Politics | The Guardian

Latest Politics news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

17/08/2018 11:45 AM
Government given two weeks to respond to Brexit legal challenge

Group representing Britons living in EU countries argues referendum was not fair vote

Government lawyers have been given a two-week deadline to respond to the latest legal challenge over the legitimacy of the Brexit vote.

A judicial review has been launched by the UK in EU Challenge group, which represents Britons living in France, Italy and Spain.

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17/08/2018 11:25 AM
Denmark says time is running out to avoid no-deal Brexit

Danish finance minister says he agrees with assessment that chance of no deal is 50-50

Time is running out to strike a Brexit deal, according to the Danish finance minister, who has echoed warnings that there is a 50-50 chance of Britain crashing out of the European Union without an agreement in place.

Kristian Jensen said the window of opportunity for striking a deal that was positive for both Britain and the EU was closing.

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17/08/2018 07:00 AM
Sadiq Khan: London planners must prepare for no-deal Brexit

Mayor instructs resilience forum to assess impact of food and medicine shortages

Sadiq Khan is to instruct the body tasked with planning for terrorism attacks and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire to start making preparations for a no-deal Brexit, to assess whether London could face potential shortages of medicines and food.

The London mayor said the government was dragging its feet and leaving businesses and EU citizens in limbo by refusing to guarantee their rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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16/08/2018 07:36 PM
Steve Bell on the Genoa bridge collapse – cartoon
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16/08/2018 07:08 PM
Most-polluting wood burner fuels due to get the chop

Environment secretary Michael Gove to banish house coal to curb harmful emissions

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, is due to confirm plans to ban the sale of the most-polluting fuels for domestic wood burners in an attempt to cut harmful emissions.

The sale of traditional house coal will be phased out under proposals set out in the government’s draft clean air strategy in May, which are expected to be confirmed by Gove’s department on Friday.

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16/08/2018 06:45 PM
The Guardian view on higher education: more egalitarianism please | Editorial
The UK government’s review into post-18 education must recognise that it is clearly a good that would benefit society if more widely available

Has the engine of education concentrated ability of a certain kind under the latest changes? It would certainly seem so. Students in England receiving their A-level results on Thursday were the latest to do so under a revamp wrought by Michael Gove when he was education secretary. They are part of a move away from grades awarded on the basis of coursework to marks based on a final exam in such subjects as geography and drama. The result seems to be the persistence of trends in educational achievement – with girls continuing to outperform boys in most subjects and sciences attracting more entries. This will encourage the backers of this approach to laud it.

Adopting this outlook means considering the downsides. We must beware of sieving people according to education’s narrow band of values. After all, 1.5 million children took A-levels and 3.8 million people took vocational qualifications. To the government’s credit, it has belatedly realised that there needs to be a serious look at post-school technical and academic options. When Theresa May launched her wide-ranging review in February of post-18 education, it was expected to take a year. However, with the chaos in government engendered by Brexit, no one is sure where Mrs May’s review is going.

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16/08/2018 05:57 PM
It’s time for Jeremy Corbyn to take on his critics with a major speech. Here’s what he should say | Gary Younge

Labour’s leader should own his mistakes – but he has been on the right side of history more often than many of his critics

On 18 March 2008, during a media feeding frenzy about statements made by his radical Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright, presidential hopeful Barack Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia. His aim was to lay out his candidacy and experiences within the context of America’s racial history. Jeremy Corbyn needs to make a similar intervention over accusations of antisemitism. This is the speech he should, and could, give.

For as long as I can remember, anti-racism and internationalism have been a central part of my life. My parents met at a rally supporting Spanish Republicans who were fighting General Franco’s fascists – a crucial episode in the spread of fascism across Europe that saw Hitler’s rise and all the carnage that came with it. My politics were shaped by a leftwing tradition that had a clear notion that injustice could not be tolerated – and that principle was as crucial to defend abroad as it was at home.

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16/08/2018 05:17 PM
Labour antisemitism row: Unite boss accuses Jewish leaders of 'truculent hostility'

Len McCluskey hits out as he joins fellow union bosses in urging party to adopt full IHRA definition

Len McCluskey has accused Jewish leaders of showing “truculent hostility” towards Labour, as he called for the party to draw a line under the antisemitism row by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines in full.

The Unite general secretary’s backing for the full IHRA definition, with all its examples, in Labour’s new code of conduct, will tip the balance on the party’s national executive committee, which is due to discuss the issue at its next meeting on 4 September.

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16/08/2018 03:58 PM
The refugee list's destruction in Liverpool has a chilling significance

The list of dead migrants demands nothing from passersby apart from compassion. Its defacement is proof that art has become a political battleground

This summer, the Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu installed on the streets of Liverpool the latest version of a project that has obsessed her for years. It is not a work of art, but a work of activism: a list of all the people who are known to have died attempting to travel to Europe to make a new life.

She stumbled on this grim catalogue – which marks, where known, the names of the men, women and children as well as the places and manner of their deaths – in 2002, on the website of the charity UNITED for Intercultural Action. Back then, the names numbered 6,000. Now, there are more than 30,000. Cennetoğlu became convinced of the necessity for other people to see these names – to encounter the fragmentary stories of individuals as well as confront the sheer number of the dead.

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16/08/2018 02:26 PM
UK government drops fracking question from public attitude tracker

First fracking operation in seven years set to begin despite low public support

The government has stopped asking the British public whether they are for or against fracking for shale gas just weeks before the first fracking operation in seven years is due to start.

The number of people against extracting shale gas has outweighed those in favour since 2015, and the latest polling by officials found 32% opposed with just 18% in support.

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16/08/2018 01:21 PM
These rail fare rises are a step too far. Why don’t commuters rise up? | Polly Toynbee

The unmitigated failure of privatised railways is plain for all to see and passengers are the victims

Railways signal the state of a nation. Fast, clean, cheap, punctual trains make a country look well run: Mussolini and Hitler knew the potency of “making the trains run on time”. Any prime minister who puts Chris Grayling in charge, an ideological obsessive who destroys all he touches, is tone deaf to the national pulse.

This week’s train fare rise announcement was political folly on a grand scale, after June’s train timetable fiasco left tens of thousands of trains cancelled. Fares have risen at twice the pace of wages, up 42%, pay up just 18% since 2008, with driver shortages, short trains and customers short-changed by the some of the most expensive fares in the world. A Peterborough to Kings Cross season ticket costs £6,540 a year while in Germany a BahnCard 100 buys a year’s travel anywhere for £3,840. Meanwhile, fuel tax has been frozen for seven years.

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16/08/2018 12:54 PM
A-level results raise policy questions – but first let's celebrate achievement | Jon Andrews

Despite the upheaval of the redesigned qualifications, many trends persist

We all know coverage of exam results day is fairly formulaic. Pictures of teenagers jumping up in the air clutching pieces of paper, stories about twins with a string of A*s who are now off to Cambridge, and a parade of people trying to explain all the changes that have happened that year and how it is now all different to before.

Students receiving their A-level results on Thursday will be the first to do so in the latest wave of redesigned qualifications in England. The changes, which began during Michael Gove’s tenure at the Department for Education, mean a move away from modular qualifications and coursework towards linear assessment at the end of two years of study – largely through examinations.

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16/08/2018 12:38 PM
Air pollution: London mayor backs new inquest into girl's asthma death

Khan writes to attorney general over girl who died during spikes in nitrogen dioxide

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to the attorney general asking him to back a new inquest into the death of a nine-year-old girl whose severe asthma attacks coincided with spikes in air pollution.

The mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah has fought a long campaign to highlight the role she believes illegal air pollution played in her daughter’s death in 2013.

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16/08/2018 11:30 AM
Conservatives call for Lord Sheikh to be expelled from party

Peer says criticism he faces for attending same Palestinian conference as Jeremy Corbyn is motivated by Islamophobia

A Conservative peer has said that calls for him to be expelled from the party because he attended the same Palestinian rights conference as Jeremy Corbyn are motivated by Islamophobia and his criticism of Boris Johnson.

Lord Sheikh has faced criticism for attending the 2014 event in Tunisia in the wake of a furore surrounding the Labour leader’s presence there and claims that Corbyn was involved in commemorating Black September terrorists behind the Munich Olympics attack in 1972. These claims have been described as “false and misleading” by the party.

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15/08/2018 10:53 PM
Boris Johnson trip on day of Heathrow vote cost taxpayer £20,000

The ex-foreign secretary failed constituents when he went to Afghanistan, says shadow chancellor

A trip by Boris Johnson to Afghanistan on the day of the government’s key vote on Heathrow expansion cost taxpayers nearly £20,000, official figures have revealed.

Related: ‘It has made us unsafe’: Muslim women on fear and abuse after Boris Johnson’s burqa remarks

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15/08/2018 10:00 PM
Majority of Scottish voters feel ignored by UK ministers on Brexit

Support in Scotland for remain has risen since 2016 referendum, poll suggests

Almost two-thirds of Scottish voters believe the Westminster government is ignoring their concerns during Brexit negotiations, and there is now more support in Scotland for remaining in the EU than at the time of the 2016 referendum, polling suggests.

According to research for the People’s Vote campaign, 66% of Scottish voters (excluding don’t knows) support staying in the EU, compared with 62% who voted for remain in the referendum.

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15/08/2018 07:57 PM
Anti-Nazi League founders call for new national campaign

Group says political movement needed to combat challenge from ‘racist and fascist right’

The Anti-Nazi League’s founders have called for the creation of a national campaign to oppose “all forms of racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism”.

In a letter to the Guardian, the group said that a new cultural and political movement was necessary to combat a “growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right” across British politics.

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15/08/2018 07:31 PM
Steve Bell on Chris Grayling, rail fare hikes and staff pay – cartoon
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15/08/2018 06:32 PM
The soaraway super-rich shame British politics – and our politicians | Anne Perkins

Pay for the top 1% is growing at astounding levels, and an American-style approach to business is making it worse

Jeff Fairburn, who is chief executive of the housebuilding company Persimmon, is now a legend in the fur-lined world of fat cattery; with a £47.1m pay package in 2017, he has outstripped previous title holder Sir Martin Sorrell, who in 2016 had a pay package of £41m, reduced by 71% last year, shortly before his departure from WPP, to a mere £14m. Persimmon is foremost among the outriders in the High Pay Centre’s latest survey of the remuneration of top executives in FTSE 100 companies, but the median increase – excluding outliers – is still 11%.

If Persimmon and the industrial turnaround specialist Melrose, the other extreme case, whose chief executive Simon Peckham got an eye-widening £42.8m – were included in the High Pay Centre’s calculations, then the mean rise in top pay would have been 23%, taking the average to £5.7m. Top-earning bosses are paid 145 times the pay of their average employee. Most ordinary workers are lucky if their pay has kept up with inflation.

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15/08/2018 06:30 PM
Will a second referendum be just another Brexit fantasy? | Martin Kettle

Support is growing for a People’s Vote. It could backfire spectacularly

At every turn, the politics of the Brexit process have been riddled with disastrous illusions: the referendum would settle the issue once and for all; leaving would mean a cash harvest for the NHS; an early general election would give the government a mandate; no deal would be better than a bad deal; as Brexit neared, the country would come together.

It was all wishful thinking, as most illusions are. We are now up to our collective necks in the consequences. Most of the wishfulness was on the side of the leavers and of the two most recent Conservative leaders. Now, though, it is the remainers who have to ask themselves whether they, in their turn, are not falling for another Brexit illusion – this time in the shape of a second referendum, or the so-called People’s Vote.

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15/08/2018 05:49 PM
The Guardian view on social housing: warm words are not enough | Editorial
Theresa May’s claim to care passionately about the shortage of homes is belied by a weak new government policy prospectus

Since 2010, responsibility for housing has changed hands at a rate of roughly one new minister per year. The incumbent secretary of state, James Brokenshire, has been in his job since April. The minister of state for housing, Kit Malthouse, was shuffled into that brief in July. Meanwhile, the prime minister insists that dealing with the housing shortage is a matter of personal urgency for her; a “burning injustice” to be tackled. But the revolving-door pattern to appointments implies otherwise. As with everything that isn’t Brexit, there is insufficient will or administrative bandwidth in government to design and champion truly radical policy.

Tension between a worthy impulse and incapacity to act is expressed in the government’s social housing green paper, published this week. It is long on generous intentions and ungenerous with resources. The stated ambition is a “new deal” for tenants. This will involve beefing up regulation to “empower residents”; “tackling stigma”; making homes safer; and expanding supply.

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15/08/2018 03:16 PM
EU rebuffs idea of escalating Brexit talks to leaders' summit

Officials dismiss hopes that May could break deadlock by negotiating with states directly

European officials have poured cold water on hopes that Theresa May could negotiate Brexit with other EU leaders in September to break the deadlock over Britain’s departure.

Diplomatic sources have rejected suggestions that May could hold direct talks on Brexit with the 27 other EU heads of state and government at a summit in Salzburg next month.

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15/08/2018 12:57 PM
A no-deal Brexit will be a disaster for the UK’s young people | Franz Fischler
In all the drama of the Brexit negotiations, I fear for the next generation. We can’t take vital cultural connections for granted

The catastrophic economic consequences of a hard Brexit for the UK and damage to the rest of the EU understandably dominate the headlines. It must be a concern for everyone, regardless of how they voted in the referendum, that after a two-year wait for a government plan the main customs proposals have already been ruled out and warnings are growing about a damaging no-deal Brexit.

Related: UK could run out of food a year from now with no-deal Brexit, NFU warns

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15/08/2018 12:04 PM
For Corbyn, precision and honesty are the way out of this wreath mess | Jonathan Freedland

Controversies such as the wreath row will keep happening unless the Labour leader defends himself candidly and in full

Jeremy Corbyn did an event in Stoke last night, and a reporter interviewed some of the 400 or so supporters who had turned out to hear him. Among other things, Lewis Goodall of Sky News sought their views on “wreathgate”, the ongoing row about the ceremony Corbyn attended in Tunis in 2014. “Everyone we spoke to agreed,” Goodall wrote afterwards. “Corbyn is being smeared, Labour does not have a problem with antisemitism and that the whole thing is largely concocted by the media and Tories.”

One of the more useful phrases of our time is “tribal epistemology”, the notion that what people know is increasingly linked to the group they identify with. The wreath row has been a case in point. There is no single, agreed set of facts on which the various sides hold different opinions. Instead, among those most heatedly involved, the facts or evidence people see and don’t see depend on their tribal or factional affiliation.

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14/08/2018 08:02 PM
Steve Bell on Jeremy Corbyn's row with Benjamin Netanyahu – cartoon
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13/08/2018 12:56 PM
McDonnell backed launch of anti-Zionist group accused of antisemitism

Shadow chancellor praised network’s founding a decade ago, but stresses he does not endorse all of its views

John McDonnell a decade ago praised the founding of a controversial anti-Zionist network which has been accused of antisemitism, saying it had given a voice to Jews who condemned Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians.

The shadow chancellor was lead signatory of a Commons early day motion written in 2008, also signed by Tory MP Peter Bottomley, that welcomed the launch of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and its founding charter.

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