Last week we saw quite a bit of movement on the issue of Brexit, after what appeared to be deadlock came a flurry of announcements of progress being made in many different areas.
Firstly we found out that, for the first time since their introduction in 2014 all of the major banks passed stress tests which pitted their balance sheets against two dire economic scenarios. This led the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to say that the banks could survive a ‘disorderly Brexit’.
The changes announced in Wednesday’s budget are likely to improve the often awful first weeks of a Universal Credit claim. The problem is that, rather than address the core flaws in the benefit’s design, they patch it over. The announcement is not so much a step in the right direction as making the wrong direction more tolerable.
“Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a new approach” was a remarkable event organised by the Balfour Project at Central Hall Westminster. It was remarkable not only in terms of the list of prominent speakers but, even more, for the sober way in which it meticulously exposed British history in Palestine. It was described as an opportunity for reflection and it delivered well in this respect. Reflection ought to lead to action and one particular action (below) was referred to again and again.
It is difficult to escape the feeling that we are living in changing times.
Politically speaking, change is the order of the day at local, national and international levels.
Elections have yielded some rather unexpected results. We have seen the successes of rank outsiders such as Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron, and the surprise last minute surges in support for the Labour Party in the UK and New Zealand.
Revd Daniel Woodhouse, a Methodist Minister, and Sam Walton who works with the Quakers in Britain have today been found not guilty by District Judge James Clarke. Daniel and Sam, armed with a hammer, attempted to reach aircraft that were bound for Saudi Arabia when they were apprehended at BAE Warton in January 2017.
Over the past two years thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen as a direct result of the targeting policies of the war planes of the Saudi Arabian led coalition that continue to attack civilian areas.
Universal Credit will be debated in Parliament today and the JPIT churches have sent a briefing to every MP outlining our concerns. The briefing outlines some of the key problems but the central message is simple: Universal Credit’s processes suit the lives of the relatively well-off, the people who designed it, but fails to take into account the lives of real people struggling against poverty.
At Prime Minister’s Questions Theresa May defended the roll out of Universal Credit by saying that the new benefit gets more people into work. Since July the Government has used the phrase, “[with] Universal Credit people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system”, time and time again.
While it is true, as with many DWP statements, it is seriously misleading without the proper context.
As the Conservative Party conference rumbled on this week the European Parliament was discussing the future of the Brexit negotiations. The European Parliament voted to urge the EU not to open the next phase of Brexit talks until a ‘major breakthrough’ had been made in the current negotiations. This is only an advisory vote as the European Parliament is not involved in the negotiations between the EU and the UK, it only votes on the final deal. However, it is likely that the European Council, when it meets later this month, will agree with the European Parliament and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator that not enough progress has been made and therefore the Brexit negotiations cannot move forward to the talks about trade that the UK has been lobbying for.