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Bumbling Boris: Does Brexit really mean ‘Brexit’?

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ACCUSED: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has reportedly told a number of high-ranking diplomats that he supports freedom of movement

ACCUSED: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has reportedly told a number of high-ranking diplomats that he supports freedom of movement

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been accused of telling at least four EU ambassadors that he supports freedom of movement, despite campaigning against the policy during the EU referendum.

The leading ‘Leave’ campaigner had previously written to then Prime Minister, David Cameron, saying: “We are particularly concerned about the impact of free movement in the future on public services.

“Class sizes will rise and waiting lists will lengthen if we don't tackle free movement.”

However, despite the message, the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has now told a number of high-ranking diplomats that he

Speaking under Chatham House rule, which enables comments to be reported but not directly attributed, one ambassador told reporters: “[Boris Johnson] told us he was personally in favour of it, but he said that Britain had been more affected by free movement of people than other EU member states.”

Another added: “He did say he was personally in favour of free movement, as it corresponds to his own beliefs. But he said it wasn't government policy.”

Following the reports, a spokesman for the Foreign Secretary said there was no evidence that Mr Johnson had made such remarks.

“Boris said what he has said many times before - he is pro-immigration but wants to take back control to limit numbers,” the spokesman said.

“He did not say he supported freedom of movement and challenges anyone to show proof that he ever said that.”

Critics of the Foreign Secretary have highlighted their disapproval of the alleged comments, with Liberal Democrat EU spokesman, Nick Clegg, accusing Mr Johnson of ‘treating the voters like fools’.

The comments are also contradictory to the government’s standpoint following the Brexit vote, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying that controlling immigration is a priority in the EU exit negotiations.

At the Conservative Party Conference in October, she said: “We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully independent, sovereign country. We will do what independent, sovereign countries do - decide for ourselves how we control immigration.”

The European Parliament describes the freedom of movement in the EU as the ‘cornerstone of Union membership’.

With a deadline set for the end of March 2017 for the triggering of Article 50 – which begins the official Brexit negotiations, the government have vowed to reach a deal which will cap immigration figures into the UK.

UK votes to LEAVE: Cameron resigns as Britain prepares for EU exit

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GONE WITH THE WIND: After over 40 years of membership, Britain has voted to leave the EU

GONE WITH THE WIND: After over 40 years of membership, Britain has voted to leave the EU

The UK will leave the European Union and David Cameron will resign as Prime Minister.

This is the breaking news that Brits woke up to on Friday 24th June as the face of the EU changed forever.

After months of debate, threats from both ends of the political spectrum and some often misleading propaganda, the British public voted in favour of exiting the 28-nation bloc by 17,410,242 (51.9 per cent) to 16,141,241 (48.1 per cent).

It was the highest turnout for a vote in the country for almost 25 years, as 72.2 per cent of the nation’s eligible voters had their say on whether to continue the EU membership. In comparison, last year’s general election witnessed just a 66.1 per cent turnout.

Cameron resigns

The announcement at around 8.30am outside the steps of 10 Downing Street came as little surprise to many in the political world as David Cameron announced his intentions to resign as Prime Minister.

Describing his patriotism for the country, as well as his desire to see the Leave campaign ultimately succeed, he said: “I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.

RESIGNATION: David Cameron will resign as Prime Minister of the UK following the county’s decision to leave the EU

RESIGNATION: David Cameron will resign as Prime Minister of the UK following the county’s decision to leave the EU

“This is not a decision I've taken lightly but I do believe it's in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.

“There is no need for a precise timetable today but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October.”

Cameron will continue in his post momentarily but also confirmed that he believes a new leader in the UK should be in place by October this year.

He added: “I said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union and indeed that we could find a way.

“Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way and I will do everything I can to help. I love this country and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.”

Pound slumps in global markets

The pound fell more than 10 per cent against the dollar following the confirmation of the victorious ‘Leave’ vote – the biggest one-day fall in history.

Not since 1985 have the pound-to-dollar levels been so low, with Chancellor George Osborne describing the situation as a ‘DIY recession’.

It had earlier been acknowledged by some in the ‘Leave camp’ that a ‘blip’ might be initially seen in the currency markets yet such a fall still came as a surprise.

TEAM LEAVE: Nigel Farage celebrated the decision, labelling it Britain’s ‘Independence Day’

TEAM LEAVE: Nigel Farage celebrated the decision, labelling it Britain’s ‘Independence Day’

The dramatic result also reportedly wiped an estimated £122 billion of the value of the FTSE 100 within minutes.

Bank governor Mark Carney said in a statement on behalf of the Bank of England: “Inevitably, there will be a period of uncertainty and adjustment following this result.

“There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

“And it will take some time for the United Kingdom to establish new relationships with Europe and the rest of the world.

“Some market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds.”

Europe’s response

There is no denying that the UK’s eventual exit from the EU is the biggest crisis the organisation has had to face in its 59-year history.

Will other nations now hold their own referendums and what will the UK’s working relationship be like with the remaining members? These are the questions we will have to wait to find out the answers for.

HEAD CAMPAIGNER: Boris Johnson said the public had voted to ‘take back control’

HEAD CAMPAIGNER: Boris Johnson said the public had voted to ‘take back control’

In the meantime, reaction from leaders around the world remains mixed. Angela Merkel’s close ally, Manfred Weber - a senior German conservative MEP – said ‘no special treatment’ can be given to the UK.

He said in four tweets: “We respect and regret the decision of the British voters. It causes major damage to both sides.

“This was a British vote, not a European vote. Co-operation within Europe is a question of self-assertion of the continent.

“We want a better and smarter Europe. We have to convince the people and bring Europe back to them.

“Exit negotiations should be concluded within two years at max. There cannot be any special treatment. Leave means leave.”

Elsewhere, the Dutch anti-immigration leader, Geert Wilders, saw the UK’s vote as a catalyst for other nations to hold their own referendums.

“We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

Polls and opinions in Sweden, France and Italy also suggest other nations are worried about a weakened EU due to the Brexit.

How the UK voted

52 per cent of the country voted for an EU exit.

In Scotland, all 32 local authority areas voted in favour of remaining in the EU, with 62 per cent opting against leaving.

Questions will now be raised as to whether another Scottish Independence referendum is needed as the voice of the people north of the border seemingly went unheard.

55 per cent of people in Northern Ireland also voted to remain members of the EU, whilst the Leave voters were victorious in Wales with 51.9 per cent.

When looking at the different regions in England, a clear north-south divide can be seen.

In Yorkshire, the North East, North West, West Midlands and East Midlands, the ‘Leave’ campaign triumphed. Meanwhile, in the metropolitan capital of London, 59.9 per cent voted ‘Remain’.

What happens next?

The UK, in many ways, is heading into unchartered territory.

Only Greenland has ever left the EU previously - in 1985 - yet the UK’s power and presence in the political union is much more substantial.

Firstly, the decision of when to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon has to be made. In Lehman’s terms this means the beginning of the formal and legal process of the UK leaving the EU.

There is a two-year deadline in place meaning the Prime Minister of the day, whoever that may be, has limited time to negotiate new trade deals with the EU before the nation ceases to remain a member.

The UK may revert back to trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules, according to some Remain campaigners, which would result in exporters being hit with import taxes and tariffs.

EU referendum: Debate affects 8 million of BME people in the UK

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IMPORTANT ISSUE: Dr Mohammed Ali OBE says the question about whether the UK should stay in the EU is an essential political debate for BME communities

IMPORTANT ISSUE: Dr Mohammed Ali OBE says the question about whether the UK should stay in the EU is an essential political debate for BME communities

Ethnic minority vote is key to EU referendum

A national charity, based in Bradford, says that black and ethnic minority communities could decide the EU referendum but only if they turn out to vote.

Chief executive of QED-uk, Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, said: “The debate about whether or not to stay in Europe concerns many of the most important political issues of our time.

“It affects every one of the 8 million people of ethnic minority origin in the UK.

“Many of them are likely to have very different opinions from their white neighbours but we are concerned that they are less likely to register to vote.”

QED Foundation works to promote the social and economic advancement of disadvantaged communities with a particular emphasis on ethnic minority groups.

It urges everyone to find out more about the issues involved in EU membership, such as talking to people who are for and against it so that a decision can be reached and a vote casted in the forthcoming referendum.

The United Kingdom has very different demographics to other European countries, which could affect our attitudes to EU membership.

For example, we have the largest Pakistani population outside the Middle East at over 1.5m, while many nations have less than 1,000.

A 2015 Ipsos Mori report showed that more than half of white Britons saw immigration as a top concern, while less than one third of ethnic minorities shared this viewpoint.

However, they are often affected by related policies and should be included in the debate according to a December 2015 report by the race equality think tank Runnymede Trust.

For example, EU membership might result in immigration restrictions focusing on other countries.

Although people from black and ethnic minority communities are less likely to take advantage of free movement, the Runnymede Trust report says that they  may be pro-Europe because they believe it will offer more protection from discrimination.

They may also be affected by wider implications of EU membership such as the possible effects on trade and investment, competition for resources and legislation.

For more information contact Dr Mohammed Ali OBE on 0300 500 1000, email m.ali@qed-uk.org or visit www.qed-uk.org