Public, media, and government discussions on welfare are dominated by the notion that the population is divided into those who benefit from the welfare state and those who pay into it, despite the evidence painting a rather different picture. John Hills draws on the revised edition of his book Good Times, Bad Times to explain some of the implications of this welfare myth.
The last two years have been ones of momentous political change. In the UK, this included not least the election of a majority Conservative government led by David Cameron in May 2015, the result of the Brexit referendum, and the subsequent appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister.
But some things remain the same. One is how ‘welfare’ is discussed, with the British political debate framed around the idea that our population can be divided into two groups – those who pay in, and those who pay out. This was a theme for former Chancellor George Osborne when in office, but also appears to shape the new Prime Minister’s thinking.
Slowly, the truth about Brexit is emerging. On the one hand, voters were promised that withdrawing from the EU would end immigration by unskilled workers. Polls showed clearly that was the main reason for Leave voters choosing to do so. Now, we learn that Brexit will not end immigration from the EU after all. Leave voters will be justified in feeling they were sold a lie.
Brexit Secretary David Davis says UK will stay open to migrants after leaving EU
The Brexit Secretary said it could take “years and years” for Britain to fill all the jobs that would otherwise have been done by EU immigrants coming to the UK to work.
His comments were apparently aimed at calming fears in Europe of a sudden shift in policy that might affect EU citizens in the UK, but drew angry comments from Leave campaigners who said their referendum victory was based on a promise of falling immigration.
Speaking on a visit to Estonia, Mr Davis said: “In the hospitality sector, hotels and restaurants, in the social-care sector, working in agriculture, it will take time. It will be years and years before we get British citizens to do those jobs.
Source: The Independent
On the other hand, Remain voters too have reason to feel aggrieved. Throughout the campaign, there were repeated assurances from Leave campaigners, in UKIP and the Conservative Party, that leaving the EU did not mean withdrawing from Europe completely. We were constantly told that we could be outside the EU, but still in the free trade area, just like Norway or Switzerland. Remainers knew that would not be possible, without agreeing also to free movement of people – and that has been confirmed. Theresa May has made it clear that the Brexit she is seeking will not be in the customs union, or the free trade area: hard Brexit . Although she rejects the term, that is what in effect we are getting.
On neither count are we getting what we were promised by the Leave campaigners.
Green Party leader in Northern Ireland Steven Agnew said DUP leader Arlene Foster’s claims that she would like to see the petition of concern scrapped has left him hopeful of a change in the law for marriage equality.
A petition of concern – a mechanism introduced as part of the Good Friday Agreement to help protect minority rights in the Northern Ireland Assembly – was used by them in 2015 to stop votes on same-sex marriage being passed.
A majority of MLA’s voted in favour of same-sex marriage, but the motion was blocked by the DUP when it deployed the petition.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage is not legal.
Leaving the EU without a deal and falling back on WTO rules would mean paying customs duties on British exports to the EU. Guardian calculations put the annual bill at $7.6bn just in tariff costs. Here’s why:
We calculated the cost in customs duties for each product if Britain carried on exporting to the EU as in 2015 but without a deal. The total bill is $7.6bn, but the pain is not felt equally by all industries, nor by exporters to all destinations.
Source: | The Guardian
It’s been widely reported that the Labour Party have been engaged in some succession planning, in preparation for Corbyn’s departure.
The Guardian notes
Corbyn’s champions always blame a supposed “Blairite” fifth column for his travails. But it is the left of the party itself that is now plotting against him most systematically. In December, Ken Livingstone told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “If it’s as bad as this in a year’s time, we would all be worried.” In the Mirror last month, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, asked pointedly: “What happens if we get to 2019 and opinion polls are still awful?”
Source: The Guardian
Replace the captain, in other words, but maintain course towards the iceberg.