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Amnesty International UK

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL|15-year-old Daniel didn’t even know he wasn’t British until he was denied the chance to join his friends on a school trip.

15-year-old Daniel didn’t even know he wasn’t British until he was denied the chance to join his friends on a school trip.

Daniel has a right to apply for citizenship – but only if he pays the Home Office £1,012. If he can’t, he may not be able to work, study or even get hospital treatment. 

And he isn’t alone. 

Thousands of children born in the UK are growing up without the British citizenship they are entitled to by law. This is a national scandal which has long gone largely unnoticed. Could that be about to change?

Profit from citizenship

Last month, Sajid Javid gave evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee about the #WindrushScandal. Although the Home Secretary once again claimed there was no systemic problem at the Home Office, MPs refused to limit their questions to concerns about the Windrush generation.

Conservative and SNP members of the Committee asked about the fee for children to register as British citizens. In response, the Home Secretary described the fee as “a huge amount of money” to ask children to pay for citizenship.

Even so, Sajid Javid’s department is demanding £1,012 from children to register as British citizens – a status they are already entitled to. Most of this fee (£640) is profit over over administrative cost to the Home Office.

Priced out of their rights

This is a scandal with stark equivalence to the #WindrushScandal. It too concerns people who have been settled in this country for a long time yet face exclusion from social rights and opportunities and even from their home country. 

Calling for family reunion rights for child refugees outside the Home Office

Calling for family reunion rights for child refugees outside the Home Office © Imran Uppal

The Home Secretary’s admission (and apparent shock) that this fee is a huge amount to ask a child to pay tells only half the story.

Among the children charged £1,012 to register as British citizens are thousands that were born in the UK, grew up here, have never even visited another country.

Children born in the UK are only born British if, at the time of their birth, one of their parents is British or settled here. 
When passing the British Nationality Act 1981, Parliament recognised that many of these children will nonetheless be as connected to the UK as any of their peers. That is why the Act includes provisions to guarantee these children’s rights to the citizenship of their country of birth and country of origin.

Many other children, who’ve lived here since they were very young and whose futures clearly lie in the UK are eligible to be registered too. They face the same fee. As do several children in local authority care.

Selling children their rights

When the Act came into force on 1 January 1983, it cost a child £35 to register as British. This represented the administrative cost to the Home Office of registration. But in 2007, the Home Office began charging extra.

The Home Office claims the current fee is justified on the basis of the value of citizenship to the child. But, these children are already legally entitled to British citizenship and all its benefits . By charging more than the administrative cost, the Home Office is not only pricing children out of their citizenship, it is effectively selling them something they are already entitled to.

Support to end this scandal

Members of Parliament, led by Stuart McDonald, have tabled an Early Day Motion to raise awareness and call for an end to the Home Office profiteering from children’s right to citizenship. This already has cross-party support from Conservative, DUP, Green, Independent, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and SNP parties.

MPs are recognising that preventing children from registering as British citizens leaves them exposed to the same injustices faced by the Windrush generation. People like Elwaldo RomeoSarah O’Connor and Anthony Bryanwere refused employment or healthcare, were detained and even faced removal from the country.

And it’s not just one generation who are affected. Many children unable to register as British, are then unable to pass on that citizenship. Their children, and their children’s children, while entitled to register as British, will face having to pay the same huge fee.

Growing pressure

In recent weeks, the SNP, Labour Party, London Mayor and a House of Lords select committee on citizenship and civic engagement have each expressed their opposition to this huge fee.
Last summer, the Church of England’s General Synod unanimously voted to raise concerns about the fee with government and parliament. At the end of the year, Citizens UK together with scores of children added their voice to these demands.

This is a national scandal every bit as unjust and far-reaching as the Windrush scandal – and now is the time to act.
MPs are urged to sign EDM 1262 and take steps to end the injustice of Home Office money-making from children’s citizenship rights.

More information is available from the website of the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens.

BREXIT: ‘A Car Crash’ Or Birth of British Posterity

SIENNA RODGERS, LABOURLIST|AIWA! NO!|Labour has tabled an amendment to the meaningful vote that blocks parliament from approving either Theresa May’s current Brexit deal or a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May are set to battle it out for business leaders over Brexit. Mr Corbyn and the Prime Minister will be making rival speeches to woo business leaders on Monday at the annual CBI conference. Mrs May and the opposition leader will both pitch for industry backing for their opposing Brexit visions, after a chaotic week in UK politics.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May are set to battle it out for business leaders over Brexit. Mr Corbyn and the Prime Minister will be making rival speeches to woo business leaders on Monday at the annual CBI conference. Mrs May and the opposition leader will both pitch for industry backing for their opposing Brexit visions, after a chaotic week in UK politics.

The deal now on offer fails Keir Starmer’s six tests, it effectively says, as its ambitions for a future UK-EU relationship do not include a permanent customs union or a strong single market deal, would diminish security, includes a backstop, etc etc. Rejecting both the “worst of all worlds deal” and the “chaos” that would ensue from “crashing out without a deal”, in Jeremy Corbyn’s words, this is simply setting out the essentials of Labour’s Brexit position.

The most interesting part of the amendment is the following: it commits parliament to “every option” that prevents this deal or no deal. Again, this can be interpreted as a simple reiteration of Labour policy, but it goes further than resolving to “keep all options on the table”, as frontbenchers oft repeat and the conference composite motion stipulates. Every option presumably includes: a general election, extending Article 50, a fresh referendum, even revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU without a public vote.

It is notable that not a single one of these options is explicitly mentioned in the amendment – not even the least controversial alternative for opposition parties, a general election. This is entirely sensible: the aim is to win as much support as possible. MPs such as, er, Corbyn himself, may not be comfortable with voting for something that openly backs a ‘people’s vote’, for instance. Of course, this is a wrecking amendment rather than a serious bit of legislative work, and Labour will whip against the motion as a whole, so the objective is only to show strength against the government.

Today on LabourList, I’ve put together a (sourced) list of Labour MPs who are on the record as supporters of another EU referendum. (If your name should be on the list but isn’t yet, please get in touch.) So far, it amounts to 62, i.e. a quarter of the parliamentary party. These numbers are crucial to understanding Labour’s position on the ‘people’s vote’ issue. Journalists got very excited yesterday when John McDonnell said that if Labour’s no-confidence vote falls, as expected, the party would call on the government to “join us in a public vote”. But in reality, not only is the leader resistant to the idea, it doesn’t look as if a ‘people’s vote’ motion would pass.

Last night, the DUP voted with the government to defeat a Labour amendment on the Offensive Weapons Bill. It’s a reminder that, although they’re set to vote against the Brexit deal, the DUP remains the government’s confidence-and-supply partner. The New Statesman has found that “even to overcome Labour’s EEA rebels, you would need 21 Conservative MPs to vote for another referendum”. And just nine Tories have declared their support for a public vote so far.

Sienna @siennamarla

BRITISH PRIME Minister May Says The DUP Says ‘The Confidence & Supply Agreement’ Remains In Place

British Prime Minister Theresa May: "Where is DUP on Confidence And Supply Agreement?"
British Prime Minister Theresa May: “Where is DUP on Confidence And Supply Agreement?”

DUP will ‘review’ confidence and supply agreement if Theresa May’s Brexit deal passes parliament

|AIWA! NO!|DUP leader Arlene Foster has said her party will “review” the confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative Party if Theresa May’s Brexit deal passes parliament.

DUP Leader 
Arlene Foster, appearing on The Andrew Marr Show the day after the DUP conference in Belfast
DUP Leader 
Arlene Foster, appearing on The Andrew Marr Show the day after the DUP conference in Belfast

Mrs Foster, appearing on The Andrew Marr Show the day after the DUP conference in Belfast, said there were no circumstances under which her party would support the current deal.

“There is very much a border down the Irish Sea as a result of this and that’s way we can’t support this deal,” she said.

The MLA said the DUP’s confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives remained “live” but again warned her party would “review” the arrangement if the Brexit deal gained parliamentary support, but she stopped short of saying she would definitely end the relationship with the Tories in those circumstances.

“We have to see where we are when that vote is taken,” she said.

Asked if she would support the Prime Minister if a parliamentary defeat triggered a confidence vote in the Government, Mrs Foster added: “We will have to see what happens at that time. I think this last couple of weeks should tell all of us that you shouldn’t jump ahead of ourselves.

BREXIT – Signed And Sealed; What Next For United Kingdom?

It’s signed and sealed, but can Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal be delivered?
Yesterday’s EU Council summit approved the withdrawal agreement and political declaration, and the Prime Minister will return to the Commons this afternoon to provide an update. Before that, cabinet members will get their own briefing on how to sell the deal in media appearances. They have just over two weeks, as it would appear we now have a date for the big vote – Wednesday 12th December.

EU leaders have sent a clear message for Britain: this is the only deal you’re going to get. This is “the best possible deal”, Jean-Claude Juncker said. “I’m never changing my mind… If the House would say no, we would have no deal.” Of course, they would say that – they’re trying to help May sell it to MPs. Despite their best efforts, termed Project Fear 2.0 by Brexiteers, parliament still looks resolutely unconvinced. Even the most prudent list puts the number of Tory rebels at 88, while others have estimated 94.

Over the weekend, the likelihood of the deal passing dropped further. Arlene Foster confirmed to Andrew Marr that the DUP would under no circumstances be voting for it, while Lisa Nandy described voting in favour as “inconceivable”. The backbench Labour MP, who had been open to supporting the deal until recently, said the problem was not the withdrawal agreement but the political declaration, reminding us that this divorce deal is just the beginning – the toughest negotiations are about the UK and EU’s future dealings.  Gareth Snell, another Labour MP who represents a Leave seat and could’ve been wooed by the government, writes today for LabourList with his thoughts on the deal. “I can’t support a deal that fails to meet the expectations of the referendum, and I’m confident it will be voted down,” Snell writes. But he acknowledges that what happens next is a mystery, so “MPs from all sides of the debate are taking a huge gamble” by rejecting it.Keir Starmer has come out in favour of a possible alternative: extending the Article 50 deadline. The Shadow Brexit Secretary reckons the government and EU, contrary to their claims, would allow the exit date to be pushed back in order to renegotiate.

This is how Labour plans to avoid both May’s deal and no deal.

Of course, extension is the precise opposite of what is wanted by BOBs (that’s people who are Bored of Brexit, as popularised by Jeremy Hunton on Andrew Marr Show yesterday).

Concluding that the British public want politicians to “get on with it” is hardly a wild observation, so some might question the political savviness of Labour’s support for prolonging the process.These issues and others could come to a head on TV.

Following reports May would like to challenge Jeremy Corbyn to a debate, the Labour leader said he would “relish” the opportunity.

We can only laugh when remembering that the PM turned down TV debates last year, saying Corbyn “ought to be paying a little more attention to thinking about Brexit negotiations”.Sienna @siennamarla

FORMER FOREIGN Secretary Boris Johnson Warns: Britain on verge of historic blunder

Former foreign secretary delivers provocative speech in Belfast in bid to woo Arlene Foster’s party

By Rory CarrollMichael Savageand Toby Helm

|The Guardian|AIWA! NO!|Boris Johnson warned on Saturday that Britain was “on the verge of making a historic mistake”, as Theresa May arrived in Brussels to sign a Brexit deal that cabinet ministers believe will soon be blocked by parliament.

The prime minister is expected to approve the deal on Sunday despite growing certainty among allies and critics alike that she has insufficient support among MPs. She also faces a threat from the DUP, the Northern Irish party propping up her government, which could pull the plug on its support unless there is a rethink of a deal that it has branded “pitiful and pathetic”.

On Saturday, as he sought to steel DUP resistance to the deal and to parry Downing Street’s attempt to woo the party’s 10 Westminster MPs, Johnson delivered a provocative address at the party’s conference in Belfast, filled with eclectic references ranging from bendy buses to Star Wars, Van Morrison, former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and the Titanic.

“If you read the withdrawal agreement, you can see that we are witnessing the birth of a new country called UK(NI) or Ukni,” the former foreign secretary said. “Ukni is no longer exclusively ruled by London or Stormont. Ukni is in large part to be ruled by Brussels.”

Boris bedazzles DUP with Brexit balm on a cold Belfast night

Insisting that another attempt should be made to draw up a deal, Johnson said the UK should withhold half of the £39bn divorce settlement with the EU until a free-trade agreement was agreed by the end of 2020. He also said that the so-called backstop, a measure intended to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, would cleave Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom.

“We need to junk the backstop,” he said. Johnson also repeated his call for a bridge to be built between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The criticism of May’s deal did not stop there. Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, called the deal “pitiful and pathetic”.

In her keynote address, DUP leader Arlene Foster said the prime minister was “genuine” in not wanting to harm the union. However, she reiterated the party’s opposition. “We could not support proposals that would open the possibility of divergence in either customs or regulatory measures between Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” she said.

Opposition to the Brexit proposals is also building within May’s cabinet. The Observer understands that serving ministers are already planning to try again to demand changes to the deal once it is voted down by the Commons, in a vote expected next month.

Arlene Foster speaking during the DUP annual conference.
 Arlene Foster speaking during the DUP annual conference. Photograph: Michael Cooper/PA

Scores of Tory MPs are still vowing to vote against the deal, despite desperate attempts by No 10 to convince them that it is the best and only agreement Britain will be offered.Advertisement

UK – Tories pull votes avoiding embarrassing defeat as DUP go ‘on strike’ over Brexit

Theresa May, with DUP leader Arlene Foster (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

|AIWA! NO!|The hardline Northern Irish party are effectively ‘on strike’, tearing up their voting deal with the Government and vowing to abstain on Budget votes for a second day running.

It leaves Theresa May seven votes short of an effective majority in the House of Commons and vulnerable to defeats if only a few Tory rebels abstain or side with the opposition.

DUP sources tonight told the Mirror their Westminster MPs planned to continue abstaining in votes on the Finance Bill in protest over Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

The hardline Northern Irish party had promised to vote with the Government on key legislation, in a pact worth £1 billion after the PM lost her majority at last year’s election.

The party, led by Arlene Foster, are opposed to Mrs May’s draft Brexit deal, which they say creates a ‘border’ down the Irish Sea.

The DUP’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds urged Mrs May to “work towards a better deal” for the good of the Union.

He said: “The Government will require DUP support to deliver its domestic agenda. We will continue to use our influence for the good of everyone across the United Kingdom.”

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said Mrs May’s government had “torn up” promises made over Brexit, and the party “had to do something to show our displeasure.”

Mr Dodds said that the agreement with Conservatives committed the DUP to pursue the shared objectives of strengthening the Union and seeking a Brexit that benefits all parts of the UK.

Theresa May refuses to renegotiate Brexit deal despite fierce opposition

Theresa May refuses to renegotiate Brexit deal despite fierce opposition

Theresa May refuses to renegotiate Brexit deal despite fierce opposition

|AIWA! NO!|Forgive me, I may have missed something. There has of course been a lot to take in over the last few days. But, despite what the latest former Brexit secretary believes, it seems to me that the Brexit withdrawal agreement delivers almost exactly what the UK voted for in June 2016.SEE

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The reasons 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU were multiple, complex and, in part, contradictory. But it is beyond doubt that a desire to control immigration was the most important reason. The evidence in this regard is overwhelming.

There is of course a need to understand why immigration became such an important concern for many voters (I blame austerity, in terms of both its material impact and the conservative ideas it normalised). Nevertheless, for the moment, the Brexit deal delivers on this agenda.

Yet Dominic Raab and Esther McVey’s resignation letters make no specific reference to immigration. They note more vaguely that the Brexit deal betrays “the promises we made to the country”, or “does not honour the result of the referendum”.There is some evidence to suggest that the slippery notion of sovereignty mattered for many voters, after immigration. “Take back control” was, after all, the key mantra of Vote Leave. But few people think in such abstract terms. The control people wanted to take back – the sovereignty that mattered – was over the UK’s borders.

May’s deal

The great irony of Theresa May’s current predicament is that only she, on the government benches, really seems to grasp this basic political reality. May is far closer to the core of public opinion – or at least the 2016 snapshot – than either the hard Brexiteers or the Tory remainers, as the deal she has agreed with the EU clearly demonstrates.

Although May supported Remain, principally because she understood the economic damage that Brexit would inflict, the author of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” agenda has always been an opponent of immigration.

The deal addresses the status of existing EU migrants and contains some specific arrangements in Northern Ireland related to preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland – but there is little to suggest that the UK has been compelled to accept the continued free movement of labour. The seven-page political declaration outlining the future relationship with the EU, published alongside the 585-page deal, includes only 35 words on the mobility of people between the UK and EU. It emphasises that temporary mobility will be allowed “for business purposes in defined areas”, with “visa-free travel for short-term visits”.

In other words, Dutch bankers and French chefs will remain welcome. Bricklayers from eastern European accession countries: not so much.