While UK broadcasters are bound by strict impartiality rules that see them back off from political campaign coverage on polling day, it’s still all to play for as far as newspapers are concerned.//By Freddy MayhewTwitter
‘Clowning Street’: UK election day newspaper round-up
British voters woke this morning to a rash of headlines telling them who to vote for before visiting the ballot box.
‘The people of this country will have to choose’: Johnson vows to push for snap election as opposition MPs seek Brexit delay///CRIMSON TAZVINZWA
Another vote is due to be held on Monday, after Boris Johnson’s visit to Farmleigh House, Dublin.
OPPOSITION PARTIES IN the UK have agreed to block Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s request for a snap general election until a no-deal Brexit has been prevented.
Johnson is to table a second motion to dissolve parliament on Monday, after a vote on Wednesday failed to reach the required two-thirds majority (298 ayes to 56 noes).
Yesterday Johnson said yet againthat he didn’t want an election: “… But frankly I don’t see any other way. It’s the only way to get this thing moving.”
“Boris Johnson is on the run,” Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts told Sky News.
“As parliamentarians whose priority is to stop a no-deal Brexit, our job is to make sure the Act [to stop a no-deal Brexit] – which is to be granted royal assent today or over the weekend – is put into effect and that we remain here as parliamentarians to make sure that the Prime Minister does his duty by the law.”
The Labour Party, which has wavered over whether to back a snap election, a will not back Johnson’s bid for an election, according to Reuters News and the BBC.
Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said that an early election is “a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ – but Johnson mustn’t be allowed to dictate the timing as a device to avoid scrutiny and force through a ‘no deal’ Brexit”.
The SNP relishes the prospect of an election. But while our party interest might be served by voting for an election now, it is in the wider public interest to deny a PM threatening to defy the law any ability to cut and run in his own interests. We’ll act in the public interest.
Layla Moran of the Liberal Democrats said that she’s not convinced that a general election would “solve anything”. “If you really want Brexit stop, you take it back to the people with the option to Remain and you vote to remain in the EU.”
A Conservative Group for Europe carried out a 10,000-people strong poll of British voters indicated that a snap election would produce another hung parliament:
The results indicated that the Conservatives would secure 311 seats (-6); Labour would win 242 (-20); the Liberal Democrats would increase their take to 21 (+9); the Scottish National Party would go up to 52 (+17); Plaid Cymru would get 4 MPs (no change); the Green Party would get 1 seat (no change); and one more would go to ‘others’.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and American President Donald Trumpare facing 21st century political variants of Waterloo, the monumental battle that Wellington won and Napoleon lost. For Johnson, it is Brexit. For Trump, it is impeachment. Both are virtually inevitable.
Johnson’s first week in office has certainly set his government on a course for leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without an agreement. His Cabinet has been selected for this journey that many in Britain believe is a kamikaze mission.
Johnson does, however, have three options. The first is to leave the EU, as he says, “come hell or high water.” The second is to do a Boris and true to his prior history cynically reverse course dusting off the flawed agreement negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May, adding a few “dealmakers,” declaring victory and leaving with a document he could claim as an earlier prime minister did of bringing “peace in our time.”
Or, Johnson could take a hugely risky gamble and call a “snap election.” If Johnson won a majority or a coalition he could command, Brexit on Oct. 31 would be guaranteed. Suggesting this option is the appointment of a campaign team in No. 10 headed by senior adviser Dominic Cummings, the architect of Brexit and called a “professional psychopath” by former Prime Minister David Cameron. If Johnson loses, oh dear.
Johnson has no other choices in the 90-plus days until Oct. 31. While Brexit remains the most pressing issue confronting Johnson, the Persian Gulf and Iranian seizure of two British-flagged tankers several weeks ago could be explosive. Given the decline of the British military and a Royal Navy lacking enough “gunboats” to conduct gunboat diplomacy, a crisis with Iran is the last thing the new government needs. And no doubt, other unpredictable issues and events will intervene, including how the prime minister controls his mercurial personality.
While Trump called last week’s testimony of special counsel Robert Muellervindicating and exonerating, because the Democrats will soon have no alternative, impeachment could dominate his remaining time in office. The reason is that impeachment will be the Democrats’ only chance to bring down Trump because it is the only means of producing sufficient evidence and proof of wrongdoing. The hearings of former Trump attorney Michael Cohenand Mueller changed no one’s minds about presidential “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The White House has narrowed congressional options by refusing to provide records and data subpoenaed by the House, including Trump’s tax returns, in direct violation of the law. Hence, over the summer, Democrats ambivalent over impeachment proceedings because of not securing a Senate conviction, are likely to conclude that the only way of uncovering relevant facts is through these hearings. They are correct. Any White House would be unhelpful in providing potentially damaging material such as the Watergate tapes. And Trump believes that because the Senate would never convict him, acquittal would rebound against Democrats and ensure his re-election.
Comparisons with Watergate and a Republican Senate that would have convicted President Richard Nixon if impeached are misplaced. For one, who are today’s Sens. Howard Baker (“What did the president know and when did he know it?”) and Sam Ervin? And no equivalent to the Vietnam War has so shaken the trust of the American public in government to oust a sitting president without unimpeachable proof of a serious crime.
The two greatest democracies of the 20th century have become so incapacitated in the 21st. Perhaps Johnson will emulate Wellington and win the Waterloo battle over Brexit. Yet, no one at No. 10 seems to have thought through the consequences of what happens on Nov. 1 if Britain exits with a hard landing and how it will deal with the EU on the unresolved and potentially unresolvable trade, financial, business and legal issues.
If Trump believes impeachment will be his Waterloo, he may get his wish. But if the trial uncovers truly damaging evidence and proof of wrongdoing, even if the Senate refuses to convict on partisan lines, the victory will be Pyrrhic. And while the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel opinion is that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, the debate over Trump’s future and what happens when he leaves office will dominate politics.
Impeachment hearings could also uncover no new “smoking guns” that, while not fully exonerating, surely will acquit the president, support his re-election and possibly place the House under Republican hands. But no matter how Brexit and impeachment turn out, the future for the United Kingdom and the United States will surely be decidedly more chaotic, corrosive and grim.
Harlan Ullman is a senior adviser at the Atlantic Council. His latest book is “Anatomy of Failure: Why America Has Lost Every War It Starts.” Follow him@harlankullman.
Erdogan Just Suffered a Humiliating Defeat. And Thanks to Istanbul, Turkey’s Democracy Just Won a Famous Victory//CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//
Denied his first victory in Istanbul’s mayoral elections on dubious grounds, Imamoglu has now won by a far larger margin of victory. He’s humbled Erdogan big time – and offered new hope for Turkey’s embattled democrats.
ISTANBUL – “You protected the reputation of Turkish democracy in front of the whole world. You protected our tradition of democracy, one that has existed for more than a hundred years.”
Ekrem Imamoglu addressing Istanbul voters in his victory speech on 23 June 2019
The verdict is in: anti-Erdogan candidate Ekrem Imamoglu has won again – and this time round, he’s done it big time.
His opponent, the AKP’s Binali Yildirim conceded defeat just two hours after polling stations closed. With 99.2% of the vote in, Imamoglu has a nine-point lead over Yildirim – a margin of victory of 800,000 votes.
The vote came on the heels of a landmark court decision in the United Kingdom resulting in an immediate suspension of new licenses for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and of the release of a damning UN report, earlier in the week, from the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, detailing the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a US resident and Washington Post journalist who was killed in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Callamard said that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation of senior Saudi officials, including the Saudi Crown Prince himself. It’s been a cascade of bad news for Muhammed bin Salman this week and a positive step forward for human rights and accountability.
Human Rights Watch has documented scores of abuses, including apparent war crimes, by the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen, and has repeatedly demanded justice for Khashoggi’s murder. Despite targeted US sanctions on 17 individuals, the Saudis have proceeded with almost total impunity – on both Khashoggi’s death and on the abuses in Yemen. And despite these apparent crimes, the Trump administration has continued to sell the Saudis billions of dollars in weapons.
But the tide is starting to turn in Congress now. In recent months, Congress has introduced a flurry of resolutions and bills in response to both Khashoggi’s murder and Saudi’s destructive campaign in Yemen, as well as to broader human rights concerns domestically – including the detention and torture of women’s rights activists, detained merely for their rights advocacy.
The White House has made clear that if the Senate resolution reaches the president’s desk, as it likely will, Trump will veto it. Congress should keep up the pressure to ensure a more principled approach towards Saudi Arabia.