An American view of Theresa May

“… Across the Atlantic, May’s administration may not be nearly as frightening [as that of Donald Trump], but there is a strikingly similar failure of government.

To refresh my memory of the past dispiriting year in British politics, I went through the weekly calendars of Parliamentary business since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. Among all the Parliamentary statements, motions, and debates, there is really only one major piece of legislation, the Investigatory Powers Act, commonly known as The Snoopers’ Charter, which codified the toughest surveillance regime in the West. Otherwise, the sound and fury in the chamber of House of Commons amounted to nothing.

May presides over a Parliament that is, to all intents and purposes, legislatively comatose—the more so since she lost her overall majority in the spring General Election. I cannot remember a more lackluster performance.”…

Citizens could lose right to sue Government post-Brexit; government says tradition will protect us

“The Brexit Bill includes a provision that could strip UK citizens of the right to sue the government, campaigners have pointed out.

Currently, the UK is subject to rulings of the European Court of Justice, including the so-called Francovich rule, which has been part of EU law since 1991. It allows EU citizens the right to sue their respective governments for failing to implement EU law such as environmental law, workers rights and business regulation.

However The European Union Withdrawal Bill states: “There is no right in domestic law on or after exit day to damages in accordance with the rule in Francovich”.

This has sparked concern that this weakens the rights of citizens to seek redress if the government were to fail to uphold certain laws.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake, said: “This is a shameless attempt to take away people’s rights through the backdoor.
“Citizens must be able to hold the government to account when it breaks the rules.”

Martha Spurrier, director of the civil liberties group, Liberty, told The Times: “This chilling clause, buried deep in the Bill’s small print, would quietly take away one of the British people’s most vital tools for defending their rights,

“Putting the government above the law renders our legal protections meaningless. It exposes a clear agenda to water down our rights after Brexit.”

However, the government said the UK has a “longstanding tradition” of ensuring public rights and liberties are protected.

A government spokesman said: “The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU and that is exactly what we are doing. The right to Francovich damages is linked to EU membership – the government therefore considers that this will no longer be relevant after we leave.

“After exit, under UK law it will still be possible for individuals to receive damages or compensation for any losses caused by breach of the law.”

Does our LEP have a plan B to replace European funding? And will it be a “functional economic area”?

“The Conservative manifesto earlier this year promised the government would use structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create a UK “shared prosperity fund”.

However, deep concerns have been voiced about the replacement of EU structural funding. This week, Humber Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Lord Haskins aired doubts about the scale of the proposed fund.

He told the Hull Daily Mail that “so far, there is no indication it will match the sort of money we are currently getting from Europe”.

He added: “Long-term, I think we will have to start looking at other sources of funding for vital infrastructure work.”

The LGA also wants a new approach to distributing Westminster money that replaces EU regional aid, calling for a “single pot” for all domestic growth funding.

The association outlined three options for the future of funding currently sourced from the European Union. Its preferred method would see European Union structural funding, all other European funding streams and 70 UK funding streams supporting growth and regeneration pooled together.

The document said: “Under the single pot principle, local areas would be afforded maximum flexibility to target need and tailor provision, to stimulate growth in local areas and contribute to the national economy .”

The pot would be most effectively distributed to regional “functional economic areas” (FEAs) in England, and “appropriately identified” bodies in the devolved nations, the report said.

“In England, the FEAs could arguably follow the funding distribution geography of the current European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programme,” the report added. It argued this would offer “much greater control over funding decisions , which would be devolved to all local areas.” …”

Claire Wright has grave reservations on Tory Party and Swire’s commitment to environment

“I have submitted a question for the next Devon County Council full meeting prompted by the government’s lack of action and any assurance on moving current EU environmental protections into UK law.

The subject has concerned environmental charities enough for them to establish a coalition of 30 and a pledge for MPs to sign up to to prove their commitment to retaining such protections through the so called Great Repeal Bill, which is when EU law becomes domestic law.

Over 200 MPs have signed this pledge. When I asked Hugo Swire to sign the pledge he refused and wrote this disappointing blog post in response:

The Great Repeal Bill (coming very soon) gives an option for the government to strip out or amend any laws they don’t like look of.

Very concerned at some of the messages seeping out from senior Conservative ministers on this subject I lodged a motion at the April Devon County Council, as East Devon has some of the most spectacular and precious landscapes and wildlife currently protected under EU legislation and those protections absolutely must be retained.

My motion, which was supported by every DCC councillor bar one, can be found here –

But when I checked up on the response from ministers to my motion I was deeply disappointed.

It contains absolutely no commitment whatsoever on retaining vital environmental protections nor does it even hint at it.

It rather takes the wind out of Hugo Swire’s claims on his blog post!

Ministers need to be urgently pursued on this and Hugo Swire is the route to do it.

I think we need to maintain a healthy scepticism here and if you are reading this blog PLEASE email Hugo Swire and ask him to work HARD and urgently on this issue.

He needs urgent meetings with his ministerial colleagues and he needs to make it clear PUBLICLY where he stands on any such vote. Residents should reasonably require him to speak against and vote against ANY attempt to water down or scrap this legislation.

Mr Swire needs to stop labelling any concerned voices as scaremongerers and actually take some action.

Here is my question scheduled for the full council meeting on Thursday 25 July – and the response from government to my motion that was backed by full council in April:

“Is the leader content with the reply from Kevin Woodhouse of DEFRA, dated 5 June, to my notice of motion approved almost unanimously by this council on 27 April, which called on government ministers to retain the same environmental protections as we leave the EU, as currently exist under EU legislation.

“The reply from Mr Woodhouse states: “The environment is a natural asset that provides us with numerous benefits such as clear water, clean air, food and timber, flood protection and recreation.

““Regarding future policy, until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the EU and all right and obligations of EU membership remain in force.””

Here is more information about the so-called Great Repeal Bill –

Email Hugo Swire at

If you care about this, fight for it. Please. Before it is lost forever.

Nuclear power: “You could be doing your writing by candlelight on a typewriter’ by 2025, expert warns”

Owl says: Perhaps our LEP will underwrite the Hinkley C nuclear risks post-Brexit!

“Brexit will create “an alarming mess” for nuclear power stations in the UK, experts have warned, saying it could even cause major power cuts.

Scientists say leaving the Euratom agency that oversees nuclear safety in Europe will cause widespread confusion and have a potentially devastating impact on the industry in Britain.

Possible consequences include a reduction in foreign investment in UK nuclear power facilities, the loss of thousands of jobs and Britain losing its place as a world leader in new nuclear technologies.

UK-US trade deal won’t undo damage of Brexit, cabinet minister says
Professor Roger Cashmore, chair of the UK Atomic Energy Agency, told Buzzfeed News the current situation was “alarming” and “a mess”.

Although the treaties relating to Euratom are separate to those keeping Britain in the EU, the agency requires members to be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which Theresa May has insisted the UK must withdraw from as part of Brexit.

It is unclear how the UK will replace the procedures and regulations currently managed by Euratom. These cover the transportation of nuclear materials around Europe. Britain is a major producer of enriched uranium, which is used in nuclear fuel, and exports much of the material to other EU countries. The UK Government also owns a third of Urenco, the European uranium-enrichment company.

Unless new treaties relating to the transportation of nuclear materials between Britain and the EU are agreed quickly, the UK could run out of nuclear fuel within two years, meaning nuclear power stations would be unable to produce energy.”

“Warning issued on rural services and housing”

“A 12-strong coalition of organisations concerned with rural areas has warned these face becoming “enclaves of the affluent” unless the government acts on the lack of affordable housing and high costs of local service delivery.

The Rural Coalition, which includes the National Housing Federation, the National Association of Local Councils, and the Town and Country Planning Association, said policy makers should not regard rural England issues as only those of farming and the environment.

It called for a planning system and funding regime that would deliver “a meaningful increase in the number of affordable homes outside of towns and cities, fair distribution of funding between urban and rural areas for all services including healthcare and transport, and an industrial strategy that realises the potential of rural areas”.

Service delivery in rural areas incurs extra costs compared with those of towns because of population sparsity and the coalition said these must be properly reflected in funding formulae, such as those for local government, education and the NHS.

Rural areas would also be vitally affected by Brexit negotiations on issues raging from trade regulations to migrant labour to the future of EU funding programmes, the coalition said, urging ministers to ‘rural proof’ the results of Brexit talks.

Coalition chair Margaret Clark said: “For too long, rural people and businesses have been left behind and sidelined in the national political debate.

“From now on, all policies and their implementation must be properly assessed to ensure they meet the needs of the millions of people who call the countryside home.”

DUP funding secrecy to be stopped – but not for massive Brexit loan

Owl says: Two parties working together, both using dirty money to buy votes and manipulate power – are East Devon Tory voters happy with this?

“When the law over political donations was overhauled (or rather, introduced – as it had previously been pretty much a secret free-for-all), an exception was made for Northern Ireland. The requirements for transparency of donations in the rest of the UK* was not applied to Northern Ireland as, still fresh from its years of bloody violence, it was felt by many that forcing political donors to be named was not yet appropriate.

That secrecy has, however, come under recent sustained criticism as it has opened up a loophole for secret donations to impact not only elections in Northern Ireland but also UK-wide contests. In particular, a secret £435,000 donation to the DUP went on campaigning in favour of Brexit across the whole UK.

Now, however, the government has announced that donations in Northern Ireland will be subject to the same transparency rules as in the rest of the UK.

One catch – up until now, the source of large secret donations has still had to be recorded even if not published. The government’s plan is for those records to remain secret despite the Electoral Commission’s calls for transparency over donations made in recent years too. So the full story of that £435,000 for the Brexit referendum may never be known.

* This transparency is not perfect, as continuing disputes over unincorporated associations in particular demonstrates, but it is pretty widespread.”