The Perils of kissing Toads

More on Mr Toad’s State Visit

may99The Wicked Witch of Westminster (aka Teresa May) seems quite determined to persist in having Mr Toad (aka Donald Trump) come to England.  This despite the certainty that any Trump visit will provoke massive protests from the public.  Those of us (just 1.8 million people) who signed the petition calling for the visit to be cancelled are to be disregarded.

Apparently neither the Petition, nor the 30,000 people who demonstrated in Whitehall,  managed to persuade the Prime Minister to think again.

The Guardian has this: “UK government says Trump will receive ‘full courtesy’ of state visit – Response to petition calling for cancellation of visit signed by 1.8m people says No 10 does not support their view

 The article also reports: “On Friday, Westminster sources told the Guardian the government was seeking to avoid a snub by scheduling Trump’s visit for late August or September, when parliament would not be sitting. Officials are also said to be keen to reduce the president’s public exposure generally during the visit, in order to minimise the opportunities for protest.
As discussed yesterday  it was being suggested that the event might be visited upon the people of Birmingham.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes in the Guardian: “Will Trump’s presidency finally kill the myth of the special relationship? – Ever since Winston Churchill invented it in 1946, successive prime ministers have discovered that the bond between the US and UK is anything but sacred. So, why does this absurd idea refuse to go away?

This is a long and very persuasive article and its conclusions are compelling:-

  • Now the British government is engaged in what is likely to be a very difficult divorce that threatens to turn downright nasty, and one in which, whatever ministers or tabloids may say, our erstwhile European allies hold most of the cards. The Daily Mail may harbour the fantasy that May’s friendship with Trump has “foreshadowed a dramatic shift in the balance of global trade” that will send our EU exes into spasms of jealousy. But what has Trump done that might possibly be considered helpful to the British?
  • And in any case, how can it possibly be in our interests to bind Britain to a man who is so obviously temperamentally unsuited for high office?
  • It is not Trump’s repellent personal conduct that should worry Theresa May, or even his hateful attitudes, so much as the glaring fact that he is the most unstable and irrational leader of a great power for perhaps a century.

Trouble Back at Toad Hall


A CBS Reporter recently commenced the evening newscast with the observation: “It has been a busy day for Presidential statements divorced from reality.”  Well, this time there has been a Presidential Statement with some reality reported in the Telegraph:  “Michael Flynn resigns as Donald Trump’s national security adviser over contacts with Russian officials

Tucked away towards the end of the report, there was this:-

Sally Yates, the then-acting US attorney general, told the White House late last month she believed Mr Flynn had misled them about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador, current and former US officials told the Washington Post on Monday….She said Mr Flynn might have put himself into a compromising position, possibly leaving himself vulnerable to blackmail, the officials said.  Ms Yates was later fired for opposing Mr Trump’s temporary entry ban for people from seven mostly Muslim nations.”

Mrs May may well have been induced into the belief  that Mr Trump would rescue her from the perils of the Brexit Beasts – but the moral of the story is that kissing toads does not always produce a handsome prince.

Is the Trump State Visit Premature?

 Problems with the proposed Trump Visit


It seems that some people in Downing Street and the White House are trying to rescue the proposed Trump State Visit to the UK.  The Telegraph had this: “Donald Trump’s state visit to UK may be moved from London to Brexit heartland amid security concerns“.  Interestingly, the online article had an embedded opinion poll and, at breakfast time,  57% of respondents did not wish the Trump visit to go ahead at all.

The article was written by the Torygraph’s  Chief Political Correspondent who undoubtedly has a very good idea of what is being considered in Downing Street. He wrote:-

Trump advisers and senior Foreign Office figures have discussed how to save the controversial visit.   One idea, which has been suggested to the White House, is for President Trump to address a rally in Birmingham where the audience would pay to enter, with profits going to the Royal British Legion…. One source close to the president said: “It would be his biggest rally with 85,000 people coming together to celebrate the US-UK special relationship. If he is not speaking to the Houses of Parliament, let’s go to the people. The only person who gets screwed is the Speaker of the House of Commons.

In other words this is stage management.  Put together a selected ticket only audience. Make sure the tickets only go to supporters.  Make sure everything looks good on TV.

But why should Birmingham be the stooge?  One of the biggest issues making a Trump visit nationally unpopular is his Islamophobia.

According to the 2011 census, there are 2.7 million Muslims in the UK, 47.2% of which are UK born. 24.8% of the population of Birmingham identify as Muslim – double the London percentage.  How many Birmingham Muslims  will support a Trump visit there ?

Indeed,  how many supporters of the Royal British Legion would support a staged Trump event in Birmingham ?

This is a report in the Birmingham Mail:  “The ‘forgotten’ army of 400,000 Muslim soldiers who fought in Great War trenches for Britain – Birmingham pupils to be taught about bravery of Indian troops – and then interview their descendants“.

As the article points out:  one of the Muslim heros of WW1 was Khudadad Khan VC of the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis.

A very large number of those Trump sought to exclude from the USA were people who served with the US Army and its allies (i.e including UK forces)  in various theatres, notably Afghanistan and Iraq.

One would hope that supporters of the Royal British Legion would bear in mind this article in the Independent:  “Victoria Cross recipient Johnson Beharry ‘humiliated’ by Trump ‘Muslim ban’ – ‘I explained that I had been in Iraq fighting for the British Army but they didn’t seem to care’“.

During his campaign, Trump said there were more British Muslims in ISIS than in the Army.  This was untrue – See this in the Guardian:  “Is Donald Trump right that more British Muslims fight for Isis than the UK army?“.

Helpfully, the Birmingham Mail has this: “You’re welcome in Birmingham, President Trump, but listen and learn from our city

“Come and meet the people of Britain’s most multicultural city, where we champion everybody’s rights and cherish free speech.  Come and meet doctors and nurses of all colours and creeds daily saving lives in our hospitals. Come and meet the car workers of many nationalities who work together on the production lines, helping power the region’s economy. Come and meet pupils eager to learn in classes where more than 40 languages are spoken , and who happily play together.  Come and meet the refugees starting new lives in our great city, most of them from the nations you seek to deny entry to the US.   We will prove you wrong, just as we proved Enoch Powell wrong after he made his Rivers of Blood speech here in April 1968.

The Independent Reports: “Donald Trump told he won’t escape the ‘biggest protest in British history’ by moving his state visit – Local politicians in Birmingham have pledged to greet any trip by the President with mass protests“.  The article provides assertions from many movers and shakers in Birmingham that any visit by Trump will provoke major demonstrations.

The cross-party Stop Trump Coalition formed in the wake of those protests. It enjoys support from Labour, SNP, Green and Liberal Democrat MPs – as well as the general secretaries of major trade unions, including Unison, GMB, FBU, RMT, and the TUC.

Why a State Visit is Premature

It is worth looking at the latest opinion US Polls:  Gallup has this for Trump:  Approve 40% – Disapprove 55%.  PPP has this for Congress:  Approve 16% – Disapprove 68%. The Economist and YouGov have these figures for the direction of the USA:  Right Direction 31% – Wrong Direction 55%  and  Reuters/Ipsos have a like poll which differs by only 1 percentage point.

Andrew Sullivan writes in the New York Magazine:  “The Madness of King Donald” :-

I want to start with Trump’s lies. It’s now a commonplace that Trump and his underlings tell whoppers. Fact-checkers have never had it so good. But all politicians lie. Bill Clinton could barely go a day without some shading or parsing of the truth. Richard Nixon was famously tricky. But all the traditional political fibbers nonetheless paid some deference to the truth — even as they were dodging it. They acknowledged a shared reality and bowed to it. They acknowledged the need for a common set of facts in order for a liberal democracy to function at all. Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission.


Perhaps we should bear in mind that sometimes the  electoral process  gets things wrong.  History is full of examples of democratic countries ending up with the wrong leader who then has to be replaced, one way or another. The same rule is also true for referenda – which is why they sometimes have to be re-run.   The USA and the UK are no exception to that general rule.

That is why  in the UK-USA “special relationship” it is generally a good idea to wait and see how a President does before a state visit takes place.  Perhaps the Trump visit is premature and should be deferred for a little while then reconsidered in, say, 2 years’ time.


Trump & May -v- The Refugees

Mr Toad and Refugees


In a measured “Per Curiam” Order, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit  has denied President Donald Trump’s motion for a stay of the Temporary Restraining Order staying  the enforcement of the Executive Order prohibiting for 90 days the entry to the USA of citizens of  Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and suspending for 120 days the US Refugee Admissions Program.

Very helpfully, the New York Times has made the full text of the 29 page decision available to its readers here:  Ninth Circuit’s Decision on Trump’s Travel Ban  It is a very carefully written decision and the reaction one gets is that the principles of the judicial review of administrative action, a concept the United States inherited from England, are alive and well in the Federal Courts of the USA.

The New York Times report is here: “Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss“.

The Daily Telegraph reports the decision as comprehensively as does the New York Times: “Appellate court ruling on Donald Trump’s travel ban: What does it mean and what did the court consider?

trumpvstoadNeedless to say, Mr Toad has already responded on Twitter: “SEE YOU IN COURT THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE“.   He  does not say which Court.  There are 3 possible options: (1) go back to the District Court, (2) apply for an en banc review by all the Judges of the 9th Circuit  (3) apply to the Supreme Court.

The District Court may be the sensible option.  An en banc review of the TRO decision is unlikely to succeed.  There are also problems with a further appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is presently one Justice short and if it splits evenly the rule is that the Court of Appeals ruling stands.

The Daily Telegraph report adds this  which was not in the New York Times:-

“Rory Little, a former Supreme Court clerk who teaches at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, doesn’t think that’s such a good idea [appealing to the Supreme Court].   In addition to seeking to overturn a reasoned decision, he said, Mr Trump would be facing Chief Justice John Roberts, who just wrote an annual report in which he raved about his District Court judges.  The president repeatedly insulted the Seattle judge who ruled against him, in addition to the appeals judges who followed suit. “I think Kennedy and Roberts are seething about the president insulting their judges,” Mr Little said. “If they go to the US Supreme Court, they risk getting a serious adverse ruling.”

Wikipedia reports that Mr Trump has been involved in some 3,500 court disputes which is an impressive number, but, of course,  he has not had the benefit of having held previous public office where his decisions might have been subject to judicial review.

Mr Toad and the Wicked Witch of Westminster

Mr Toad & the Wicked Witch

No doubt, during their next meeting or phone call, Mr Toad and the Wicked Witch of Westminster can have a collective moan about Judges who seek to right wrongs.

She has had problems with refugees and judicial review too. While she was Home Secretary Teresa May was frequently unhappy with judicial review of her decisions.

That may well be why she is trying as hard as she can to exclude the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and, if possible, the European Court of Human Rights which enable the UK Courts to enforce Convention Rights.

Mrs May has ongoing problems with the refugee situation- particularly that relating to Syria.   The Guardian has this:  “High court to hear legal challenge over end of Dubs scheme in May – Challenge against Amber Rudd’s decision to cap resettlement of lone child refugees in the UK being brought by Help Refugees“.

The same newspaper has this: “Archbishop and Tory MPs criticise closure of child refugee scheme – Pressure grows on PM and home secretary over closure of scheme to bring child refugees to UK after only 350 arrivals

Mrs May’s successor as Home Secretary, Amber Rudd,  is a trustee of the Snowdon Trust – which helps disabled children.  But apparently she won’t help traumatised refugee children across the Channel.  But if Mrs May, herself a vicar’s daughter, will not heed the Archbishop of Canterbury when he tells her that “Jesus commands us to care for the most vulnerable”,  then one has to look elsewhere.

And  the Guardian also this: “Calais child asylum seekers launch legal action against UK government – Thirty-six teenagers accuse home secretary of reneging on promise to bring vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children to Britain

The last article includes this:-

The judicial review focuses on the specific circumstances of one 14-year-old boy from Afghanistan as well as on the broader issues affecting all of the children.  The boy’s father helped Nato troops and was targeted by the Taliban as a result. The boy was shot in the neck by the Taliban when they came to the family home searching for his father. He was lucky to survive and fled his home country and travelled through eight countries to reach France. Along the way he was buried alive while travelling in a car attacked by Iranian military, almost starved to death when he spent four days and nights in a Bulgarian forest, was physically and sexually exploited by people traffickers and was shot with rubber bullets and teargas while in the Calais camp. His wrist was broken there when he was beaten by a French police officer wielding a baton. He tried to kill himself on four occasions while in Calais.

His legal team at Duncan Lewis Solicitors wrote to the Home Office on 2 November and 5 December to raise concerns about the boy’s condition but neither letter received a response. While social workers have assessed him to be suffering from suicidal ideation and depression, and an independent psychiatrist assessed him to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and to be a “traumatised and vulnerable boy” who needs treatment, a Home Office social worker who assessed him said there was no evidence that he had any particular emotional or psychological needs.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

It is to be hoped that Her Majesty’s Judges will do something.








The Brexit Bill – Part II

The Wicked Witch prevails in the House of Commons

ww-westminsterThe Daily Telegraph has this:  “Brexit vote: Theresa May wins Commons approval to trigger Article 50 as Labour’s Clive Lewis resigns“:

It was a flawless night for Theresa May, as the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was passed by 494 votes to 122 in its original, unamended form.”

The Financial Times report is here: “Commons gives green light to Brexit process – MPs vote overwhelmingly to approve triggering of Article 50“:

Theresa May, the prime minister, largely managed to quell a rebellion within her own Conservative party. Instead, it has been the opposition Labour party that has struggled to paper over the cracks. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn lost Clive Lewis, one of his key lieutenants as a result of his decision to order his MPs to vote with the government. A total of 52 MPs rebelled against his bid not to antagonise millions of Labour supporters who voted for Brexit last year. This included Mr Lewis, the shadow business secretary.

The FT also has this: “Theresa May outfoxes pro-EU opponents on Brexit vote – In three months, the prime minister turned High Court defeat into victory“.   But it is also worth re-reading what the FT reported on 6th February last: “Business leaders say Brexit already having negative effect“.

The Guardian has this editorial:  “The Guardian view on parliament and Brexit: MPs fail their first test – The courts ruled that legislators must decide on Britain’s place in Europe. The Commons has not learned its lessons yet” which merits perusal:-

Two thirds or more of MPs think that Brexit is the wrong course. But, as Wednesday night’s vote confirmed, too many of them felt compelled to go through the lobbies in support of a bill that they believe, correctly in our view, will damage Britain. It is not they as individuals who have been found wanting. It is parliament.”

Interestingly, the Conservative Home web site has published a letter which seems to have persuaded numbers of Tory Rebels to back off:  See “The Home Secretary’s letter to Conservative MPs offering assurances on the status of EU nationals“.  A copy of the letter itself is below.  It may give some comfort to EU nationals in the UK.


Of course, that still does not explain why the commitment could not have gone into the bill.  And, of course, British business and the public sector too, will have many problems if the UK should leave the single market.  In fact, the “Brexit effect” is already hurting business – see the FT article above.

Trump = Mr Toad

The problem is that the Wicked Witch seems to have more faith in the Donald Trump approach to international trade than she does in our European partners.  Unbridled nativism seems to have infected the leadership of both sides in the Anglo-American “special relationship”.


corbynremInterestingly, the same site also has this: “Garvan Walshe: How a real leader of the Opposition would deal with Article 50“.

It is well worth reading and it is indeed the kind of thing that Jeremy Corbyn should have said – the peroration is particularly worthwhile:-

Though we think it is right to implement the decision made in the referendum, we cannot support the Government’s attempt to invoke Article 50 at this stage. Our support is conditional on four tests. We should begin negotiations trying to stay in the Single Market, not abandon it as a negotiating goal at the beginning. We should should fight for British citizens’ rights to live and work in Europe, not give them up in advance. As the campaign was won on the basis that there would be £350 million a week more to spend on the NHS, we will not support invocation until the health budget is increased to give effect to the promise. Nor do we think we should notify our intention to leave the EU until a compromise that protects the interests of the devolved regions of the UK has been achieved.

We cannot, Mr Speaker, support the kind of Brexit the Prime Minister is proposing. Hers is an extreme Brexit, pessimistic about the kind of relationship we can have with Europe, and naive about what we can persuade the rest of the world to give us. It’s driven by ideology rather than the practical interests of the British people. If she comes back to this House with a Brexit plan that meets our four criteria, she will have shown the realism that these tough negotiations will require, and we will then provide our support. But until that is done, in the interests of the United Kingdom, the duty of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is to oppose.

Well said, and one hopes their Lordships in the Upper House will read it too.  Because the bill now goes to the House of Lords.

About the House of Lords

Parliament – House of Lords

The House of Lords (aka the House of Peers or the Upper House) presently consists of 805 members – which makes it the largest upper chamber of any bicameral democracy.  The government does not have a majority in the House of Lords.  A great number of the Members are people  who have been appointed in recognition of their experience in fields such as the Sciences, the Law, Medicine, and in Commerce – with the result that House has much in-house expertise on a very wide range of subjects.   Many of these Members only attend when their specialist knowledge will assist the House.  Some appointments to the House are, of course political.  The present political composition of the House is:  Conservatives: 252,  Labour: 203, Liberal Democrats: 102,  Cross Benchers: 178.  Non Affiliated: 30, Bishops: 26 and Others:  14.

The Lords sees itself as primarily a revising Chamber.  It seeks to improve bills sent to it by the Commons by proposing amendments which go back and forth between the two houses – a process known as “Parliamentary Ping Pong”.   The Lords cannot amend money bills and can only delay other bills from the Commons for about a year.

But a year of Parliamentary Ping Pong over the Brexit bill is not what the Government wants – so we heard the Brexit Secretary saying in the Commons after passage of the Bill:

I mean, the simple thing is the Lords is a very important institution.  I expect it to do its job and to do its patriotic duty and actually give us the right to go on and negotiate that new relationship (with the EU”)

The House of Lords Order Paper for today shows that the Government is going to try to get the Bill through the Lords as quickly as possible.  It will be interesting to see how that goes down with their Lordships.  Hopefully the House with not abdicate its responsibilities.


Labour Fail on the Brexit Bill

The Brexit Bill – Commons Process

ww-westminsterThe Wicked Witch’s Brexit Bill has nearly completed its stages in the House of Commons. The Guardian has this: “Article 50 bill: May sees off attempt to give MPs veto over Brexit deal – Commons votes 326 to 293 to approve government plan that will give MPs vote on final Brexit deal on ‘take it or leave it’ basis

As the report makes clear, there   was a 326 to 293  vote to approve the government’s plan without amendment, with just seven Conservative rebels voting against their party and a few more abstaining.  But the few Conservative abstentions were offset by six pro Brexit Labour MPs.  So it looks as though the bill will pass all its Commons stages tonight without any meaningful amendment.

The Financial Times has this:  “Parliament to have ‘take it or leave it’ vote on Brexit – Tories defeat Labour amendment that would have given MPs effective veto“.

corbynThe problem is, of course, that Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet has decided to support the Brexit bill regardless notwithstanding the fact that most of his party campaigned for a Remain vote.

The Daily Telegraph has this: “Brexit live: Jeremy Corbyn faces major rebellion as MPs prepare for final vote on Article 50 Bill“.

The Torygraph  might even be right but if it should turn out to be right, it is doubtful that the numbers of rebels will be sufficient to modify the anticipated outcome.

A later post to the Telegraph live page has this: “Brexit live: Jeremy Corbyn denies he is stepping down as he faces major rebellion on Article 50 Bill“.   If the denial is truthful, then it is a pity.  The sooner we have an effective Leader of the Opposition the better.

In effect, the whole effort in the Divisional Court and the Supreme Court to require Parliament to have control over the Brexit process looks as it it has has been wasted .

The Scotsman reports: “Poll: Support for independence leaps after ‘hard Brexit’“.

corbynremThe Article notes that MSP’s have rejected May’s proposals by 90 to 34 in the Scottish Parliament. That is unsurprising.  The Scots have always had a much better understanding of economics and finance than the English. They know on which side of the bread the butter is to be found.  The problem is, of course that nothing that happens in Scotland is going to persuade Corbyn to do the right thing.  Since the 2015 General Election there has only been a single Scottish Labour MP in Westminster.

The Mirror gets it right: “The rules of Brexit: Mirror Politics morning briefing – The Government’s Brexit plans could see us fall back on WTO rules. This could be worst of all options“.  On its website the Mirror even provides a link to the Institute for Government’s explanation of WTO Rules:  “Brexit Explained: 10 things to know about the World Trade Organization (WTO)“.


It looks as though the bill will be read a third time in the House of Commons this evening and go to the House of Lords without the protections which would have been desirable and eminently possible if Corbyn had not failed in his duty to provide an effective opposition.






The Witch, Mr Toad and the EU


trump4One of the problems common to Donald Trump (aka Mr Toad) and Teresa May (aka The Wicked Witch of Westminster) and their respective supporters is that both of of our countries are infected with political Nativism,  which the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines as “the political idea that people who were born in a country are more important than immigrants (= people who have come to live in the country from somewhere else).  Wikipedia has a quite extensive article on the political aspects of the phenomenon: Nativism (politics) which may be helpful.

may99It is worth remembering that England has a very long history of political Nativism -certainly going back to the England of Elizabeth I who succeeded to the throne in  1558.  Over time  England exported may of its prejudices to its colonies  including those in North America.  In England,  Nativism even extended to opposition to people coming south from Scotland – “Hadrian built the Roman Wall  to keep the Scottish out.  But he did not build it high enough, or wide enough or thick enough – and look at us today“.  English Nativism extended also to immigration from Ireland. As the Wikipedia article explains, US nativism has its origins in the original 13 British Colonies.

We in England should remember that we exported many things to America  via our colonies in the USA.   We exported our language, although some Americans do now describe it as “Murkin”.   We exported many of our constitutional arrangements and, we exported the common law – including the principle of the separation of powers which means that acts of the executive are subject to judicial review.

Nativisim & Brexit

The Conservative Party has quite a long history of Nativism.  But Commonwealth immigration and racism became issues with for the Conservatives starting with Enoch Powell – see the  Wikipedia: Rivers of Blood speech and thereafter, this anti-immigration stance became very much the feeling of the right wing of the Conservative Party.

may-at-cpc2Teresa May was elected to Parliament in the 1997 General Election and she became Home Secretary in May 2010 and in that year she promised to bring annual net migration down to less than 100,000.   She has never been able to honour that promise.

The latest Migration Statistics for the Year Ending June 2016 were:-

1. All Citizenships 2. British 3. Non-British 4. EU 5. Non-EU
Immigration 650,000 77,000 573,000 284,000 289,000
Emigration 315,000 127,000 188,000 95,000 93,000
Net Migration 335,000 -49,000 385,000 189,000 196,000
  • The UK citizen population is declining by something like 50,000 per year as UK citizens decide to leave the country.
  • In addition, the UK citizen population is ageing and with the passage of time a greater proportion will not not be working and many will need social care.
  • A high proportion of non EU immigrants are either (i) persons who the spouses and other family members of UK citizens  and to refuse them entry would breach the family rights of UK citizens; or (ii) students who leave at the end of their studies; or (iii) persons whose special skills benefit the economy
  • EU nationals are, of course exercising “free movement” rights

In short, the much vaunted aim of limiting annual net migration to 100,000 has never been workable.  It has always been a false promise made as a sop to the Nativists who support the Conservative Party.

The idea of a Referendum on leaving the EU was conceived by David Cameron as a way of stopping Nativists in the Conservative Party defecting to the United Kingdom Independence Party.  It was a bad idea to begin with.  Worse, it was badly implemented.

David Cameron was right to tender his resignation when the result became known. Unfortunately, the fallout has meant that Teresa May is now Prime Minister and, worse, she is in thrall to the Nativists in her party and beyond.

Nativism and Trump

The New Yorker has this: “The Trump Administration’s Dark View of Immigrants“.   It is worth a read.

The executive order that Trump issued on Friday—which barred all refugees and people who hold passports from seven Muslim-majority countries—was said to be about terrorism, but that never was persuasive. The list, it was widely noted, omitted Saudi Arabia, the home of most of the 9/11 attackers; meanwhile, no one from the seven countries included in the order has committed a deadly act of terrorism in the U.S. since 2001. The list includes both Shiite and Sunni countries, those whose governments work in concert with the United States and those that are our avowed enemies. The departments that might have helped to weigh the risk of nationals from different countries, including Homeland Security and State, were not consulted. The order was reportedly written by a young policy adviser to the President, Stephen Miller, and Bannon.

and it picks up on this Washington Post article: ” Trump administration circulates more draft immigration restrictions, focusing on protecting U.S. jobs

It seems increasingly likely that the President’s immigration plans (and much more)  are largely being advocated by Steve Bannon- see this in Time Magazine: “Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?” and also this:  “What Steve Bannon really wants“.

It is looking increasingly likely that the lunatics have taken charge of the US asylum and the rest of the word may be in for some very troubling times.

However, the US Courts appear to be doing their bit.  The Telegraph has this: “Donald Trump travel ban: US appeals court denies justice department’s emergency appeal to restore ‘unconstitutional’ ban“.

The Independent has this editorial: “We are nervously confident Donald Trump cannot break the US Constitution – The President is no respecter of the independence of the US judiciary, but he will not always get his way” which includes this:-

We know enough about Mr Trump to know that he will not be similarly embarrassed into paying even lip-service to the independence of the judiciary in the US. He will no doubt continue his attempt to bully and intimidate judges with his outbursts on social media, violating the spirit of the Constitution.   Yet the US system is strong. If it is being tested, we are nervously confident that it will endure. The US judicial system has been politicised to an alarming degree, and much more than the UK equivalent, despite the explicit separation of powers in the US Constitution, but most US judges will stand up to Mr Trump’s insults.

The Wicked Witch & Mr Toad

ww-westminsterIt is also likely that President Trump’s approach is going to impact on any visit to the UK.  Perhaps unwisely, Mrs May extended an invitation on behalf of Her Majesty that Mr Trump should come on a State Visit to the United Kingdom very early in his presidency.  There is very considerable opposition to the idea.  Some grassroots comments were to be found on a tabloid website:-

Not many countries ever had a head of state prepared to shake hands,for the benefit of their country,with some of the lowest,most vulgar and disgusting lunatics on the face of the earth….and their “escort” appendages.We should all thank Her Majesty with all our hearts for the sacrifices she has made and the indignities she has endured ….not least the impending one.

Trump contaminates everything he touches.  If you let him visit your wonderful country, it will be like a return of hoof-and mouth disease.”

The Telegraph has this: “Thousands march on London in protest against Donald Trump’s travel ban and Theresa May’s invitation to President for UK state visit“.

The Guardian has this: “We will boycott Trump speech, say Labour’s female MPs – Harriet Harman leads call to ‘empty chair’ US president if he is invited to address Parliament on state visit“.

The Guardian also has this: “Two-thirds of Britons believe Trump is ‘threat to international stability’ – Over half surveyed believe US president is untrustworthy and that UK state visit should be cancelled, new poll finds

In addition to the 64% who believe he represents a threat to international stability, the words most commonly associated by Britons with the divisive US president are dangerous (50%), unstable (39%), and bigot (35%). A further 56% believe he is untrustworthy.

Interestingly,  the pro-Republican web site, Real Clear Politics has this: “The President Still Loves Polls“.  It is worth noting that the latest Gallup Poll gives Trump a  6 point Disapproval rating.   One wonders whether Mr Toad will like  his polling figures from the UK.

The respected commentator Janet  Daley has this in the Telegraph: “Britain can’t afford to be seen on Trump’s side – we are defending the indefensible

The European Union – Trump and May

The Financial Times has this: “May’s pledge to bind Trump to Europe wins mixed reception – EU leaders summit in Malta dominated by US president’s chaotic first weeks in power

The Guardian has this: “EU leaders round on Trump and reject May’s bridge-building efforts – Prime ministers and presidents at Malta summit line up to scorn Trump’s conduct, accusing him of lack of respect

The Independent has this: “EU Malta summit: European leaders rebuff Theresa May’s offer to act as ‘bridge to Donald Trump’ – The Prime Minister faces an uphill battle to convince EU leaders she can help them work with a US President who horrifies them“:-

Ms May arrived in the Maltese capital carrying the message from Mr Trump that Europe must increase its defence spending in return for his “100 per cent” commitment to Nato.

 But other EU leaders view the American leader with horror because of his hostility to the EU, his protectionism and controversial policies, such as the travel ban from seven mainly Muslim countries.  

The European parliament’s main political parties have called for Mr Trump’s likely choice as ambassador to the EU to be blocked from its buildings after he said the EU needed “taming”. 

And, earlier this week, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, included the US President as a “threat” facing the bloc, along with China, Russia and radical Islam.

trumpvstoadAll in all, Mrs May seems to have been rebuffed in her attempt to position the UK as an interlocutor between the EU and the USA.

The Wicked Witch of Westminster is seen as being far too close to Mr Toad.




Mrs May’s Brexit Bill

Brexit Article 50 Bill – First Reading

ww-westminsterAs now required by the decision of the Supreme Court, Mrs May, (aka the Wicked Witch of Westminster, has caused the Secretary of State for Brexit to introduce the Brexit Bill.  The Telegraph has this: “Brexit vote: Boris Johnson says ‘history has been made’ after MPs pass Bill to trigger Article 50 by 498 votes to 114

Boris3Well, one always expects Clown Boris to say something stupid whenever he opens his mouth – and this is no exception.  A Bill does not become law until it is given the Royal Assent and yesterday’s vote was merely the beginning of the process in the House of Commons.   It will be interesting to see what happens to the Bill during the Committee stage in the Commons and its various stages in the House of Lords.  The interest in this preliminary step is that 50 SNP, 47 Labour and 7 Liberal MPs voted against.  The size of the Labour vote against shows that many disregarded the Leadership line.

The Guardian has this “The full list of MPs who voted against the Brexit bill” – Congratulations and thanks to each of them.   The Guardian also has this op-ed by Polly Toynbee: “Ken Clarke was magnificent, defying the Brexit zealots – He spent 50 years hauling Britain into the modern world. Yesterday, in a speech that will echo down the years, he raged against the dying of the European light“.  The article has an embedded video of the speech.  It is to be hoped that other Tories will be inspired by it to take a more sensible approach to the Committee stages of the bill.

The Times has this: “May faces Tory revolt after MPs back Brexit – EU citizens must have right to stay, PM is told“.  Let us hope this is true

Brexit Budget Bomb

The Financial Times has this: “Brexit ‘bomb’ threatens EU budget plans, former UK envoy warns – Sir Ivan Rogers says money will dominate early talks but may provide lever for May

The EU believes that Brexit has “exploded a bomb” under its budget and will dig its heels in to claim an exit bill of between €40bn and €60bn, Britain’s former ambassador to the EU has warned“.

The full article makes interesting reading and it is probably a very great shame that this vastly experienced figure has felt he had no alternative but to resign.

The Continuing Trump Problem

trump4The UK Petition to Parliament against a state visit by Donald Trump has now reached 1,820,590 signatures and new electors are signing up at a rate of 1,000 per hour. There is to be a debate on the petition on 20th February. The Guardian has this on its letters page: “We stand together against Donald Trump’s toxic agenda” –

We are dismayed and shocked by the attempt of the British government to normalise Trump’s agenda. People in Britain never voted for this. It is our duty as citizens to speak out. We oppose this state visit to the UK and commit ourselves to one of the biggest demonstrations in British history, to make very clear to our government, and to the world, that this is not in our name.

There follows a large number of signatures.  There is so much public dislike of Trump that the prospect of a visit raises very real security concerns.  One wonders what the Metropolitan Police (not to mention the the US agents whose task is to protect the President) are thinking:-

Which is more secure: Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace?  How about the Castle of May in Caithness – That’s far from the madding crowds and the President has Scottish connections? –    Helicopter arrivals?  No horse drawn processions – Who has to be invited? Extreme Vetting of Guests?  Where do we corral the Protesters? No fly Zones?

The grounds of the petition include this:  “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”

While I sympathise with the person who put the petition process to work, I think it is fair to point out that in the course of her reign Her Majesty has some experience of welcoming people one might not really wish to meet.  look at the List of State Visits on Wikipedia.  There have been 109 such visits since Her Majesty’s accession to the throne.  Some of the previous visitors have been pretty dreadful people.

If anything, if the visit is to proceed at this time, then the person most embarrassed may well be Mr Trump.