 34 Conservative MPs who refused to vote for a deal might be better off defecting to another party.


Since rearranging the deckchairs hasn't produced results and their most recent engagement was a wipe-out, they're now considering making the captain walk the plank and encouraging mutinous crew members to bail out into a lifeboat with the next battle heaving into view on the horizon.

Here's Charles Walker on Sky News in a greyly apocalyptic mood:


Haggis_UK #FBPE 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 @Haggis_UK

Charles Walker(VChair 1922 Committee) - On the balance of probability we may end up remaining.#PeoplesVote #FinalSay #alloutpolitics

Westminster 'utter contempt' could lead to Scottish independence, says former Labour First Minister

Scottish Parliament 20th anniversary: ‘Utter contempt’ by Westminster could lead to Scottish independence, says former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish

The chaos surrounding Brexit could lead directly to Scottish independence because Scots, Scottish politics and the Scottish Parliament have been treated with “utter contempt” by Westminster.

That is the view of former Scottish Labour leader and First Minister Henry McLeish who said that while his views on staying in the UK were “not as strong as they used to be”, he was a “federalist at heart” and wanted the Scottish Parliament to be more “assertive, more ambitious and more aggressive” in its relationship with Westminster.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with The Courier to mark the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament, the former Central Fife MP and MSP said the establishment of Holyrood in 1999 undoubtedly changed the face of Scottish politics forever because, for the first time since 1707, the nation had a legislator in Scotland.

But having chaired the constitutional steering group which set up the principles, the ideas, and the modus operandi which would be adopted by Holyrood, he said the Scottish Parliament’s creation might yet “change the nature of Westminster politics” given the scale of public disillusionment currently surrounding the Westminster status quo.

His greatest concern is the lack of will at Westminster to “re-shape the UK” or for the Scottish constitutional question to be taken more seriously.


We've all been rightly incensed at the lack of care over the Good Friday Agreement and a post-Brexit Irish border, but less ink has been spilled about the anger and disillusionment in Scotland at being totally sidelined in discussions about the shape of Brexit.

Scotland's not alone in this, of course. The 48% and counting who didn't vote for Brexit have been pilloried and ignored - until a substantial body of MPs across the House finally found their spines and took back some nominal control over the process. Not that it seems at the moment like this will lead to a more constructive outcome, but at least it's a gesture.

But Scotland voted 62% Remain, as did all 32 Scottish council areas. The 2014 Independence Referendum culminated in threats (among many others) that Scotland would lose its EU membership and be out in the cold if it left the UK:

Then there was The Vow, a series of airy last-minute promises about what would happen if Scotland voted to stay in the UK that was published on the Daily Record's front page:

Some of what was promised about greater devolution was delivered, albeit in watered-down form after it went through the Smith Commission, with Tory and Labour representatives opposing many aspects. The morning after the referendum, Cameron marked his triumph by announcing moves to impose a regime of "English Votes for English Laws" in the UK Parliament. Although this wasn't a particularly controversial decision (the SNP had long had a policy of abstaining on legislation that only applied to UK member countries other than Scotland), the timing couldn't have been more insensitive.

But since then, not least because of the preoccupation with Brexit, the devolution process has stalled, or even gone into reverse.

Some five years ago, the UK Goverment, through incompetence or calculation "lost" (or stole) EU top-up funding that was supposed to go to Scottish farmers:

SCOTTISH FARMERS have lost the battle over their unpaid ‘convergence’ cash, with Defra secretary, Michael Gove, finally admitting that they would not see any of the disputed £160m EU top-up that was awarded to Scotland but allocated elsewhere in the UK by David Cameron’s administration.

During an evidence session where Mr Gove was questioned by the Scottish Parliament’s rural economy and connectivity committee, he admitted that ‘mistakes had been made’: "That money has been allocated and is in the budgets of the various governments of the devolved administrations and we must respect the decisions of the coalition government."


Gove - seen by some as a (albeit rather unlikely) Tory leadership contender - it was at the weekend who addressed the Scottish Tory Conference, where speaker after speaker, many not from Scottish constituencies, declared that they knew better than the Scottish Government what the Scottish people wanted - to a crowd of attendees that barely numbered 200 at peak. After the obligatory factually challenged swipes at the Scottish Government for its "obsession" with independence and "not getting on with the day job" (he's not short of a brass neck), during an onstage Q&A session Gove suggested that millions of pounds of funding (money that Scotland itself delivers to the UK's coffers, to then be doled out back to it) for certain functions could be withheld and spent in Scotland by UK Government ministers. Because nobody remembers the farm funding that went "missing", and all can see how effective Westminster has been at administration and responding to local needs over the years.

It was Scottish politicians who teamed up with QC Jolyon Maugham to pursue a long and arduous series of court cases that ended in the finding that the UK could withdraw Article 50 without suffering any penalty. Not only were they doing their own day jobs, they were doing May's government's as well.

Given the unpopularity of Brexit in Scotland, a cynical course of action would have been for Scottish independence-supporting politicians to allow it to grind away to its conclusion then see what polling benefits would accrue. Instead, good-faith attempts to have a constructive input into the process have been repeatedly spurned among the thrashing around of two dying parties in Westminster.

If and when Scotland does regain its independence, it will be as much, if not more, due to the efforts of Unionist politicians as anything the SNP and other independence-supporting politicians have done.
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