“This is the “Canada-plus” option the EU at one point said it would never agree to…”

The Irish Times today carries the view of, the always worth reading, FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau on the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. First he makes a quick point on the opposition on both sides of the House of Commons… When British cabinet ministers resigned hours after the publication of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, they could not conceivably have read it, let alone digested its finer points. Many of the MPs who denounced the … Read more

On Charlie Kennedy

There’s lots of talk about Charlie Kennedy’s talents and his ‘flaws’, often a euphemistic way of talking about his alcoholism. Alistair Campbell has blogged movingly and directly about their shared illness. It was never exactly a secret. I remember canvassing a man in the 2004 European election campaign, a rather grand chap in a very wealthy street just north of Kensington Gardens. “Oh, the Liberals”, he sneered, “Couldn’t possibly vote for a party led by an alcoholic.” “I take it … Read more

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

As with the Red Queen so too, it would seem, with Sinn Féin – who published their 2015 Westminster Election Manifesto today. The BBC report notes Deputy leader Martin McGuinness said that he does not believe any of the main parties in Northern Ireland will play a role in the formation of the next government and that any claims to the contrary were “misleading”. Well, Sinn Féin will not play any role.  But other Northern Ireland parties might, depending on … Read more

“there was a ‘culture’ in the Northern Ireland Office not to prosecute Republicans…”

In appearing on the first day, Norman Baxter has set a fairly direct tone for the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the administrative scheme for OTRs (see also), by suggesting that it was the Northern Ireland Office which was indulging in politics over Republican suspects rather than the PSNI: He then claimed pressure had also been exerted from Downing Street in regard to the 2007 arrests of Gerry McGeough and Vincent McAnespie in relation to the attempted murder … Read more

NI Affairs Committee: “We understand the sensitivities of this issue for some members of the Executive…”

As the BBC reports, the UK House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has published their report on the Implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant in Northern Ireland.  Among the recommendations noted by the BBC The committee chair, MP Laurence Robertson, said the report highlighted the need for those who serve the country not being disadvantaged because of that. He said while the special political and legal situation in Northern Ireland made the situation potentially contentious, that should not mean … Read more

Commons Debate on Margaret Thatcher: Glenda Jackson goes and spoils the party by, erm, having a debate….

I don’t know whose idea it was to have a debate on Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons. Glenda Jackson (no, I didn’t know she was still there, no idea John Whittingdale was still there either) could not stand the restraining convention of polite respect. She exaggerates, of course, she’s a politician after all. Care in the community was, for instance, poorly thought out and ill-managed, but did eventually lead to a civilised move a way from life time … Read more

“This vote now draws a line under this issue…”

Or not, as the case may be.  ANYhoo…  A Conservative Party backed proposal to redraw UK parliamentary constituency boundaries has been defeated in the House of Commons.  As the BBC reports MPs voted by 334 to 292 to accept changes made by peers, meaning the planned constituency shake-up will be postponed until 2018 at the earliest. It was the first time Lib Dem ministers have voted against their Conservative coalition colleagues in the Commons. The two parties have been in … Read more

Martin McGuinness applies to become paid officer of the Crown…

Or as the BBC faithfully report Martin McGuinness has confirmed that he has formally resigned as the MP for Mid-Ulster. “I have served formal notice of my resignation from the position of MP for Mid-Ulster with immediate effect. This is in line with my party’s commitment to end double jobbing,” he said. [Just in time, eh? – Ed]  Sadly, he’ll have to wait until he’s actually disqualified from holding his seat.  Just like his party leader was… And as we … Read more

NI Attorney General: “Citizens are entitled to have confidence in the administration of justice”

Conveniently, neither the Northern Ireland First or deputy First Ministers, nor either of their juniors, were available to the NI Assembly on Monday to answer Jim Allister’s pointed question on their continued confidence, or otherwise, in the “statutorily independent” NI Attorney General, John Larkin.  [As open and transparent as possible! – Ed]  There’s been no such reticence from others.  The NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson,  has criticised the cost of the Attorney General’s contempt of court proceedings against the former Secretary of … Read more

“I am delighted to hear that the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the United Kingdom”

Some good news!  [Peter Robinson will be pleased – Ed]  Possibly…  According to the Office of National Statistics’ analysis of experimental subjective well-being data from the Annual Population Survey, April to September 2011, the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the United Kingdom.  In fact the, admittedly subjective, data reveals that the people of Northern Ireland had higher average ratings than the rest of the UK on the ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happy yesterday’ questions (7.6, 7.8 and 7.5 out of … Read more

“makes Murdoch look about as impressive as wrinkly little ant waving a tiny placard”

The arranged arrest of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks today, she resigned on Friday, was met with suspicion by members of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, as the BBC report notes Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders, a member of the select committee, questioned the timing of the latest arrest. “In whose interest was it for this arrest to take place before Tuesday? Because if it does impede what we can ask, that’s not going to … Read more

“we have delivered Mr Adams to the required destination…”

Room for one more post to follow Brian’s coda on the appointment of Gerard Adams to the position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. The BBC reports today, the Shadow Leader of the House, Hilary Benn, has called for a change in the constitutional rules on MP’s resignations.  From the BBC report In the Commons on Thursday morning, Hilary Benn asked his opposite number if the government would consider changing the rules. He said: “Does the Leader … Read more

Back to Gerry 1

Just to add a note to Michael’s wrestle with the Gerry problem. Alas I was unable to answer the BBC’s very reasonable query this morning about G Adams who may have been the MP who never was and yet the MP who still remains. So they took the thorny problem to my friend and fellow townsman, Middle Temple barrister and strict legal constructionist Austen Morgan, no better man.  Gerry Adams may have to remain an MP if he does not … Read more

The resignation that never was…

I had suggested, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the numerous reports of Gerry Adams’ “formal” resignation as the MP for west Belfast meant that he had applied to become a paid officer of the Crown. That was because an MP cannot simply resign.   A parliamentary seat is deemed to be a position of trust which can only be vacated by death, expulsion, or disqualification. But Sinn Féin sources evidently told Mark Devenport otherwise…   Although it’s worth noting that becoming a TD is not grounds for … Read more

Gerry Adams applies to become paid officer of the Crown…

Or, as the iol report notes A party spokesman said the process had now started and confirmed Mr Adams had written to Westminster to formally resign. Here’s Mick’s post in November on the republican’s dilemma. Although it’s worth noting from the House of Commons factsheet [pdf file] that he only has to apply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for that “office of profit under the Crown”… From the factsheet [pdf file] Current procedure A Member wishing to resign applies to the Chancellor … Read more

Apparently, T-shirts have already been printed…

For sheer entertainment value I feel obliged to share this account of the clash between Conservative MP, Mark Pritchard, and Mr Speaker… Mark Pritchard, a Tory MP described “as mild mannered” in the way that serial killers are usually described as mild-mannered until the lampshades made of skin are found in the basement, apparently impeded the movement of Speaker Bercow, who was progressing through the palace like a small medieval king mounted on a skateboard. “The courtesy of the house is … Read more

“MPs set to cut Sinn Fein money”

Mark Devenport is back in the office.  And he’s pointing to a prediction by Newsnight’s Michael Crick following the Speaker of the House of Commons’ response to a point of order yesterday on the issue of the payment of allowances expenses to MPs who do not take their seats.  Here’s what Michael Crick posted The Speaker John Bercow today announced he would allow MPs a debate and vote on the Sinn Fein allowances, a subject of considerable anger at Westminster. This … Read more