Speaker Bercow has selected just three amendments to be voted on by MPs who will consider the government’s latest amendable Brexit motion this evening.The most closely fought is likely to be Tory Remainer Anna Soubry’s, which calls on the government to release the most recent briefing to cabinet on the implications of a no-deal Brexit. Labour has yet to confirm it will support this amendment. This motion is not binding so the government will not have to release the briefing – although they will come under pressure to if it passes.If Soubry’s amendment passes, there will be no vote on the government’s motion. The government’s motion is to reiterate parliament’s support for what parliament voted for on 29th January. This was when parliament voted to send Theresa May back to Brussels to renegotiate and, in a separate vote, to rule out no deal. The hard-Brexit wing of the Tories object to reiterating support for ruling out no deal and so may vote against the government.The Labour leadership have their own amendment selected. It aims to stop Theresa May running the clock down on Brexit by requiring the government to hold another meaningful vote or allow parliament to take control of the process should the Prime Minister have failed to secure support for a deal before February 26th.The final selected amendment is the SNP’s, backed by the Lib Dems which calls for the government to immediately begin negotiations with the EU to extend Article 50 by at least three months. The SNP says this is “to avoid the Brexit cliff edge”.Ken Clarke’s amendment requiring indicative votes has not been selected. Neither has Sarah Wollaston’s, which would have made parliament hold binding votes on four options (May’s deal, no deal, Norway and referendum). If more than one of these options had been approved, then the public would choose between them.Tags:Parliament /SNP /Labour /Vote / Brexit /Corbyn /Amendment /Soubry /
If you’re a fan of the film Groundhog Day, you’ll love PMQs. A cynical party leader finds himself reliving the same day over and over again when he visits the despatch box in the small town of Westminster to film a report about the Brexit process. Yes, as ever, Theresa May refused to answer any of the questions posed by Jeremy Corbyn, who made valiant efforts to get something, anything, out of the Prime Minister on the next steps for Brexit.First, no deal. Corbyn noted that both the Chancellor and Business Secretary have admitted there exists a large majority in the Commons opposed to a no-deal Brexit. Since the things for which there exists a parliamentary majority are few and far between nowadays, it seemed quite sensible when he asked: “Will the Prime Minister listen to her own cabinet members and take no-deal off the table?”. Like fingernails down a blackboard, May replied that if MPs want to avoid no deal, they have to vote for a deal, i.e. hers, because no alternative is being considered, even though May’s deal has already been overwhelmingly rejected.All this talk of avoiding no deal naturally brought the PM onto the subject of Corbyn’s preconditions for talks. Echoing the comments of Tory MPs, and some on the Labour benches too, she said Corbyn “has been willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, without preconditions”. She went on: “Yet he won’t meet me to talk about Brexit. In this case, he’s neither present nor involved.” Ba dum tss, a wreath-laying joke to top off the useless reply.Second, amendments to the government’s Brexit deal. Corbyn wanted to know whether the amendments that have been tabled – there’s the official Labour one, but also those laid down by Yvette Cooper, Rachel Reeves and others aimed at preventing no deal – would be effective. “Given that those amendments are now tabled, will the Prime Minister confirm that, if passed, they would rule out no-deal?” Although she repeated the view that extending Article 50 “does not solve the issue”, May wouldn’t confirm nor deny.Third, and most importantly, a customs union. Does she rule out a new UK-EU customs union in the future relationship? No answer. The PM picked holes in the straight-forward question (“Does he mean accepting the common external tariff? … the common commercial policy? … the union customs code? … EU state aid rules?) but didn’t categorically exclude the possibility.Using his next question to press May for an answer, she explained her belief that the deal already negotiated delivers both the benefits of a customs union and allows the UK to have its own trade policy. She then essentially accused Corbyn of stupidity, saying: “If he won’t talk about it, there’s only conclusion: he hasn’t got a clue.” And later added: “He just stands up – uses this phrases. And the honest answer is I don’t think he knows what those phrases mean and what the implications of those phrases are.”The only facts we can take away from the May-Corbyn exchange at PMQs today are that, while disapproving of both, she has not ruled out either extending Article 50 or agreeing to a permanent customs union. Over the next few weeks, whether these red lines melt away is key to defining the outcome of the Brexit process. Could we see May risk Tory unity by conceding on a customs union and Corbyn agree to support such a deal? The Prime Minister’s personal hostility points to ‘no’, but her reluctance to rule out these options suggests it is possible. Tags:PMQs /Theresa May /Labour /Jeremy Corbyn /Brexit /
SAINTS has continued its investment in young British talent by signing Jack Owens on a two-year deal.The 21-year-old outside back has played 66 times since making his debut at just 16 for Widnes Vikings scoring 30 tries and 122 goals.Equally adept at full back and on the wing, he made his bow for England academy on his 17th birthday before playing in Super League the following season.“Jack is an experienced Super League player who is young and will no doubt improve over the coming seasons,” Saints Head Coach Keiron Cunningham said. “He play in a number of positions and will add depth to our squad for 2016.“He has a good attitude and is keen to learn and develop.”Owens was Widnes’ top point scorer in 2013 and last season scoring 166 and 114 points respectively.Jack said: “I have played for Widnes since I was 12 and really enjoyed the experience and my time there. But it got to a point where my game time was limited so I asked Denis Betts and the coaching staff if I could go out and play somewhere else for the 2016 season.“They agreed and the opportunity came up to play for St Helens. I felt it was the best option for me and I cannot wait to kick on and start the season.“It’s a bit alien for me as I have always had the same coach and group of players around me. I’m excited to meet the players here and see how Keiron Cunningham and his coaching team do things.“I know I have to earn the right to play, especially with talent the club has – and that means proving to the players and the coaches I deserve to play.“If I do that, then I need work hard and play well to hold on to that spot.“Before then, my focus is on pre-season, getting fit and developing my skills.”2016 Members can hear from Jack tonight at the club’s kit launch from 6.15pm – More details here.
This may be you.At some point in your life you may have decided to shut up and withdraw. You may have decided that it was no longer safe, no longer prudent to air your opinions. Each time you did that, your reward was censure, pain. So you withdrew. A coping strategy to avoid pain.Today withdrawal is not only easy, it is also disguised as socialising. Virtual socialising, that is, in the form of the social media. We surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and our flight mechanism finds not only refuge in these virtual groups but also vindication, an ‘I am not alone’ feeling. This for Pope Francis is the web, the antithesis of the Net.Net versus WebIn his message for World Communications Day 2019, Pope Francis placed at opposite ends the Net and the Web.The Net is a force for good, a resource for humanity, as the synodal document for media in the Archdiocese of Malta “Il-Wiċċ Diġitli tal-Mulej” states. Its usefulness is as great as the amount of good that it can generate for humanity. It can bring people together and multiply exponentially the availability of knowledge. It can spread ideas and foster dialogue. It can be a safety net for the transmission of love and knowledge across time and space.The Web, well, not so good, there. Like Janus’ other face, the web entraps people into virtual worlds, letting them believe that their cocoons are reality when in effect they are a manufacture of an unwillingness to open up and communicate. This is a world of echo chambers where ideas are perpetrated not challenged, where comfort takes the place of growth. There is not dialogue in the web, just agreement, like those perpetually nodding dolls. There is not openness in the Web, just an ‘Unfriend’ button to silence dissenters.Archbishop Scicluna’s answer to the TrapAnd therein lies the Trap. What will our answer be? What shall we choose, the sirenely seductive comfort zone of the Web or the brave new world of challenges in the Net?Enter a man whom I have been observing closely over the past few months. Archbishop Scicluna, is not one for comfort zones. He has shown leadership at times when those voted into leadership positions on a national scale balked, waited for an accurate wind-check before jumping. Not he, on at least two occasions.In the afternoon of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Archbishop Scicluna was scheduled to come for his monthly program on RTK/Newsbook. Two hours before the start of the programme the murder took place and a bare 30 mins after the confirmation of the identity of the assassinated person, Archbishop Scicluna kept his appointment. I have rarely seen anyone so genuinely upset and concerned. His brave position was crystal clear. He came in for an inordinate amount of hate-speech but he did not withdraw. His persistence stemmed from love, not of the one journalist, but love of truth and the strength to speak truth to power. This man, whom Popes entrust with rooting out the wickedest depredations, is a close friend of truth, in spite of the hurt it often brings him. He chose the Net because the Net unites in communication.Archbishop Scicluna’s more recent foray was after the murder of Ivorean national Soulayman Lassana Cisse, a man rejected for asylum and murdered for the colour of his skin. In a climate of increasing exclusion and xenophobia, Archbishop Scicluna underlined the need that communication must be born of love not of hate, of inclusion not exclusion, of solidarity not egoism. Again, he came in for relentless flak. Again he avoided the trap and persisted.Take home lessonsIf there is anything which we can take with us from these two diverse yet similar persons, Pope Francis and Archbishop Scicluna, it is surely the courage to speak up, to overcome the often over-powering inclination to withdraw into a safe-haven of isolation provided by virtual reality. Love, in its various forms, communicates, and communication is essential for the person to grow and mature. Communication also requires integrity and compassion, for, after all, no one is always right. But communication is an intrinsic part of dialogue: hear, listen, think, interact. We can use the Net in this way. Or, we can fall into the Trap and use the Web instead. SharePrint WhatsApp