Author: Adarsh Girijadevi

Theresa May gets her way over hard Brexit

Theresa May is on course to trigger Article 50 by her target of early March, after the Brexit bill cleared the Commons with no changes. On a day in which Britain veered ever closer to a “hard Brexit”, Jeremy Corbyn was stung – and divisions in the Labour exposed still further – by the resignation of Clive Lewis, a key ally of the Labour leader in the shadow Cabinet. MPs again gave their overwhelming backing to the Prime Minister to start withdrawal talks on her terms – by 494 votes to 122 – on the final Commons reading of the landmark legislation.

Crucially, they rejected no fewer than nine attempted amendments, including one to guarantee the future rights of EU nationals, which means a ‘clean’ Bill will go to the upper chamber. Delighted Brexit supporters believe that will make it harder for the unelected Lords – despite a strong Remain majority – to amend the Bill, because of a reluctance to take on elected MPs. The Lords will face an overwhelming public call to be abolished if they now try and frustrate this bill. They must get on and deliver the will of the British people.The bill is now expected to be given royal assent on 7 March – allowing the Prime Minister to formally notify the EU that she is invoking Article 50 at an EU summit later that week.

Pro-Europe MPs loudly hummed “Ode to Joy”, the EU anthem, as the final historic votes were cast, until the Deputy Speaker told them to be quiet. Just minutes earlier, Clive Lewis, Labour’s shadow Business Secretary, announced he was quitting the shadow Cabinet in order to vote against Article 50, but Diane Abbott, the shadow Home Secretary, backed it. London MP with a huge pro-Remain constituency, she said: “I don’t believe we’ve given a blank cheque. We’re going to be holding them to account on the floor of the House.”

A delighted David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said: “We’ve seen a historic vote tonight – a big majority for getting on with negotiating our exit from the EU and a strong, new partnership with its member states. “The decision on EU membership has been made by the people we serve. It is now time for everyone, whichever way they voted in the referendum, to unite to make a success of the important task at hand for our country.”

Earlier, MPs threw out an attempted amendment to immediately “protect the residence rights” of three million EU citizens in the UK, facing huge uncertainty over their future. Some Tory MPs had threatened a rebellion, urging Ms May to act without waiting for other EU countries to protect the rights of 1.2 million British citizens in their countries. But the revolt fizzled out after Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, insisted the decision would be in MPs’ hands and that “nothing would change” without their consent.

Leading pro-Brexit MPs who claimed the NHS would receive an extra £350m-a-week after Brexit were condemned for voting against an amendment demanding an analysis of the impact on the NHS. Current and former Cabinet ministers Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel all campaigned on the alleged spending bonanza for the health service – some alongside a battlebus promising voters the extra £350m.

Ms May was forced to draw up the bill after the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament must give its consent to triggering Article 50, but it proved far from the major hindrance she appeared to fear.

Share this:

NHS hands over patient records to Home Office for immigration crackdown

The confidential patient records of more than 8,000 people have been handed over by the NHS to the Home Office in the past year as part of its drive to track down immigration offenders.A memorandum of understanding, published for the first time on Tuesday, makes clear that NHS digital is required by law to hand over non-clinical patient details including last known addresses, dates of birth, GP’s details and date registered with doctor.

The latest figures show that the number of Home Office requests have risen threefold since 2014 as the government has stepped up Theresa May’s drive to “create a hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in Britain.Patients and migrants’ rights groups have expressed serious concerns in the past over the use of NHS records to track down immigration offenders and warned there is a real danger it could deter some from seeking medical help for themselves or their children.

Department of Health figures show that the Home Office made 8,127 requests for patient details in the first eleven months of 2016, which led to 5,854 people being traced by immigration enforcement. The first three months of 2014 saw just 725 Home Office requests compared with 2,244 between September and October last year.The disclosure of the scale of the use of NHS records for immigration enforcement follows a similar agreement between the Home Office and the Department for Education to share the details of up to 1,500 pupils a month to trace potential immigration offenders.

The legal powers requiring the NHS to share confidential patient information records are contained in obscure exemptions in the Health and Social Care Act. The new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Health published on Tuesday justifies their use, saying it is in the public interest that UK public services, including the NHS, jobs, schools and housing, should be protected from unnecessary pressures.

The information to be disclosed under this MoU is administrative in nature and consequently falls at the less intrusive end of the privacy spectrum, making disclosure easier to justify as the public interest threshold is lower,” states the MoU.A government spokesperson said: “We share limited information between health agencies and the Home Office to trace immigration offenders and vulnerable people, and prevent those without the right to access benefits and services doing so at the expense of the UK taxpayer.

“Access to this information is strictly controlled, with strong legal safeguards. No clinical information is shared, and before anything at all is shared there has to be a legal basis to do so. Immigration officials only contact the NHS when other reasonable attempts to locate people have been unsuccessful.”

The Home Office said that no-one is denied urgent treatment and vulnerable people, including those seeking asylum and refugees, are not charged for NHS care they receive. But it said it is increasing the numbers of people leaving Britain voluntarily by sharing information across government to deny access to benefits and services to those who are here illegally, and making it more difficult to access private rental and financial services.

Full story can be read here.

Share this:

Theresa May promises White Paper on EU exit plan

The PM said she recognised there was an “appetite” for a White Paper setting out her “bold plan”.A number of Conservative MPs had joined Labour in asking for such a move. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn demanded to know when the paper would be published and said the PM was threatened to turn the UK into a “bargain basement” economy.

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled MPs must vote on whether the government can start Brexit. A parliamentary bill paving the way for talks with the EU could be introduced as early as Thursday.More than half a dozen Conservative MPs including some ex-ministers had called for a White Paper – a government policy document which sets out proposals for future acts of Parliament – on Brexit to be published in the coming days.

The BBC understands they discussed this with Conservative Party whips on Tuesday. Labour is warning it is prepared to engage in “hand-to-hand combat” in Parliament to ensure the process of leaving the EU is fully scrutinised. The party says it will not vote against a parliamentary bill invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – getting talks with the EU under way – but will try to amend it.

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the government could only invoke Article 50 with a vote in Parliament – rejecting ministers’ argument that this was not necessary.BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she expected a short bill to be published on Thursday, with a view to it being debated for the first time next week.

Mrs May wants to invoke Article 50 by the end of March.

Full story can be read here.

Share this:

Supreme Court says Parliament must give Article 50 go-ahead

Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the Brexit process, the Supreme Court has ruled.The judgement means Theresa May cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs and peers give their backing – although this is expected to happen in time for the government’s 31 March deadline.

But the court ruled the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies did not need a say. Brexit Secretary David Davis promised a parliamentary bill “within days”.Sources have told the BBC the bill – to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and get formal exit negotiations with the EU under way – will be introduced this Thursday, with an expectation that it could pass through the House of Commons in a fortnight.

During the Supreme Court hearing, campaigners argued that denying the UK Parliament a vote was undemocratic and a breach of long-standing constitutional principles.They said triggering Article 50 would mean overturning existing UK law, so MPs and peers should decide.

Share this:

Theresa May faces new Brexit legal challenge

Theresa May faces a new challenge to her bid to start the process to take Britain out of the European Union after it emerged that opponents plan to launch a fresh legal action on Monday.Campaigners are planning to write to the government to say that they are going to launch a High Court action to keep Britain in the single market.

The claimants are seeking a judicial review in an attempt to give MPs a new power of veto over the terms on which Britain leaves the EU, following a legal path set by campaigner Gina Miller whose case was heard in the Supreme Court last week.If they are successful, the legal action could stop the prime minister from making a clean break with Brussels, delay her pledge to kick-start negotiations in March or even derail Brexit completely.

The claimants will argue that the government “has no mandate” to withdraw from the single market because it was not on the referendum ballot paper on June 23and was not part of the Conservative Party manifesto for last year’s general election, it was reported on Saturday.The two claimants are Peter Wilding, chairman of pressure group British Influence and  who voted to remain; and Adrian Yalland, a Conservative lobbyist who voted to leave.

Mr Wilding said: “This is not stopping Brexit, this is shaping it. The country demands a win-win, smart Brexit; not a lose-lose ideological hard Brexit which will damage the UK, damage Europe and for which there is no need and no mandate.”Mr  Yalland said he was concerned the government would be acting illegally if it did  not get a proper mandate for leaving the single market.

The legal action bid comes as government sources said they believe there will be a split decision over the Supreme Court’s Article 50 ruling, with judges voting seven to four in favour of giving Parliament a veto on when Britain leaves the European Union, the Sunday Telegraph can disclose.The news that more judges than expected could back the Government’s argument is a boost for the Brexit side, as some had feared before the case that only one vote would be in the Government’s favour.

A narrow loss for the appeal will make it harder for Remain-supporting MPs and peers to frustrate the progress of a new law to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start talks to leave the EU by the end of March.Legal commentators and experts had believed the court comprised overwhelmingly pro-Remain judges, with some expecting the Government would lose by a margin of 10 to one.

However, government lawyers in the courtroom now believe the margin is actually much narrower. One source said: “It is difficult to predict how the case is going to go but the thinking of those in the room is that there might be a sizeable minority who are with the Government.“The understanding is it is unlikely to be a slam dunk either way; even if a majority agree with Gina Miller [who brought the case] there will be a sizeable minority who don’t. It will potentially be a split decision. The source added: “The feeling among those in the room was the division among the judges was much more pronounced than perhaps it first appeared.”

The Supreme Court is considering the case after losing a High Court hearing last month. The judges are expected to announce their decision before the end of next month.Ms Miller’s legal team argued that because triggering Article 50 would revoke the legislation which took Britain into Europe, it would require an Act of Parliament to leave the EU.

Full Story can be read here.

Share this:

Boris Johnson calls for illegal immigrants to be granted amnesty after Brexit

The Foreign Secretary has suggested that offering amnesty to those who have avoided detection for 10 years would be economically beneficial. The idea which was raised at a meeting in Number 10 has been described as “insane” by one minister present.

Mr Johnson first argued for an amnesty in 2008 and he repeated the politically controversial idea during his time as Mayor of London.He raised the issue again during the referendum campaign and argued that offering amnesty would be “the humane thing to do.”

One senior minister told the Sun: “It’s an insane idea and would make ordinary Brits furious.Theresa May ruled out the introduction of amnesties during her time as Home Secretary, claiming it would send out “the wrong message”.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “Boris reiterated what he has said publicly before about amnesties, including during the EU referendum campaign.

Share this:

PM used first Lord Mayor’s Banquet speech to warn about immigration

Theresa May last night warned Britain’s elite to learn the lessons of Brexit and Donald Trump by never again ignoring the public’s fears about immigration – but some guests appeared to drop off during her speech.

The Prime Minister used her first Lord Mayor’s Banquet speech to say voters never gave permission for immigration to change their communities.However, despite her rousing and impassioned speech that ‘change is in the air’, not everyone seemed to be hanging off her every word. Some guests – including David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – appeared to be taking a nap during her address.

As she spoke from a gold chair in a gilded room, Mrs May and her audience dined on a menu of Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps, fillet of British beef, mini toffee apples and ‘The Lord Mayor’s Knickerbocker Glory’. And they washed their hearty meal down with a selection of the finest wines including a Chateau Lynch-Moussas 2003 – which can sell for more than £300 a bottle.

The Prime Minister was pictured in a stunning red gown as she arrived with her husband Philip, who donned a white tie tuxedo as they arrived at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet tonight. Mrs May told the audience of VIPs few would have predicted the political earthquakes that have shaken pundits in 2016.

She said: ‘Change is in the air. And when people demand change, it is the job of politicians to respond.’ In her speech, Mrs May made clear controlling immigration is a key demand of the electorate as people have seen ‘jobs being outsourced and wages undercut’.And she added: ‘They see their communities changing around them and don’t remember giving their permission for that to be the case.’She insisted they will ‘respond to these concerns’ and ‘make these twin forces work for everyone’.

In a TV interview yesterday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he understood the concerns about immigration but said intolerance was not the right solution. And she added: ‘They see their communities changing around them and don’t remember giving their permission for that to be the case.’She insisted they will ‘respond to these concerns’ and ‘make these twin forces work for everyone’. ‘Blame should be put where it belongs and that is the corporate investment decisions that have done so much damage to industry all over Europe,’ Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Mrs May also told businesses the referendum marked a new era for an ‘agile’ Britain that, rather than turning inward, and can ‘show the world that we can be the strongest global advocate for free markets and free trade because we believe they are the best way to lift people out of poverty’. But Labour campaign chief Jon Tricket said the PM had made been making such pledges since she took office in July.’Theresa May has spent the early days of her time in No 10 giving speeches about spreading opportunity and providing leadership but her actions have betrayed her,’ he said.

You can Read more here:

Share this:

Theresa May says UK will not raise visa quota for Indian nationals

Theresa May has dashed Indian hopes for a more liberal visa system for its nationals wanting to work in the UK by arguing that the current offer is generous enough.Speaking on the way to her first bilateral meeting in Delhi, the prime minister argued that Britain was already able to attract the “brightest and best” from outside the EU. “The figures show that we issue more work visas to India than I think US, Australia and China put together. Nine out of 10 visa applications from India are already accepted. We have, I believe, a good system,” she said.

The comments will prove disappointing for some in the Indian government and business community who have argued for more of their highly skilled professional workers to be able to get six-month visas for the UK and other European countries.The demand for more freedoms for Indian workers moving abroad was a part of trade negotiations with the EU, which stalled because of failure to agree on it and other issues.

Vince Cable, the former Lib Dem business secretary, said May’s refusal to agree to any such liberalisation in the past was a key stumbling block to trade talks between the EU and India. Although he admitted they were complex negotiations, he claimed that her unwillingness to budge was down to an obsession over getting the net migration numbers down as home secretary.May said she hoped that her three-day visit to India would pave the way for a future trade arrangement after Brexit as she sought to break down barriers. However, she suggested she did not think a more generous visa system was necessary.

“Trade is an important part of our relationship with India. India is the third-biggest investor into the UK – second-biggest creator of private sector jobs in the UK. And the UK is the biggest G20 investor into India, but there is more we can do,” she said.May was joined by a delegation of business representatives for a trip during which she attended the India-UK tech summit in Delhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before a bilateral meeting.

Modi used a speech to heavily hint that he wanted young people to be more able to travel abroad to study, after stricter rules in Britain on how long graduates can stay contributed to a halving of the number of Indian students coming to the UK to study over five years.“Education is vital for our students and will define our engagement in a shared future. We must therefore encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities,” he said.

May used her speech to the tech summit to insist she wanted an open relationship with India, laying out plans for India to become the first visa country to be put on a registered traveller scheme which helps speed up the experience of visitors in British airports.

Full story can be read here.

Share this:

Tier 2, Tier 4 & English Language requirement – Immigration rule changes

The government announced on 3rd November, changes to the Immigration Rules which will affect applications made on or after 24 November unless stated otherwise.

The main changes are outlined below:

Tier 2

Implement the first of 2 phases of changes to Tier 2, announced by the government in March following a review by the Independent Migration Advisory Committee.

  • Increasing the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions
  • Increasing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000
  • Reducing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year
  • Closing the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category

These changes will come into effect for all certificates of sponsorship assigned by Tier 2 sponsors on or after 24 November 2016. The date from which intra company transfers will be liable for the health surcharge will be announced in due course.

Tier 4

A number of changes are being made, including amendments to the academic progression rule, maintenance requirements for the Doctorate Extension Scheme and evidence of overseas qualifications, UK qualifications used as evidence, and a series of minor and technical adjustments.

English language requirement

As announced in January this year, a new English language requirement at level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is being introduced for non-EEA partners and parents.

This affects those applying to extend their stay after 2.5 years in the UK on a 5-year route to settlement under Appendix FM (Family Member) of the Immigration Rules. The new requirement will apply to partners and parents whose current leave under the family Immigration Rules is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.

More information is available in the statement of changes.

Share this: