French MEP Nathalie Loiseau blames Brexit mess on Boris Johnson in Radio 4 row

Entente cordiale was stretched to its limit when Today presenter John Humphrys crossed swords with a French MEP.

Nathalie Loiseau, an MEP for Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche! party, was asked to respond on Radio 4 to the accusation that Boris Johnson had been the victim of an ambush in Luxembourg on Monday.

Luxembour’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s held a press conference alone, next to an empty lectern for Boris Johnson after the British prime minister withdrew because of angry anti-Brexit protests.

Mr Bettel chose the occasion to accuse Mr Johnson of holding the “future hostage for party political gain” and called for action rather than words over Brexit.

Ambush in Luxembourg

Defending the EU position, Ms Loiseau said on Tuesday: “I think about Brexit there has been a lot of jokes and a lot of sense its been a game.

“So many jokes on the internet and elsewhere but we are serious, we are talking about serious things.

“It’s a British decision but it has consequences throughout the EU and we need clarity.

“We are respectful and we have shown patience but what are we waiting for?”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel's press conference with an absent Boris Johnson
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s press conference with an absent Boris Johnson (Photo: Joshua Sammer/Getty)

‘Consequences throughout the EU’

Mr Humphrys argued the case for Boris Johnson claiming he was working to reach a deal.

But Ms Loiseau pointed out there was just six weeks to go before the Brexit date and “people don’t know what is going to happen – it’s a complete fog”.

In an increasingly heated argument, the MEP made it clear she did not speak on behalf of the French government but the impression in Europe was that Boris Johnson was heading towards a no deal.

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When the veteran Radio 4 presenter claimed Boris Johnson was not prepared to accept a withdrawal agreement which kept the UK under any EU control, Ms Loiseau was quick to say Mr Humphrys also did not have the authority to speak on behalf of the UK government.

The tense discussion ended with Ms Loiseau questioning what Mr Johnson was doing to prevent a no deal Brexit on 31 October.

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Boris Johnson steps up drive for Brexit breakthrough – but time is running out

With just 43 days to Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union, Boris Johnson is accelerating his diplomatic drive to agree the outlines of a Brexit deal with Brussels.

For all his declarations of cautious optimism that agreement is possible, there is no sign that a breakthrough is imminent.

Talks between David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator, and his European Commission counterparts, are about to move to a daily basis in the hunt for an alternative to the Irish backstop.

Fresh negotiations involving Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, and Michel Barnier, the Commission’s Brexit negotiator, are also due within days.

Mr Johnson’s immediate personal focus is now on the United Nations general assembly in New York, where he is due to meet Donald Tusk, the European Council president.

Soft border plans

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Luxembourg [Photo: Getty]

He will also discuss the UK’s plans to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he also spoke on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders on the sidelines of the gathering.

The key aim of the Prime Minister’s working lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, during his ill-fated visit to Luxembourg this week was to persuade Brussels to move on to exploratory talks with politicians.

He appears to have succeeded with Mr Barclay and Mr Barnier due to hold twice-weekly sessions.

But time is desperately short and the issues that need to be settled hugely complex.

Plan B is no deal

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After the UN meetings, there will be a brief pause as Mr Johnson presides over the Conservative conference beginning in Manchester on 29 September.

Shortly afterwards Britain will submit its formal proposals for an alternative to the backstop. They are expected to involve a mixture of all-Ireland trade rules and high-tech monitoring of the Irish border.

If the plans are rejected in Brussels, Mr Johnson insists his plan B is to press ahead with a no-deal Brexit on 31 October regardless of legislation passed by MPs to block that course of action.

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John Major warns Government victory in Supreme Court prorogation case could lead to death of democracy

Democracy could be in danger if the Government is granted the right to suspend Parliament whenever it wants, John Major will tell the Supreme Court.

The former Prime Minister will take on Boris Johnson in unprecedented scenes at the UK’s highest court as part of the ongoing prorogation case.

Sir John claims that giving ministers the right to prorogue Parliament for any reason whatsoever would mean future leaders can take extreme moves such as blocking elections or abolishing the Army without the permission of the Commons.

He has joined the case which is led by entrepreneur Gina Miller and started its Supreme Court hearings on Tuesday. On Thursday Sir John will give evidence through his lawyer, Conservative peer and barrister Edward Garnier.

Army warning

Supreme Court President Lady Hale emphasised that the case is only about whether the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen was lawful
Supreme Court President Lady Hale emphasised that the case is only about whether the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen was lawful (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty)

In a witness statement submitted in advance of the hearings, Sir John’s team hit back at the Government’s argument that proroguing Parliament is perfectly legal regardless of the justification behind it. Ministers claim the Supreme Court has no right to overturn the suspension of the Commons even if Mr Johnson did it to stop MPs debating Brexit.

Sir John’s lawyers said: “If that conclusion were correct, the consequence would be that there is nothing in law to prevent a prime minister from proroguing Parliament in any circumstances or for any reason.”

They suggested that a future leader “philosophically opposed to the idea of a standing army” could simply prorogue Parliament and then abolish the military. They added that a prime minister with no interest in “an orderly and well-functioning state” might use the device to ignore democracy altogether.

Sir John is not expected to attend the Supreme Court personally. But for a former Tory leader to launch such an outspoken legal challenge to the current incumbent is an extraordinary spectacle.

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The ex-Prime Minister has been accused of using the exact same prorogation mechanism as Mr Johnson during his time in office. In 1997, Sir John suspended Parliament ahead of the election for three weeks rather than the usual one, which meant an embarrassing report on the Tory sleaze scandal could not be published.

The former premier is known for his pro-EU views and has called for a second referendum on Brexit. He saw his own period in No 10 dogged by furious rows within the Tory party over integration with Europe.

Sir John famously described his opponents – many of them still in Parliament – as “bastards”. At the same time as he was battling over Europe, Mr Johnson was working as the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent writing controversial reports which accused the EU of meddling in Britain.

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Brexit: Caroline Lucas says Lib Dem plan to revoke Article 50 without a referendum is ‘dangerous and arrogant’

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has ruled out joining forces with Remain parties pledging to immediately revoke Article 50 and scrap Brexit if they get into power, arguing it would be too damaging to do so without calling another referendum first.

Welsh party Plaid Cymru joined with the Liberal Democrats by suggesting that, in any future general election, they would campaign to cancel Brexit altogether – with leader Adam Price saying the vote should be treated as a “substitute referendum”.

But Ms Lucas said she is “absolutely not” in favour of the approach, describing it as a “dangerous” and “arrogant” policy that could further damage trust in democracy.

The Green Party had previously formed a Remain alliance with the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru as the parties attempted to unite the pro-EU vote against their Brexit-supporting rivals.

‘Dangerous and arrogant’

But Ms Lucas said her party was not about to follow the Lib Dems in promising their first act in a majority government would be to scrap Brexit without holding another referendum first.

Remain alliance: Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (L), Leader of the Lib Dems Jo Swinson (2L), Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts (2R) and Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Ian Blackford (Photo: Getty Images)

She said that revocation without another public vote should be considered a “last resort”.

“I am deeply concerned about this policy of revocation as a first resort rather than as a very very last resort,” she told ITV. “I think it is a slap in the face of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave.

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“I think it imperils democracy, it tells people when they thought people don’t listen to them that, actually, they were right because if you go for instant revocation that would basically be what you are doing. You would basically be saying to 17.4 million people you were completely wrong.”

‘Kick in the teeth’ for Brexit voters

She went on: “I think it’s dangerous […] it means people will have less confidence in our democratic system. I think its arrogant, I think its self-indulgent.

“Obviously [the] Lib Dems have done some polling that tells them this is the right policy in terms of some short term votes but, in terms of the long term harm that can be done to our country through doing this, I think it’s incredibly dangerous, I am deeply worried about it.”

She said the country is already “divided”, and expressed concern over telling all the people who voted for Brexit they were not being listened to would be “the biggest kick in the teeth you could possibly deliver”.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said the party will seek to 'rethink the purpose of our economy' by looking at the effect government decisions have on people’s happiness
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said the party will seek to immediately revoke Article 50 if it wins a majority in Government (Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty)

But her comments came as Mr Price urged members of Plaid Cymru to support a change in their party policy from supporting another Brexit referendum to, instead, calling for immediate revocation of Article 50.

Plaid support

He said if a general election is held before another Brexit referendum then “that election, regrettably from our perspective, becomes a proxy referendum”.

“In those circumstances there will obviously be the Brexit Party and the Conservative Party seeking a mandate for a no-deal Brexit,” he said. “It’s vitally important that if we are to defeat that that there is a clear Remain option on the ballot paper.

“We think it makes more sense then for parties that are pro-Remain to make clear that they are for revoking article 50. If we are forced into an election we have to offer people a clear, Remain choice.”

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‘Our freedom is at stake here’: meet Brexit protesters who queue at Supreme Court from 5am

“This is about the underpinnings of our democracy,” said one protester stood outside the Supreme Court waving a placard politely accusing Boris Johnson of misleading the Queen.

Inside the nation’s highest court, located a horsehair wig’s throw from the very Parliament whose place in the constitutional pecking order was under scrutiny, it was an opinion that was echoed repeatedly in the arguments put before the 11 judges presiding over the most momentous constitutional legal proceedings for half a century.

Questions that are normally the niche preserve of learned academics and arcane journals — such as whether Government ministers must be considered “junior” to Parliament — were all of a sudden the stuff of prime-time television and bated breath.

It was a mark of the historic nature of the event — a day on which a British prime minister was being formally accused of giving the monarch unlawful advice to facilitate Brexit — that the first members of the public seeking to be present in court started queuing outside at 5am. Any lingering doubts about the importance of the proceedings were dispelled when David Dimbleby, for so long the compère to defining moments of political history, appeared in the chamber and later explained he had never before seen the nation so divided.

Divided nation

Protester dresses up as The Hulk after Boris Johnson compared her Brexit plans to famous character
Protester dresses up as The Hulk after Boris Johnson compared Brexit plans to famous character (Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Among many of the protesters — perhaps predictably those calling for Brexit to be cancelled — there was no doubt about the villain of the piece.

Justine Reynolds, 54, a Remain supporter who had joined the line at a positively tardy 7am, said: “I wanted to be here in person because I genuinely think our freedom and how our politicians are accountable to us is at stake here.

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“If we have a prime minister who feels he is able to suspend Parliament just like that — and lie about his reasons for doing so, then that isn’t a country I recognise, or feel comfortable in.”

The panel of 11 Supreme Court judges — the maximum number that can sit on a case — heard the opening arguments for and against the legality of Mr Johnson’s decision to stop Parliament sitting with all the seriousness that might be expected when the judiciary finds itself dealing the very stuff of how Britain is governed.

‘This isn’t a country I recognise’

People protest outside the Supreme Court and share their thoughts on Boris Johnson proroguing Parliament
People protest outside the Supreme Court and share their thoughts on Boris Johnson proroguing Parliament (Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble)

One of very few moments of anything approaching levity in the proceedings came when Lord Pannick, the deftly eloquent lawyer representing businesswoman Gina Miller and those seeking to have Mr Johnson declared out of bounds, referred to an obscure tome of essays on constitutional power, adding to laughter: “Some of us may not have read [it] before this case.”

On a day such as this, the bar for comedy was low. Outside, there were those who asked why the services of the nation’s finest legal minds were being called upon anyway.

One man, who declined to give his name while waving a union flag, said: “I don’t really understand why judges are involved to be honest. Isn’t politics supposed to be about politicians?”

Whether he likes it or not, politics (or at least the manner of its conduct) lies in the hands of the judiciary for a few days.

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That it was a source of discomfiture for those involved was made clear by Lady Hale, the Supreme Court’s most senior judge, who went out of her way to underline that she and her colleagues were not dealing with the “wider political issues” — ie Brexit — arising from the case.

That their deliberations are a source of public fascination was also abundantly clear. Normally, the website carrying the live stream of the proceedings of the Supreme Court receives 20,000 hits per month. By lunchtime, it had received 4.4m.

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Government under pressure as leaked Operation Yellowhammer papers reveal 100-mile queues in no-deal Brexit

Ministers are under fresh pressure to come clean over their no-deal Brexit plans after it emerged lorries could be backed up at ports for 100 miles.

Leaked documents claim that in some major ports up to two-thirds of vehicles will simply be turned away because drivers are unlikely to have the proper paperwork to trade across borders.

No 10 insists that a no-deal Brexit would not cause total chaos at the ports because hauliers would be given plenty of advice on how to cope with the new rules.

But critics say the revelation shows Britain is still not ready for no-deal. Last week the Government released a five-page “Operation Yellowhammer” document laying out what it says is the worst-case scenario for no-deal Brexit.

Back of the queue

The dossier said there would be long queues at the port of Dover because of the importance of the Channel crossing, but a “low risk” of disruption at other ports. But a Department for Transport paper leaked to the Financial Times suggests the only reason for that is that the majority of lorries would not be allowed to enter.

The document predicts that at the ports of Holyhead, Liverpool, Portsmouth and Heysham, more than two-thirds of vehicles would not have the proper documentation and would therefore be turned away instantly. At Dover, tailbacks would stretch nearly 100 miles along the motorway because of increased checks on hauliers.

Michael Gove faces fresh questions on the leak (Photo: Getty Images)

Hitting out at the revelations, Labour MP Albert Owen said: “The UK Government really don’t get it and Johnson/Gove and co are acting in a reckless manner.”

Hilary Benn, chair of Parliament’s Brexit select committee, yesterday wrote to Michael Gove asking for more details of the Government’s no-deal planning. He said: “Since the document you sent me was a five-page summary, I assume that there are more detailed papers supporting these assessments.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We have implemented a major campaign to ensure that hauliers can take action to get ready and that they’re able to operate so that trade can continue to move as freely as possible between the UK and Europe after Brexit. If hauliers have the correct documentation, we’re confident that there will be only minimal disruption at the border.”

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Boris Johnson will delay publishing Brexit blueprint until October — leaving two weeks to sort deal with Brussels

Boris Johnson will delay publishing his final Brexit blueprint until next month, leaving him just a fortnight to try to hammer out an agreement with Brussels.

Leading European Union figures have repeatedly urged him to produce its concrete proposals for an alternative to the Irish backstop as the basis of detailed negotiations over Brexit. But the Prime Minister is resisting their demands until what Downing Street regards as an “opportune time” to focus minds in Brussels.

The UK’s proposals will not be submitted until after the Conservative Party conference ends on 2 October, avoiding anger from Brexiteer activists hostile to any evidence of compromise with the EU.

Under this timetable, the delay would leave two weeks for formal negotiations between the two sides ahead of an EU leaders’ summit on 17-18 October where any agreement would have to be sealed.  Brexit is due to take place another fortnight later on 31 October.

Border impasse

Boris Johnson will delay publishing his final Brexit blueprint until next month
Boris Johnson will delay publishing his final Brexit blueprint until next month (Photo: Francisco Seco /Getty)

British officials led by David Frost have been debating their suggestions for avoiding a hard border in Ireland – which is at the heart of the impasse with Brussels – in talks with their EU counterparts.

But the government is insistent that it will not formally show its hand too early because of fears that the UK’s position will immediately be leaked.

Documents are shared at the meetings between officials but are collected at the end of each session. One government source said: “We’ve been going to meetings with papers but not left them behind. 

“There is an opportune time to do it. Now is not that time. The minute we shared anything with them, you’re effectively sending it to 27 countries. Once it’s done, you’re not in control of the documents.”

May miscalculated

Xavier Bettel criticised the UK’s Brexit strategy (Photo: Getty)

It is understood that a new British text of the Withdrawal Agreement – with the controversial ‘backstop’ scheme removed – has been shared with Europan Commission officials.

British sources believe that Theresa May miscalculated by putting her thoughts on paper too early – only to have them immediately circulated to EU capitals.

After a working lunch on Monday in Luxembourg between Mr Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, Brussels reiterated its demand for Britain to produce “legally operational solutions” to the backstop issue.

“President Juncker underlined the Commission’s continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made,” the Commission said.

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Boris Johnson ‘abused power to suspend Parliament’ by seeking to ‘silence’ MPs over Brexit, Supreme Court heard

Boris Johnson abused the power to suspend Parliament more than any prime minister in 50 years by seeking to “silence” MPs and prevent them derailing his Brexit policy, the Supreme Court has heard.

A historic sitting of the United Kingdom’s highest court, which is being asked to decide whether Mr Johnson gave unlawful advice to the Queen when Parliament was prorogued for five weeks, was told that the Prime Minister’s decision amounted to an “unlawful abuse of power”.

Lawyers for businesswoman Gina Miller, who is leading a challenge to have Mr Johnson’s actions declared unlawful on the basis that it was motivated by a desire to frustrate Parliament’s scrutiny of Brexit, said it was “remarkable” that Mr Johnson had provided no witness statement to the court to explain his actions.

A senior lawyer for the Government later refused to comment on whether or not Mr Johnson might simply prorogue Parliment for a second time in the event that he lost the case.

Landmark Supreme Court case

Boris Johnson abused the power to suspend Parliament more than any prime minister in 50 years by seeking to 'silence' MPs and prevent them derailing his Brexit policy, the Supreme Court has heard
Boris Johnson abused the power to suspend Parliament more than any prime minister in 50 years by seeking to ‘silence’ MPs and prevent them derailing his Brexit policy, the Supreme Court has heard (Photo: Justin Tallis – WPA Pool /Getty)

Lord Pannick QC, the lawyer representing Mrs Miller and others supporting her action including former prime minister Sir John Major, said such a failure meant that the 11 judges sitting on the case were entitled to draw “adverse inferences” about Mr Johnson’s motivations.

The panel of judges is hearing appeals over three days arising from two separate challenges brought in England and Scotland over the legality of the prorogation of Parliament, both of which resulted in opposing outcomes.

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The Supreme Court, where cases normally take many weeks or months to be resolved, must decide within a matter of days whether the English High Court was right to throw out Mrs Miller’s original case on the grounds that the prorogation was solely a political matter; or whether Edinburgh’s Court of Session was correct when it allowed a case that there were ‘improper’ reasons behind the suspension of Parliament.

Lord Pannick said the case indeed revolved around the question of whether Mr Johnson’s motivations for the longest prorogation in decades were ‘improper’. He told the court: “The exceptional length of the prorogation in this case is strong evidence that the Prime Minister’s motive was to silence Parliament for that period because he sees Parliament as an obstacle to the furtherance of his political aims.”

Legal challenge

Lord Pannick said the appeal raised 'fundamental questions of constitutional law'
Lord Pannick said the appeal raised ‘fundamental questions of constitutional law’ (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)

The lawyer argued that the High Court “erred in law” in the case of Mrs Miller – who previously brought a successful legal challenge over the triggering of the Article 50 process to start the Brexit countdown.

Lord Pannick said the appeal raised “fundamental questions of constitutional law” and that no court had been asked to consider these issues because no Prime Minister “has abused his power in the manner in which we allege in at least the last 50 years”.

Mr Johnson and Government lawyers maintain that the prorogation was entirely legal because its purpose was to pave the way for a Queen’s Speech on 14 October, the date on which MPs are currently due to return to Westminster. He has insisted that the suspension is not related to his “do or die” pledge that Britain will leave the European Union on 31 October.

Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland, who is leading the Government’s appeal against the Edinburgh ruling, told the Supreme Court that ministers were entitled to use a prorogation to “pursue a particular political objective” and to do so did not amount to an “improper motive”.

Case continues

In one exchange, Lord Keen said that in the event the Supreme Court found against the Government, Mr Johnson would take “all necessary steps” to comply with that ruling. But the lawyer declined to comment when pushed by one judge on whether the Prime Minister might respond to an adverse ruling by simply proroguing Parliament once again.

At the outset of the hearing, Supreme Court President Lady Hale emphasised that the case is only about whether the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen was lawful.

She added: “It is important to emphasise that we are not concerned with the wider political issues which form the context for this legal issue. As will be apparent when we hear the legal arguments, the determination of this legal issue will not determine when and how the UK leaves the European Union.”

A ruling on the cases is expected shortly after evidence is finished on Thursday.

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Lib Dems will introduce a ‘wellbeing budget’ to review the impact of their policies

The Liberal Democrats will assess every policy decision and new piece of legislation on their impact on people’s wellbeing before rolling them out, Jo Swinson has said.

Under plans to introduce a “wellbeing budget”, Ms Swinson said the party will seek to “rethink the purpose of our economy” by looking at the effect government decisions have on people’s happiness. Party aides suggested the move could even include the introduction of a “minister for happiness”.

The announcement came as she declared the Lib Dems were facing the “the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain” as she announced herself as the party’s candidate to be the next prime minister.

In her first speech as party leader, Ms Swinson said the UK deserved a better choice than an “entitled Etonian or a 1970s socialist” to run the country.

lib dem MPs
Liberal Democrat MPs took a stroll on the Bournemouth beach (Photo: Getty)

Article 50 policy

Having announced her decision to cancel Brexit should she come to power earlier in the week, the most eye-catching policy in Ms Swinson’s speech was the plan to introduce a new budget that will look at the impact it has on the nation’s wellbeing.

“When it comes to GCP, Bobby Kennedy was spot on 50 years ago. It measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile,” she told party activists in Bournemouth.

“That’s why a Liberal Democrat government will put the wellbeing of people and our planet at the heart of what we do.”

Public spending priorities

According to party officials, the Lib Dems will introduce a new body, based on the Office of Budget Responsibility, to assess the effect policies are having on the public’s mental health.

Wellbeing metrics are already collected by the Office for National Statistics, which ask people to respond to questions such as how satisfied they are with their lives, whether their work is worthwhile and how anxious they feel on a day to day basis.

The plans are based on the system introduced by the New Zealand government earlier this year.

“Our wellbeing budget will spell out our priorities for public spending on the things that matter most – both right now and for future generations,” Ms Swinson said.

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Ex-Supreme Court judge says government has ‘behaved disgracefully’, but says judges can’t be political

Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption has accused Boris Johnson of taking a “hammer and sickle” to the nation’s political culture over the issue of prorogation, claiming the Government has “behaved disgracefully” – but said the judiciary should not become politicised by the matter.

His comments come as judges in the UK Supreme Court hear appeals from two separate challenges to the legality of the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue Parliament over the next three days.

While the Government has argued the suspension is necessary for it to set out a new legislative agenda in a Queen’s Speech when Parliament returns, those challenging it have argued it is instead a move aimed at forcing through its Brexit agenda.

One case brought by Gina Miller was thrown out by the High Court in England, while a challenge taken to the High Court in Scotland by SNP MP Joanna Cherry resulted in the ruling that the prorogation “was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.

‘Hammer and sickle’

Lord Sumption said it was an orthodox position for the Supreme Court to reject the challenge to prorogation. (Photo: BBC)

Ahead of the hearing, Lord Sumption told BBC’s Newsnight programme on Monday that the law is exactly the same in both Scotland and England, though there may be a difference of opinions in the Scottish courts to the English courts as to what it is.

But he said that ultimately “one of the two courts is wrong”, and warned that the Prime Minister has been “profoundly provocative” so far.

“The orthodox opinion is the one given by the English courts but, one has to accept if you behave outrageously and defy the political culture on which our constitution depends, a lot of judges are going to be tempted to push the limits out.

“The problem is Boris Johnson has taken a hammer and sickle to our political culture, in a way that’s profoundly provocative to people who believe there ought to be solutions consistent with our traditions.”

‘Extraordinarily unusual situation’

The Supreme Court in London
The Supreme Court in London (Photo: Getty)

When host Emily Maitlis asked him whether the judiciary is in danger of being seen as political, Lord Sumption said there is, but added: “The essential issue is whether there are any legal standards by which you can distinguish between good political reasons for proroguing Parliament and bad political reasons for proroguing Parliament.

“If it’s all politics, it’s hard to see how the courts can decide between the two without taking an essentially political view. But we are in [an] extraordinarily unusual situation, and undoubtedly the Government has behaved disgracefully, and that is a situation in which it’s going to be very difficult to predict what happens.”

But Lord Sumption said he does not believe the judiciary should compromise its principles in dealing with the case, despite the Government’s actions.

When Ms Maitlis asked: “Would you accept then that the judiciary does have to become, to a degree, politicised?”, he responded: “No, I wouldn’t.”

He added: “I think if that they are wise they will take the same view as the Divisional Court did in the High Court in England, but that if the government loses, in a sense, it will serve them right. But serve you right is not really a very good juridical principle.”

‘Square circle’

Earlier in the interview Lord Sumption, who resigned as Supreme Court Justice last year, had said Mr Johnson’s bullish position that the UK will the EU on 31 October was akin to saying: “I’m going to have a square circle.”

Before Parliament was suspeded MPs passed a bill that requires Mr Johnson to seek an extension to Brexit if he cannot get a deal approved by MPs by mid-October.

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How the Government could try to avoid law block no-deal Brexit

Lord Sumption said: “[Mr Johnson] didn’t say in terms he was going to break the law, and I imagine that his advisors told him he’d be rather foolish to say that.

“But I don’t see how he can leave without a deal as the Act is presently structured. It’s a very tightly drafted Act, it’s obviously been professionally drafted.

“And the courts interpret legislation so as give effect to its obvious purpose unless there’s something in the language that makes that absolutely impossible.”

He also warned that “there are enforcement procedures, which can ensure that an application is made for an extension”.

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Justice Secretary Robert Buckland refuses to rule out possibility of Parliament being prorogued for a second time

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland refused to rule out a second prorogation to force through the Government’s Brexit agenda when he was challenged about the subject during a radio interview on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court in London is hearing two challenges this week to Boris Johnson’s decision to ask the Queen to suspend Parliament, which critics have said is an attempt to restrict the power of MPs.

But the subject of proroguing Parliament a second time has arisen after the Prime Minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, reportedly suggested the Government could circumvent the new law calling on Mr Johnson to seek another Brexit extention if a deal is not agreed – by suspending Parliament again.

‘A week is a long time in politics’

Robert Buckland refused to comment of a second prorogation. (Photo: BBC)

But when he was asked about the reports on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Buckland did not address this possibility.

He said: “Harold Wilson said a week is a long time in politics, it seems like an hour is a long time in politics at the moment.

“For me to sit here and imagine what might happen at the end of October, I think, is idle.

“What I do know, if we are able to, we will have a Queen’s Speech in mid-October, there will be debate during that time and a vote as well, and perhaps a series of votes.

“Parliament has already shown its power it had a week in September where it made pretty significant legislation. I think the idea that somehow Parliament has been prevented from having its voice doesn’t seem to be borne out by events frankly.”

‘Deeply flawed’

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday that he believed the new legislation passed by MPs – dubbed the Benn Act – which requires Mr Johnson to seek an extension if he has not agreed a deal by mid-October, was “deeply flawed” and the UK would still leave the EU on 31 October.

“I think the precise implications the legislation need to be looked at very carefully. We’re doing that, but the Prime Minister’s been very clear. He wants to lead us out of the EU at the end of October, and he’s focused on getting a deal.”

“I think this is from a wider point of view, so looking at it politically, a very flawed piece of legislation, because it would effectively require the government to concede acquiesce in conditions set by the EU, it could allow for multiple extensions, and it will cost a billion pounds every month, gross, that we extend.”

But former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption told Newsnight on Monday night: “I don’t see how [Mr Johnson] can leave without a deal as the Act is presently structured. It’s a very tightly drafted Act, it’s obviously been professionally drafted.

“And the courts interpret legislation so as to give effect to its obvious purpose. Unless there’s something in the language that makes that absolutely impossible.”

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Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel provokes fury from Eurosceptics after ’empty chairing’ Boris Johnson

Xavier Bettel faced Eurosceptic fury over his decision to “empty chair” Boris Johnson and launch a tirade over the Prime Minister’s handling of the Brexit process.

The podium set up for the Prime Minister on Monday was left empty after Mr Johnson refused to take part in a press conference with the premier of Luxembourg next to booing and chanting anti-Brexit protesters.

Mr Johnson later said that he believed the anti-Brexit protesters had made it impossible to go ahead as it would be difficult to hear over the shouts of “bog off Boris”.

But Mr Bettel attended regardless and used the conference to criticise Mr Johnson’s handling of Brexit and accused the UK of holding the futures of EU citizens hostage for “party political gains”.

‘Stunt’

The move drew criticism from allies of Mr Johnson, with some dismissing Mr Bettel’s attack as a “stunt”.

The Tory MEP Daniel Hannan said: “The Luxembourg PM chose to go ahead with what was, in effect, an anti-Brexit rally rather than a press conference.

Boris Johnson (L) and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (R) met for talks ahead of the meeting (Photo: Getty Images)

“Petty but calculated gestures of this kind from Euro-federalists pushed Britain into wanting to leave in the first place.”

Nigel Evans, a former deputy speaker, denounced him for “pathetic grandstanding” and said it was “another reason why the British people voted the way we did”.

The former Conservative deputy chairman Michael Fabricant said Luxembourg had a smaller population than most English counties. Accusing Mr Bettel of “trying to ambush Boris with a stunt, then have an insane rant”, he said: “Shows you how desperate they are”.

‘Petulant little man’

The Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely tweeted: “Sorry, but what a petulant little man. European leader? Puleeze. Good on Boris Johnson for not wasting his time with this comedy turn. Sooner we leave the better.”

The former Cabinet minister Sir John Redwood said: “It’s a pity the EU doesn’t respond positively to friendly overtures from the new Prime Minister.”

Xavier Bettel criticised the UK’s Brexit strategy (Photo: Getty)

And Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the situation had been an “unfortunate media stunt” and defended the Government’s handling of talks with the European Union.

He said progress was being made to reach a deal following Mr Johnson’s meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, despite the Commission releasing a statement saying the UK had not put forward any genuine solutions to the Brexit impasse.

That meeting, at a restaurant, came before the chaotic scenes outside Luxembourg’s Ministry of State where Mr Johnson decided a noisy anti-Brexit demonstration made it impossible to go ahead with the joint press conference with Mr Bettel.

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What to expect from the Supreme Court hearing – and what will happen if Boris Johnson was found to have broken the law?

Members of the public on either side of the Brexit divide started queuing outside the Supreme Court hours before it began an historic hearing into whether the Prime Minister had broken the law.

Opinion was also split between protesters. One man waving a union flag told i : “I don’t really understand why judges are involved to be honest. Isn’t politics supposed to be about politicians?”

But Remain-supporting Justine Reynolds said: “I wanted to be here in person because I genuinely think our freedom and how our politicians are accountable to us is at stake here.

Inside the building, 11 judges now face the task of deciding whether Boris Johnson acted illegally – and by implication misled the Queen – by proroguing Parliament this month.

How have we got to this point?

Boris Johnson provoked a political storm by announcing he was suspending Parliament for five weeks between 9 September and 14 October. 

Critics protested that the shutdown was aimed at silencing parliamentary debate on Brexit ahead of Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on 31 October.

Mr Johnson denied the claim, insisting the prorogation was simply designed to enable him to set out his legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech next month.

Opponents of the move immediately began court challenges to the move.

What has happened in court so far?

A case brought by the campaigner Gina Miller – who is being backed by the former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major – was rejected by the High Court in London.

It ruled by that suspension of Parliament was not illegal even if it was motivated by the desire for “political advantage”.

By contrast, Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session in Edinburgh, backed the argument of a cross-party group of MPs led by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry that Mr Johnson broke the law.

Ms Miller has appealed against the English ruling, while the government has appealed against the Scottish ruling.

It has been left to 11 justices at the UK’s Supreme Court to weigh the conflicting arguments and reach a judgement that could have profound political and constitutional ramifications.

They turn on the question of whether Mr Johnson broke the law by deciding to suspend Parliament and misled the Queen by asking permission for the move.

How will the Supreme Court hearing operate?

Three days have been set aside for the hearing before the 11 judges (an odd number so they can reach a majority verdict). 

Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court, is presiding over the hearing, which is being live-streamed on the Supreme Court website.

The government is being represented by Sir James Eadie, the First Treasury Counsel, and Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland.

Ms Miller is being represented by the constitutional lawyer Lord Pannick. Sir John is scheduled to give evidence on her behalf on Thursday.

When will they reach their judgement?

Given the complexity of the case, and the wide-ranging implications, the judges are likely to take a couple of days, and the weekend, to deliver their ruling.

It could arrive early next week – coinciding with Mr Johnson’s visit to New York for the meeting of the United Nations general assembly. 

What if Johnson loses?

He could be forced to recall Parliament early. More importantly, such a judgement would be humiliating for the Prime Minister because the judges would have ruled that he acted illegally and misled the Queen in his determination to press ahead with Brexit.

It would also have a long-lasting effect by deciding that courts have a check on the executive. Political leaders would be living with such a judgement long after the current crop of MPs have left the scene.

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Lib Dems vote to stop ‘draconian’ stripping of citizenship in the wake of Shamima Begum case

The Liberal Democrats will severely restrict the “draconian” executive power of depriving Britons of their citizenship should they come to power in a general election.

Party activists voted unanimously to introduce the policy in the wake of the Shamima Begum case, who was recruited by terrorist group Isis and later stripped of her British citizenship.

The Lib Dems called the move an “abuse” of the power and used for political point scoring.

Under the British Nationality Act 1981, the Home Secretary has the power to deprive a British national of their citizenship if it has been gained through fraud or if the Home Office “is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good”.

The use of the power has spiked in recent years and former home secretary Sajid Javid sparked outcry in the case of Ms Begum, who lost her right to return to the UK as a citizen. Her son died shortly after the decision was made.

Political gain

Moving the motion at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth, Christine Jardine, the party’s home affairs spokeswoman, said: “The decision to strip someone of their citizenship is a very serious one and should only be taken when absolutely necessary. Instead, we have seen Conservative home secretaries abuse this power for political gain with tragic results.”

Supporting the policy, party member Sarah Le Blanc from Sheffield claimed Mr Javid’s decision had “condemned Miss Begum’s baby to death”.

jack letts
Jack Letts

The Lib Dem policy change would mean a future home secretary must apply to the courts to deprive a person of the citizenship. It would also prevent the power being used against people who secure UK citizenship at birth.

Ms Begum’s parents are challenging the decision to strip their daughter of her citizenship through the courts as the Home Office has come under significant pressure to review the move.

Cowardly

The Government has also come under attack for its decision to strip Muslim convert Jack Letts, nicknamed Jihadi Jack, of his citizenship, who is suspected of leaving the UK to join up with Isis.

Mr Letts holds dual nationality as a result of his Canadian father, but Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision to strip him of his British citizenship means he is now the responsibility of the Canadian authorities.

The move has angered Ottawa, while Mr Letts’ parents attacked the move as “cowardly”.

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David Cameron says controversial austerity measures ‘should have been introduced harder and faster’

David Cameron said, far from regretting the years of austerity he oversaw as prime minister, he wished he had imposed more cuts and faster when he took office.

In extracts from his memoirs, published in The Times, Mr Cameron said critics’ response to widespread cuts to public spending were “pretty hysterical” and akin to if “we had reinstated the workhouse”.

He said that, given the “hatred” his policy received, he wished he had started earlier and cut deeper to balance the books faster, adding: “We might as well have ripped the plaster off.”

His comments have drawn criticism from opposition MPs who accused him of being oblivious to the harm and suffering caused by the austerity measures, which have since been accused of being in breach of human rights.

‘We didn’t cut enough’

During Mr Cameron’s government, he introduced sweeping cuts to the majority of state spending which hit welfare, justice and local government particularly hard.

In his book For the Record, due to be published on Thursday, Mr Cameron said his first priority after becoming prime minister in 2010 was to tackle the deficit and, describing himself as a “pragmatist rather than an ideologue”, he said he felt his had to do his “duty” as leader.

“In 2010 there was absolutely no doubt what that was: to rescue the economy,” he wrote. “It doesn’t require a degree in economics to appreciate that if you keep spending faster than the economy grows, and faster than tax revenue grows, eventually you will be in trouble.”

He went on: “Did we cut too much? My assessment now is that we probably didn’t cut enough. We could have done more, even more quickly, as smaller countries like Ireland had done successfully, to get Britain back in the black and then get the economy moving.

“Those who were opposed to austerity were going to be opposed – and pretty hysterically – to whatever we did.

Cameron ‘oblivious to suffering’

Former Prime Minister David Cameron praised the NHS for the care he received before his son died, aged, six
Former Prime Minister David Cameron is releasing his memoirs detailing his time in Downing Street (Photo: PA)

“Given all the hype and hostility and, yes, sometimes hatred, we might has well have ripped the plaster off with more cuts early on. We should have taken advantage of the window of public support for cuts when it was open.”

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What we know from David Cameron’s memoirs

Mr Cameron praised the work of his then chancellor George Osborne, saying he “stuck to his guns” despite being under “enormous” pressure.

“The airwaves were thick with hyperbole from interest groups. we were cutting just £1 in every £100 spent, but you’d think we had reinstated the workhouse,” he wrote.

He said he and Mr Osborne were “vindicated” when, three years into government, there were record employment figures which, he said, saw the economy “going gangbusters”.

But John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow Chancellor, said his comments expose the former prime minister’s privilege and lack of understanding of how his economic policies impacted people.

David Cameron, with then Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, introduces Ken Clarke (R) to his economic team at Portcullis House on January 19, 2009 (Photo: Getty Images)

Austerity breached human rights

“Cameron clearly has no idea of the scale of human suffering his austerity cuts inflicted on our communities,” he said in a statement.

“This confirms how cut off this privileged class of Tories are from the everyday lives of our people.”

A report, published by the UN poverty envoy last year, concluded that the UK Government had inflicted “great misery” through “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies.

Philip Alston, a human rights lawyer, said in the damning report that UK “poverty is a political choice” and said austerity was in breach of UN human rights relating to women, children, disabled people and economic and social rights

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How Boris Johnson could try to evade the no-deal Brexit blocking law – and whether it’ll work

Boris Johnson has said he is still determined to leave the EU on 31 October and will not ask for another Brexit delay despite the UK being no closer to agreeing an acceptable deal with the bloc.

The Prime Minister’s refusal to back down has led to concerns that he could be preparing to defy a new law, dubbed the Benn Act, which legally compels him to ask for a three month extension if a deal is not agreed by the middle of October.

The Act, forced on the Government by opposition MPs and named after Labour’s Hilary Benn, dictates that if he does not get a Commons-approved deal by 19 October, or win support for a no deal exit, Mr Johnson must write to the EU to request a delay.

But following a meeting with EU leaders Mr Johnson seems more determined than ever to not entertain the idea of another extension while reportedly refusing to put forward any legitimate suggestions as to how a deal could be reached.

Not backing down: Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for photographers after a meeting with EU leaders in Luxembourg (Getty Images)

The Government said it has no intention to break the law and yet seems to be careering towards a no deal – which would do just that. How are these two compatible?

i spoke to experts Raphael Hogarth, an associate at the Institute for Government, and Steven Peers, a professor of law at the University of Essex, to discuss any possible legal loopholes, and put to them the various theories about how the Act could be beaten.

Theory 1:

PM sends additional letter to EU urging it to reject a Brexit delay

Background: One suggestion, which was first reported in The Telegraph last week, is that Mr Johnson could write to the EU requesting an extension to the Brexit deadline, as he is compelled to do by law, but then tag on another letter or document to the missive.

This extra letter, according to the theory, could state that the Government is requesting the extra delay because it has been forced to do so by MPs, and calls for the EU to reject the request as it does not adhere to the Government’s policy.

And as long as other EU countries are not keen to support another Brexit delay, the idea is that they would not approve the requested extention.

What does the expert say?

Mr Hogarth said this plan would “almost certainly be unlawful” as it could undermine the attempt to secure a Brexit delay, which is a breach of the conditions of the Benn Act.

This theory is not a realistic prospect for the Government unless it would be prepared to break the law – a very unlikely outcome.

He explained: “What the [Benn] law says is that the Government must seek to obtain the extension. If the Government is not genuinely seeking to obtain an extension because it is sending letters that undermines this, then it would be unlawful.”

Theory 2:

MPs approve deal but do not ratify it

Background: Even if a deal is agreed between the UK and the EU, and then approved in the House of Commons by 17 October – the dealine set for the Government in the Benn Act – there is still a chance it could be scuppered.

This is because all the appropriate legislation, which converts the deal into UK law, will still need to be passed before the UK actually leaves the EU.

If this does not happen – and no Brexit delay is agreed with the EU to allow time for this – then the UK could still end up leaving without a deal.

Mr Johnson has said that he will not seek an extension (Photo: Getty Images)

What does the expert say?

Mr Hogarth said the specifics of the Benn Act dictate that if Parliament has not approved a deal or a no deal by 17 October, the Government must obtain an extension from the EU.

“But a question arises: what happens if Parliament does approve a deal? That doesn’t mean that we definitely avoid no deal because under the EU Withdrawal Act of 2018, in order for us to ratify a deal Parliament does not only need to approve it but also pass legislation,” he said.

Read more:

Dominic Raab says law passed by MPs forcing Brexit extension is ‘deeply flawed’

“So one way [this could happen] is that Parliament approves a deal but refuses to agree to the legislation that would ratify it – this would lead to no deal as a result.”

He added that he was “skeptical” as to whether this plan would work, however.

“If the Government was trying to orchestrate that plan it would say: ‘Vote for this deal to get a deal’ to some MPs and, to others, it would tell them to vote for the deal to get a no deal.

“This would sow distrust and is not the way to build a majority.”

Theory 3:

Government launches legal challenge against the Benn Act

Background: One of the more recent theories points to the Government finding a loophole in the new law, which it would then use to challenge its validity.

Ironically, it has been suggested the Government could somehow argue the Benn Act is not compliant with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and use it as a reason to disapply the Act.

It could be argued the Act is in breach Article 11, which protects the right to freedom of political expression.

What does the expert say?

Mr Hogarth said that generally the courts in the UK do not override Parliament because it is sovereign, but it can be done if something is in breach of EU law.

“Under the EU Communities Act, the courts do have to decline to apply any statute that is not compliant with EU law,” he said, adding that it would not necessarily be “a major constitutional event”.

But Mr Peers, an expert in EU law at the University of Essex, said using this reason to get around the law would be “a very poor, if not desperate, legal argument”.

He said Article 50, the legal mechanism that triggered Brexit and which sets out the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, does not specify how or why Britain could seek a delay to this process.

The law specifies the process of Brexit must not breach the British constitution, but this is a domestic judgement, which means the process is not restricted by EU legislation.

The suggestion that the Benn Act is somehow in breach of EU law, Article 50, or the British constitution, is not a logical basis for a legal challenge, Mr Peers said.

“Article 50 says nothing about how the UK goes about requesting an extension of membership. In fact it doesn’t even mention a request; it just mentions the requirement that the UK must agree to any extension,” he said. “But it does not regulate how the UK would go about deciding on its agreement.

“Article 50 does mention that the initial intention to leave must be expressed in accordance with national constitutional requirements; but the EU courts have confirmed that it is up to the legal and political system of the UK to figure out whether those requirements are satisfied,” he added.

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Lib Dems leader Jo Swinson insists she could be PM by Christmas and says ‘tired old parties have failed’

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will insist she could be Prime Minister by Christmas.

In her first party conference speech as leader, Ms Swinson is expected to lash out at the two main parties – calling Boris Johnson a “socialist dictator” and comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Nigel Farage. She will rule out a pact with either man and instead vow to press on to 10 Downing Street even though the Lib Dems currently have just 18 MPs.

Ms Swinson will close the party’s annual gathering in Bournemouth with a speech laying out her strategy for the general election likely to take place by the end of this year.

She is expected to tell activists: “The tired old parties have failed. Looking inward at a time of national crisis. Our country needs us, at this precarious time. We do not have 10 or 15 years. We need to seize the opportunity now.

‘No limit to ambition’

Sam Gyimah defected to the Liberal Democrats ahead of the anticipated snap election
Sam Gyimah defected to the Liberal Democrats ahead of the anticipated snap election (Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

“Let me be clear – there is no limit to my ambition for our party. And today I am standing here as your candidate for Prime Minister.”

The Lib Dem leader will launch personal attacks on both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. She is set to say of Mr Johnson: “There is even now the suggestion that he would break the law and refuse to ask for an extension to Article 50. Silencing critics, purging opponents, ignoring the law: for someone who proclaims to hate socialist dictators, he’s doing a pretty good impression of one.”

And Ms Swinson will slam Mr Corbyn as one of the “forces of nationalism and populism” alongside the Prime Minister and Nigel Farage. She will say: “Even now, when faced with all the clear and obvious dangers that Brexit brings, Jeremy Corbyn still insists that if Labour win a General Election, they will negotiate their own Brexit deal to take us out of the EU. Nigel Farage might be Brexit by name, but it is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature.”

Speaking to Sky News, the party leader insisted she will never do a deal to support Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn in power. She said: “I don’t think we should second guess the electorate, this is a decision that they get to make about how they choose to vote. And there is no reason to assume that there has to be a scenario where either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn has to be prime minister.

“Neither of those men are fit to be prime minister. I will not vote to make either of those men prime minister.”

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Sir Norman Lamb warns Liberal Democrats are ‘playing with fire’ over cancelling Brexit policy

Ms Swinson’s deputy Ed Davey said the party would back a veteran MP like Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman becoming a temporary prime minister in order to hold a second referendum on Brexit. Labour has ruled out this strategy.

The Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth, which closes on Tuesday after four days, has attracted more members than ever before, according to the party, with more than 3,200 activists attending. It is Ms Swinson’s first as party leader after she took over from Vince Cable earlier this year.

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Supreme Court to judge if Boris Johnson misled the Queen over decision to suspend Parliament

The legal battle over claims that Boris Johnson misled the Queen and suspended Parliament to stifle debate over Brexit will come to a head on Tuesday in the United Kingdom’s highest court.

In a hearing expected to last two or three days, 11 Supreme Court justices will weigh up the conflicting arguments over whether Mr Johnson abused his powers to prorogue the Commons for five weeks.

Their decision – expected late this week or early next week – could have a profound constitutional and political impact. If the judges find against the government, Mr Johnson will face demands for the immediate recall of Parliament.

The case comes after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled last week that the lengthy prorogation was an “improper” attempt to stop MPs discussing Brexit.

‘Unlawful’

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has denied misleading the Queen of proroguing Parliament (Photo: Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty)

In a judgement which took Downing Street by surprise, it said the advice given to the Queen which led to the suspension was “unlawful and is thus null and of no effect”.

Its ruling was at odds with the High Court in England which said the shutdown was not illegal even if it was motivated by the desire for “political advantage”.

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Boris Johnson cancels press conference as Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel calls Brexit a ‘nightmare’

Campaigners against prorogation are also pursuing legal action through Northern Ireland’s courts.

Lady Hale, President of the Supreme Court, will preside over the hearing, which will be livestreamed. The hearing is taking place during the courts’ summer break, reflecting the urgency of the case.

The government will be represented by Sir James Eadie, the First Treasury Counsel, and Lord Keen, the Advocate General for Scotland.

The lead claimant in the English case is the legal campaigner Gina Miller, who is being represented by the constitutional lawyer Lord Pannick.

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Sir Norman Lamb warns Liberal Democrats are ‘playing with fire’ over cancelling Brexit policy

Cracks appeared within the Liberal Democrats after a senior MP warned the party is “playing with fire” over its decision to back a policy to cancel Brexit.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister, attacked the party’s decision to vote in favour of standing on a manifesto pledge to revoke Article 50, insisting it would “break the social contract” made with the public.

Activists overwhelmingly endorsed Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson’s new policy to abandon Brexit without holding a second referendum at their annual conference in Bournemouth on Sunday.

Ms Swinson said the policy shift made the party’s stance on Brexit “crystal clear” for voters should a general election be called before the UK leaves the European Union.

‘Opens the door to Nigel Farage’

The party has said it will continue to campaign for a second referendum ahead of a snap poll.

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If the Liberal Democrats want a chance of taking power they’ll need Nigel Farage’s help

But Sir Norman, who has previously voted in favour of a softer, Norway-style Brexit, which would see the UK leave the EU but remain inside the single market and customs union, called for a compromise arrangement.

A failure to do so “opened the door to Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson to prosper”, he said.

sir norman lamb
Sir Norman Lamb attacked the party’s decision to vote in favour of standing on a manifesto pledge to revoke Article 50 (Photo: Getty)

“I don’t feel personally that there are enough people out there trying to find ways to re-unite our country,” Sir Norman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think that the polarisation that we are seeing is incredibly dangerous. I think we are playing with fire in many ways.”

The senior backbencher has said he will not contest his Norfolk North seat at the next election, but his decision to criticise the party’s flagship policy could be damaging to Ms Swinson.

‘Not undemocratic’

“We have got to be very careful what we wish for,” he said. “If we take this to the very limit in a situation where one side or the other is vanquished entirely, I think there is a real danger that we break the social contract in our country and I think we all have a responsibility to find ways to reunite the country in a common endeavour.”

Ms Swinson later denied the decision to stand on a policy to revoke Article 50 was “undemocratic”.

“I fundamentally disagree. Democracy did not end on 23 June 2016, I’ve spoken to plenty of people who have changed their mind since that time,” she told Sky.

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If the Liberal Democrats want a chance of taking power they’ll need Nigel Farage’s help

The Liberal Democrats need Nigel Farage.

They’ll never admit it publicly, and if the Brexit Party leader turned up at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth this week he’d be chased out of town. But behind closed doors, insiders recognise that their hopes of an election breakthrough depend on Mr Farage.

The logic is that even though the Lib Dems are rising in the polls, the first-past-the-post voting system means they are likely to add no more than a few dozen extra MPs at the next election. But if the Brexit Party surges, that could weaken the two main parties and allow the Lib Dems to pick up large numbers of seats.

One senior MP told i: “Under the current electoral system, we could pick up 15 per cent of the vote and still be stuck in double figures. But one thing that really could make us the biggest party is if the Brexit Party stand and fight across the country. They could take voters from the Tories and Labour – and we’ll come through the middle.”

Target list

Jo Swinson is hoping to make an impact at the next election
Jo Swinson is hoping to make an impact at the next election (Photo: Getty)

The party has its eye not just on ultra-Remainer areas of London, where Cabinet minister Zac Goldsmith is likely to lose his Richmond Park seat, but also on vast swathes of southern England where the pro-Leave vote could be divided between the Tories and Brexit Party. St Albans, Cheltenham and Watford are among the top target constituencies.

They are even pouring resources into Esher & Walton, currently held by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab with a massive majority; well-heeled residents reportedly flocked to a local Lib Dem meeting, complaining that Boris Johnson’s belligerent start in No 10 has turned them off from the Conservatives.

The mood at the party conference is certainly upbeat. Christine Jardine, Edinburgh West MP and the party’s home affairs spokesman, told i: “I’ve never seen a conference that’s more energised and excited.” At times, the main hall has been standing-room-only and activists enthuse about the “buzz”.

But when the election does finally come, the Lib Dems may find themselves in a dilemma. They insist they can hoover up voters who regard both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson as too extreme, promising a return to centrist moderation. But on Brexit, the party has adopted arguably the most extreme policy of any party.

The party is buoyed by the defection of Chuka Umunna and others
The party is buoyed by the defection of Chuka Umunna and others (Photo: Getty)

By promising to revoke Article 50 without a referendum in the admittedly unlikely event of a Lib Dem majority in the the Commons, the party goes further than other pro-EU outfits such as the Greens and SNP. It will enthuse some Remain voters by raising the prospect of a speedy end to the Brexit debate – but will drive others away. Even many Remainers believe Brexit can only be legitimately overturned through a referendum, or the public risks losing faith in democracy for good. It’s also a headache in Scotland where the party is helping block a second independence vote.

Lib Dem MPs insist their new “clean break” policy on Brexit will work, providing a simple and clear message to compete with the appeal of a No Deal Brexit. But if it puts off moderate voters, driving them reluctantly back into the arms of the Tories or Labour, the party’s buoyant spirits may not last past polling day.

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Johnson no-show lets Xavier Bettel play to the gallery

LUXEMBOURG CITY — In the end the Incredible Hulk shied away from fewer than 100 protesters.

Rather than face heckling from a small but boisterous crowd of demonstrators, Boris Johnson skipped a planned outdoor press conference with his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel on Monday, leaving his host to deliver a grandstanding lecture on how Brexit had been pursued for Tory party advantage but with no plan for how to deliver it.

On Sunday, the British prime minister had compared Britain (and by extension himself) to the Incredible Hulk, breaking free of the EU (“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets“).

But after being loudly booed and jeered by anti-Brexit protesters on his way into the meeting with Bettel, Johnson’s aides appear to have decided that the spectacle of a joint press conference in the courtyard of the Luxembourg’s prime minister office punctuated by heckles from just a few feet away would not have been a good look.

“We need written proposals and the time is ticking — so stop speaking,” Bettel implored Johnson at one point.

In the event, the alternative was worse.

Standing in front of a British flag, Bettel gestured several times at the empty podium next to him, noting mischievously that he had hoped to thank Johnson for their exchange of views. In brief remarks, he lambasted the U.K. prime minister for not putting forward a concrete alternative to the Withdrawal Agreement in writing. He also lashed out at the Tories for falsely promising that Brexit would be easy to accomplish, voiced unwavering support for Ireland, and demanded Brexit supporters stop blaming the EU for the mess they have made.

“We need written proposals and the time is ticking — so stop speaking,” Bettel implored Johnson at one point. “Act!”

At another point, in perhaps his sharpest rebuke, Bettel accused Johnson and the Tories of seeking partisan advantage.

“You cannot hold a future hostage for party political gain,” Bettel said, adding later: “This Brexit is not my choice, it has been a decision from the [Tory] party. It was a decision from David Cameron to do it. They decide. They decide.”

“I deeply regret it but don’t put the blame on us because now they don’t know how to get out of this,” he said then paused dramatically for a moment, a mischievous grin on his face, before adding “situation they put themselves in. It’s not my choice.”

Luxembourg PM, Xavier Bettel rejected a proposal that the post-Brexit transition period could be extended by one or two years | Joshua Sammer/Getty Images

It was a remarkable performance on many levels, not least because the dressing down of the British leader for mishandling Brexit came not from one of the EU’s great powers, the president of France or the chancellor of Germany, but from the prime minister of tiny Luxembourg. And it showed not only just how deep anger now runs among the EU27 but also how fiercely united they remain in loyalty to Ireland and the so-called backstop provision to protect the Irish border that Johnson on Monday continued to insist must be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement.

The press conference itself was delayed by protestors who shouted “stop Brexit” and held signs saying declaring “Brexit is just not funny” and “Stop this madness.” A sound-system blasted Beethoven’s ninth symphony (the EU anthem) as well as the Rolling Stones’ “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction.”

After Johnson’s no-show, Downing Street officials said they had suggested holding the press conference elsewhere, but that the hosts declined, insisting it take place outside in view of the watching public.

Speaking to Sky News shortly after the meeting, Johnson explained his decision, saying: “Clearly going to be a lot of noise and our points might have been drowned out,” adding that he didn’t think “it would have been fair” on the Luxembourg prime minister if he had taken part in the press conference.

To cheers from the crowd, Bettel did not mince his words about what he regarded as the source of the Brexit “mess.”

The effect was that Bettel was gifted a media platform to air the EU’s grievances, with no comeback from Johnson. And his solo press conference vastly overshadowed the main purpose of Johnson’s visit: a lunch meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is a former Luxembourg prime minister.

Bettel’s evident frustration with what he said was the failure of the U.K. to submit workable proposals to replace the controversial Northern Ireland backstop stood in sharp contrast to Johnson’s own stated optimism that there is “a good chance of a deal” but it was “not necessarily in the bag.”

To cheers from the crowd, Bettel did not mince his words about what he regarded as the source of the Brexit “mess.”

He stressed that the first priority for the EU “is the preservation of the single market” along with a “deal that protects the Good Friday Agreement and avoids hard border on the Irish island at all costs.”

Gesturing at times towards the empty podium next to him, Bettel said that the U.K. had not offered any “concrete proposals” to solve the Northern Ireland border problem. “The only solution that is currently on the table and meets all these criteria is the Withdrawal Agreement,” he said — referring to the deal struck with Theresa May’s government.

Boris Johnson said he didn’t think “it would have been fair” on the Luxembourg PM if he had taken part in the press conference  | Joshua Sammer/Getty Images

“There are no changes, there are no concrete proposals for the moment on the table and I won’t give an agreement to ideas, we need written proposals and the time is ticking. So stop speaking but act if you want that we are able to discuss about different proposals,” he said. Johnson said in his Sky interview that “papers had been shared” with EU negotiators in the last two weeks.

The Luxembourg PM also said he had asked Johnson if he would consider a second referendum to get out of the political impasse in the U.K., but his British counterpart had told him he would not.

Bettel also rejected a proposal that the post-Brexit transition period could be extended by one or two years: “The fact is that our citizens want to have a certainty … if we say [an extension] is for one year or two years and this time will be needed to find new decisions, this is a nightmare.”

He was also asked about Johnson’s determination to pursue Brexit on October 31, apparently in contravention of a law passed last week forcing him to apply for an extension to Article 50. “This wouldn’t happen in Luxembourg” was Bettel’s response.

HYPOTHETICAL SECOND BREXIT REFERENDUM POLL OF POLLS

For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

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The Guardian apologises for saying David Cameron felt ‘privileged pain’ over six-year-old son’s death

The Guardian has apologised for writing that David Cameron had only felt “privileged pain” over the death of his son.

In extracts from his memoirs, the former Prime Minister praised the NHS for the care he received before his son died, aged, six.

Ivan had Ohtahara syndrome, a condition which meant he could not move his limbs or speak. An editorial by the newspaper wrote that Mr Cameron “might have understood the damage his policies have done” had his son been treated at an understaffed hospital, or been caring for an elderly parent.

“Even his experience of the NHS, which looked after his severely disabled son, has been that of the better functioning and better funded part of s if the system,” the paper wrote.

Lacking empathy

It removed the section from its website within hours of publication following an outcry.

Chancellor Sajid Javid wrote on Twitter: “Never has an editorial so lacked in empathy, while so righteously criticising others for lacking it.”

Actress and writer Jenny Eclair wrote: “I am furious with David Cameron but to question his grief privilege as the Guardian is doing is beyond vile – his 6 year old son died.”

A Guardian spokesman said: “The original version of an editorial posted online yesterday fell far short of our standards.

“It was changed significantly within two hours, and we apologise completely.”

Son’s struggle

David Cameron and his wife Samantha walk to their house following the death of their 6-year-old son, on February 25, 2009 (Photo: Getty)

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In his memoirs, which are released on Thursday, Mr Cameron recalls realising something was wrong with his newborn child after just a few days.

“When you watch your tiny baby undergoing multiple blood tests, your heart aches. When they bend him back into the foetal position to remove fluid from the base of his spine with a long, threatening-looking needle, it almost breaks,” he writes.

He adds: “A world in which things had always gone right for me suddenly gave me an immense shock and challenge.”

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for the reality of losing your darling boy in this way. It was as if the world stopped turning.”

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A Banksy painting depicting Parliament as full of chimpanzees is on sale – for £1.5m

A Banksy painting which depicts the House of Commons as full of chimpanzees is expected to sell for between £1.5 – 2 million according to auctioneer Sotheby’s, a fee which would break the artist’s current auction record .

The artwork was completed by Banksy in 2009, and is called ‘Devolved Parliament‘. It goes on display on 28 September before its sale on 3 October – just a few weeks before the Brexit deadline of 31 October. It is 13 feet in width, making it the artist’s largest known canvas.

He created it for the takeover of the Bristol Museum, which attracted more than £300,000 visitors.

Banksy’s current record for a piece sold at auction is ‘Keep It Spotless‘, which sold for £1.87 million in New York in 2008.

Political appeal

Banksy’s ‘Love is in the Bin’ at Sotheby's on 12 October 2018 (Getty Images for Sotheby's)
Banksy’s ‘Love is in the Bin’ at Sotheby’s on 12 October 2018 (Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

Alec Branczik, European head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, said: “Regardless of where you sit in the Brexit debate, there’s no doubt that this work is more pertinent now than it has ever been, capturing unprecedented levels of political chaos and confirming Banksy as the satirical polemicist of our time.”

The painting will be auctioned in the same room in which Banksy shredded one of his works moments after it was sold last year. ‘Girl with Balloon’ sold for a final total of £1,042,000 to an anonymous European woman at Sotheby’s, before a mechanism shredded the piece.

It was since renamed ‘Love is in the Bin’, and Sotheby’s dubbed it “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.” The piece is on loan at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in Germany.

Banksy’s chimpanzee painting will go on sale a year after his shredding stunt. ‘Devolved Parliament’ was displayed in the Bristol Museum earlier in the year after an unnamed collector loaned it to the museum during Brexit negotiations, to mark both Britain’s initial planned exit day and the exhibition’s 10th anniversary.

Banksy wrote on Instagram on 28 March: “I made this 10 years ago. Bristol museum have just put it back on display to mark Brexit day. Laugh now, but one day no one will be in charge”.

The artist recently satirised Brexit with a mural on a Dover building, which depicted a worker chiselling a star out of an EU flag. The mural was painted over with white paint, to which Banksy commented: “Never mind. I guess a big white flag says it just as well.”

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‘Do I have regrets? Yes’: David Cameron says he’s ‘deeply sorry about all that’s happened’ since losing the Brexit referendum

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has said “not a day goes by” when he does not think about all the decisions he took in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, and that is he is “deeply sorry about all that’s happened” since.

In an interview with ITV News’ Tom Bradby, due to air on Monday night, the former Tory leader said he feels “huge regrets” for losing the referendum.

The interview comes ahead of the release of Mr Cameron’s memoir this week, which documents his time in office until it ended the day after the 2016 referendum when he stepped down having failed to keep the UK inside the European Union.

‘I’m deeply sorry’

In a clip of the interview released ahead of it airing in full on Monday night, Mr Cameron addresses the result of the referendum and the three years of political crisis that has ensued.

“I’m deeply sorry about all that’s happened. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about all the decisions I made and all that has followed.

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The Cameron Interview: what time it’s on ITV tonight, and what David Cameron tells Tom Bradby

“But when I go back to that decision, that Britain’s position needed to be sorted and we needed a renegotiation and a referendum; I believed then that was the right approach,” he said.

But despite this Mr Cameron said he still has “huge regrets”.

“I regret that we lost the campaign. I regret I let expectations about the negotiation run far too high,” he said.

“I regret some of the individual decisions we made in the campaign. I think perhaps there’s a case to say the timing could have been different.”

‘Do I have regrets? Yes’

David Cameron speaks with Tom Bradby. (Photo: ITV News)

The former Prime Minister agreed the decision had haunted him, admitting: “You know, this is a huge decision for our country, and I think we’ve taken the wrong path; as I’ve said, it can be made to work…

“If you’re asking me: do I have regrets? Yes. Am I sorry about the state the country’s got into? Yes. Do I feel I have some responsibility for that? Yes.

“It was my referendum; my campaign; my decision to try and renegotiate. And I accept all of those things and people, including those watching this programme, will have to decide how much blame to put on me.”

‘A referendum had become inevitable’

But the former Prime Minister rejected the idea that the referendum had simply been held due to issues in the Conservative Party.

He said: “Of course, there were big issues in the Conservative Party, as there were divisions in the country. I mean, every political party at some stage between 2005 and 2015 supported a referendum at a general election. The Liberal Democrats did, the Labor Party did, the Green Party did, we did…

“I believed it was inevitable that trying to settle it with a re-negotiation and a referendum had become inevitable.”

“My attempt to solve this problem failed and decisions I made perhaps contributed to that failure, but it was at least an honest attempt to try and grapple with this issue.”

Additional reporting by PA

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David Cameron says it was a ‘disastrous decision’ to expel 21 ‘hard-working’ Tory Brexit rebels

David Cameron has warned Boris Johnson to reverse his decision to expel 21 Conservatives for rebelling against his government or else face “disaster” for his party.

The former Prime Minister said the expulsion of the MPs earlier this month for voting in favour of the Brexit delay bill was a “bad decision” by Mr Johnson and if it wasn’t corrected it could have serious consequences for the Conservatives.

Mr Cameron made the intervention in an interview with Tom Bradby for ITV, to be broadcast on Monday evening to mark publication of his memoirs, For The Record. Two of those rebels, Philip Lee and Sam Gyimah, have defected to the Liberal Democrats, while the other MPs, who included former Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond and David Gauke, are sitting as independents.

The decision by Mr Johnson to order the Tory whip to be removed – despite the Prime Minister rebelling against Theresa May’s government on Brexit several times – has been widely criticised by Conservative figures.

‘Disaster for Tories’

David Cameron plans to campaign for the MPs ejected from the Conservative party by Boris Johnson if they stand at the next election.
David Cameron plans to campaign for the MPs ejected from the Conservative party by Boris Johnson if they stand at the next election (Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty)

In his ITV interview, Mr Cameron said: “I obviously disagree with the idea of taking away the whip from 21 hard-working, loyal Conservatives. I think that was a bad decision, if it isn’t reversed, it will be I think a disastrous decision. I hope that Boris will get a deal in Brussels, he will come back, try and bring parliament together to back that deal – I don’t see why those 21 people shouldn’t be restored to the Conservative whip. If they’re not, I really worry about what could happen.”

The ex-PM said Mr Johnson was wrong to suspend parliament – although he added he didn’t think it was illegal. “It looked to me, from the outside, like rather sharp practice of trying to restrict the debate and I thought it was actually from his point of view probably counterproductive. In the end, we have to work through parliament, and you can’t deny the arithmetic of parliament and the majorities there are in parliament.”

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Mr Cameron also spoke movingly about how he felt the UK had to take action against the Assad regime in Syria after seeing footage of dead children killed in a suspected chemical attack.

The former Prime Minister said the TV images of the atrocity in 2013 made him think of his son Ivan, who had died four years earlier, and “felt we’ve got to act”.

“I watched it on the television and the sight of the children laid out in rows made me think of Ivan and everything that had happened to me and I thought it was just so appalling. I felt we’ve got to act.”

The Cameron Interview will be broadcast on ITV tonight at 8pm.

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Is it safe to travel to Tunisia? Latest advice ahead of presidential election

Tunisia is in the process of holding its second free democratic election for a new president.

Here’s what you need to know about how safe it is to travel to the country in this time of political change.

Votes are being counted in Tunisia for a new president, after voters headed to the polls yesterday. Results are expected tomorrow.

There are 26 candidates who have been campaigning in recent weeks, including the current prime minister Youssef Chahed.

A second round of voting will follow, if no one gets an absolute majority of the vote in this round.

The president in Tunisia takes charge of defence, foreign policy and national security.

Voters headed to the polls in Tunisia yesterday (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)
Voters headed to the polls in Tunisia yesterday (Photo: Getty)

The election follows the death of Beji Caid Essebsi, the country’s first freely elected president who was elected in 2014.

He died in July, aged 92, making him one of the world’s oldest presidents to die in office.

Why is the background to this and why is it significant?

It is second free presidential election in the country since Ben Ali was ousted in 2011, following protests which sparked the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

He had been in office since 1987.

At the time, there was much dissatisfaction across the country over issues including high unemployment rates, corruption and a lack of political freedom.

It all came to a head when street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after his cart was confiscated.

The resulting protests led to the country becoming a democracy with free elections – it is considered by many to be one of the most successful transitions to full democracy to come out of the Arab Spring.

However, there have been reports of a low turnout to this vote, with only 45% of registered voters taking part yesterday, compared to 63% in 2014, according to reports by Reuters.

An election official empties a ballot box after polls closed (Photo: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)
An election official empties a ballot box after polls closed (Photo: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

How safe is it there?

There have also been issues with security in Tunisia in recent years.

The country, which was once a popular destination among holidaymakers from the UK has faced terrorist attacks and threats in recent years.

An attack in 2015 in Sousse left 38 people dead, including 30 British people.

The most recent attack was a double suicide bombing in June this year targeting security officials, which killed one person and injured at least eight.

Following June’s attack, the country’s tourism minister Rene Trabelsi tried to reassure visitors that the attack “has nothing to do with tourists”, in an interview with Associated Press.

What advice does the Foreign Office give?

In terms of the election, the Foreign Office explains that another round of voting in the presidential election will take place before 3 November if no one wins the first round with an absolute majority, and legislative elections are also set to take place on 5 October.

The FO’s advice on this is:

“Crowds may gather during this period.

“As ever, you should avoid demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests.”

It adds: “Demonstrations often occur in Tunisia and the majority are peaceful.”

The FO also advises that a state of emergency in Tunisia, which has been in place since November 2015 after an attack on police bus, has been extended again until 31 December.

The Foreign Office’s advice for travelling to Tunisia (Image: Foreign Office)
The Foreign Office’s advice for travelling to Tunisia (Image: Foreign Office)

Following the attack in Sousse in 2015 which targeted tourists, the FO says the UK government has worked with Tunisian authorities, which have now “improved protective security in major cities and tourist resorts”.

But it says terrorists are still “very likely” to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia, “including against UK and Western interests”.

It should be noted that the FO lists many other countries as being places where terrorists attacks are “very likely” to happen, including France, Germany and the USA.

The FO also warns of a threat of kidnapping in Tunisia.

Are there parts of Tunisia that are not safe to visit?

Here is the latest advise on regions that are not safe to visit:

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to:

– the Chaambi Mountains National Park and the designated military operations zones of Mount Salloum, Mount Sammamma and Mount Mghila

– the militarised zone south of the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba

– within 20km of the rest of the Libya border area north of Dhehiba

– the town of Ben Guerdane and immediate surrounding area

It also advises against all but essential travel to:

– all other areas within 75km of the Libyan border, including Remada, El Borma and the town of Zarzis

– the governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla

– within 10km of the border with Algeria south of Kasserine governorate

– within 30km of the border in El Kef and Jendouba governorates south of the town of Jendouba, including the archaeological site of Chemtou

– areas north and west of the town of Ghardimaou in Jendouba governorate

For the rest of the country, the FO just suggests reading its travel advice before travelling, which can be found here.

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No sign of Brexit breakthrough after Boris Johnson meets Jean-Claude Juncker for talks

The European Union has indicated there has been no breakthrough in efforts to reach a new Brexit deal with the UK after saying Boris Johnson put no real proposals forward during a meeting with leaders.

Mr Johnson met European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker for the first face-to-face talks between the pair since he became Prime Minister almost two months ago.

They met over a working lunch in Mr Juncker’s native Luxembourg – six weeks ahead of the Brexit date – for discussions which were later described as “friendly”.

But a statement from the European Commission, released after the meeting, said the UK had made no progress in putting forward any realistic alternatives to the backstop proposal in the old Brexit deal.

No solutions put forward

Mr Johnson has explicitly said he will not accept the backstop, which is designed to prevent a hard border between the UK and Ireland, and promised to come up with a workable solution to replace it.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrives with European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the European Commission (Photo: Getty Images)

But the EU said following Monday’s talks that the Government had still not made “legally operational solutions” to replace the backstop element of the deal.

A statement released following the lunch at Luxembourg City’s Le Bouquet Garni restaurant said: “President Juncker recalled that it is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement.

“President Juncker underlined the Commission’s continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made.”

Both Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier were also at the lunchtime meeting with the Prime Minister and commission president.

Boos for the PM

As the Prime Minister departed after talks, he was met with boos and chants from a group of protesters shouting “bog off Boris” and “stop Brexit”.

Mr Johnson was booed by protesters as he left the talks (Photo: Getty Images)

Downing Street said the meeting was “constructive” and reiterated that Mr Johnson had no intention of requesting another Brexit delay if a new deal is not agreed by the middle of October.

This is despite the fact the Prime Minister could be forced to seek another extension due to new legislation passed by opposition MPs.

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A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister and President Juncker had a constructive meeting this lunchtime. The Brexit Secretary and Michel Barnier were also in attendance.

“The leaders took stock of the ongoing talks between the UK’s team and Taskforce 50. The Prime Minister reconfirmed his commitment to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and his determination to reach a deal with the backstop removed, that UK parliamentarians could support.

“The Prime Minister also reiterated that he would not request an extension and would take the UK out of the EU on the 31st October.

“The leaders agreed that the discussions needed to intensify and that meetings would soon take place on a daily basis. It was agreed that talks should also take place at a political level between Michel Barnier and the Brexit Secretary, and conversations would also continue between President Juncker and the Prime Minister”.

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Officials say snap elections reveal ‘cracks’ in voting system that is ‘no longer fit for purpose’

The Government has been urged to take a risk assessment of its own capabilities when it comes to snap elections, after a new report from British election officials highlighted the “cracks” in the current system.

As an unscheduled general election looms, a new report from Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) has outlined the key issues in delivering a safe and trusted election. The body has called for urgent reforms of the UK’s election laws, and for the Cabinet Office to develop contingency and succession plans to ensure it can support the wider electoral community.

The AEA has warned in its Electoral Landscape in 2019 report that there is an “unrealistic expectation that elections will always be delivered regardless of the landscape, timing, funding or the capacity of the professionals administering them”.

It said it remains concerned that an apparent lack of capacity and the Government’s “unwillingness” to allow officials to engage with the electoral community and make “sensible contingency preparations” that would “introduce significant risk to the delivery of unscheduled polls”

Rob Curtis, AEA chairman, said in light of the report that “our current system is no longer fit for purpose”.

Election issues

A polling station set up in a pub during the European Parliament elections, near Tonbridge on 23 May 2019 (AFP/Getty Images)
The AEA also cites an “urgent need for the simplification, consolidation and modernisation” of legislation around elections (AFP/Getty Images)

“For entirely understandable but clearly avoidable reasons, there appears to be a lack of technical knowledge and experience that we believe urgently needs addressing,” the report noted.

“We encourage the Cabinet Office to undertake a risk assessment of its own capabilities to support unscheduled electoral events and to develop contingency and succession plans to ensure that it can best support the wider electoral community in their delivery.”

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The report highlights structural issues, such as the speed at which postal votes can be sent overseas and ballots posted back, following the nomination deadline. For example, under normal circumstances some elections would have just four weeks for ballot papers to be printed, despatched and returned in time to be counted.

It states that during the unscheduled European Parliament elections, there were reports of overseas electors being unable to participate due toe overlapping elections timetables, which reduced printing capacity.

The AEA also cites an “urgent need for the simplification, consolidation and modernisation” of legislation around elections, believing that there is unnecessary risk and confusion in current reform, leading to inconsistencies between the rules used at different elections.

Other issues noted included a lack of willingness on behalf of the government to liaise with election officials over contingency planning for unscheduled elections and worries that the budgets calculated by the government for short-notice polls are insufficient, putting pressure on already-stretched local authorities to cover any unaccounted-for expenses.

‘Cracks are beginning to show’

Constituents cast their votes at The Christ the Carpenter church Hall polling station in Peterborough on 6 June 2019 (AFP/Getty Images)
Moving of the 2020 May bank holiday to the day after scheduled elections in the UK could have knock-on effects to staff numbers and the smooth running of election counts (AFP/Getty Images)

It is also noted that the moving of the 2020 May bank holiday to the day after scheduled elections in the UK could have knock-on effects to staff numbers and the smooth running of election counts, citing a likely increase in costs.

Peter Stanyon, AEA chief executive, said: “These are unprecedented times in electoral administration, with yet another unscheduled nationwide poll being prepared for by stretched and often under-resourced teams.

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Electoral administrators always deliver but cracks are beginning to show. The need for urgent and positive action to support electoral delivery is more pressing than ever.”

Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement Cat Smith said: “This damning report highlights the wilful neglect of this government towards our electoral system.

“It is widely accepted that our electoral laws are in desperate need of reform yet the Tories have done nothing to address this.

“It was even the Government’s refusal to innovate that led to the democratic disaster at European elections which saw thousands of electors denied their vote.

“We cannot allow the Tories to undermine our democratic processes, which is why we need a comprehensive review of our entire electoral framework as a matter of urgency.”

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “We are confident in our system’s preparedness for future elections. But we are always looking for ways to improve our electoral system and will carefully consider the recommendations of this report.

“We appreciate the vital work of electoral administrators in maintaining our democracy.”

Additional reporting by PA 

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Juncker still waiting on workable solutions on Brexit backstop from Johnson

LUXEMBOURG — The U.K. has not yet produced “legally operational solutions” to the problem of the Northern Ireland border after Brexit, according to a European Commission statement issued after a meeting between Jean-Claude Juncker and Boris Johnson.

It is the first time that the Commission president and U.K. prime minister have met face-to-face since Johnson took over from Theresa May in July. They were accompanied over lunch in Luxembourg by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.

Both sides billed the meeting as a chance to “take stock” of the talks, but the Commission statement said there had been no game-changing proposals from Johnson’s team. “President Juncker recalled that it is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement,” the Commission statement read. “President Juncker underlined the Commission’s continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made.”

An EU27 diplomat clarified that “’legally operational’ means that these solutions can be implemented by day one.”

The Commission statement said there had been no game-changing proposals from Johnson’s team.

A Downing Street spokesman said the talks had been “constructive,” adding: “The leaders agreed that the discussions needed to intensify and that meetings would soon take place on a daily basis.”

A second EU27 diplomat expressed pessimism about the chances of a deal. “I’m increasingly convinced there is no  plan,” he said.

“The only plan is to move [the Irish border problem] into transition,” he added, referring to the standstill period immediately after the U.K. leaves the EU. “They are willing to do a deal but we don’t like what they seem to offer because it’s way over our redlines.”

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The Cameron Interview: what time it’s on ITV tonight, and what David Cameron tells Tom Bradby

David Cameron‘s autobiography has been causing controversy ever since the book was announced, and now in the week that it is published the former Prime Minister is taking to TV to discuss his time in office.

Cameron is felt by many to be the man who should shoulder the blame for the whole Brexit mess, for it was he who called the referendum in 2016 in the first place, but his explosive book blames his former colleagues instead.

With the main stories from the memoir – titled For the Record – making headlines this weekend, the former leader is now set to be interviewed on primetime TV – will he defend his actions?

Here’s your need to know about the interview:

When is it on TV?

The Cameron Interview is on ITV on Monday 16 September at 8pm. It is half an hour long.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron resigns on the steps of 10 Downing Street (Photo: Getty)

Who is interviewing Cameron and what will they cover?

The interviewer will be Tom Bradby, ITV News’ political editor between 2005 and 2015, who currently presents News at Ten and political discussion series The Agenda with Tom Bradby.

It has been three years since Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister, following the country’s momentous vote to leave the European Union.

This will be his first in-depth television interview about his time in office. Cameron will talk extensively to Bradby about the highs and lows of his premiership, his thoughts on the 2016 vote, and its consequences for the UK.

What has previously come out from the book?

In his book, Cameron calls Boris Johnson a liar and claims he backed the Leave campaign to boost his career.

He said the now-Prime Minister wanted to become the “darling of the party” and suggested that Johnson “didn’t want to risk allowing someone else with a high profile – Michael Gove in particular – to win that crown”.

He added: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
David Cameron's new book is being serialised (Photo: Richard Ansett/BBC)
David Cameron’s new book is published this week (Photo: Richard Ansett/BBC)

He also accused cabinet minister Gove, who used to be one of his closest political friends, of being a “foam-flecked Faragist” whose “one quality” was disloyalty.

Describing his former colleagues’ behaviour during the EU referendum campaign, Cameron wrote: “Both of them behaved appallingly, attacking their own government, turning a blind eye to their side’s unpleasant actions and becoming ambassadors for the expert-trashing, truth-twisting age of populism.”

Read more:

David Cameron’s book: Everything we’ve learned from his memoir ‘For The Record’

David Cameron claims Boris Johnson supported Brexit to boost his career

Meanwhile, he added that he was perturbed about the Brexit situation: “I think about this every day. Every single day I think about it, the referendum and the fact that we lost and the consequences and the things that could have been done differently, and I worry desperately about what is going to happen next.

“I think we can get to a situation where we leave but we are friends, neighbours and partners. We can get there, but I would love to fast-forward to that moment because it’s a painful memory for the country and it’s painful to watch.”

Asked if he found sleeping hard, he said: “I worry about it a lot. I worry about it a lot.”

The post The Cameron Interview: what time it’s on ITV tonight, and what David Cameron tells Tom Bradby appeared first on inews.co.uk.

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