LAST night’s BBC TV hustings of the remaining five contenders for the Conservative Party leadership, and so for the premiership, brought about no surprises, other than that Boris Johnson made no gaffs, and that Michael Gove accused Jeremy Corbyn of being antisemitic.
But I was left wondering whether any of those candidates, following the elimination of Dominic Raab, would be likely to bring back Cabinet government to the UK, rather than merely becoming front men for the Civil Servants who so far have been determining the policies and running the negotiations.
My recent article in Politicalite, ‘START OF JUNE, END OF MAY: Brexit, Betrayal, And A Missing Cabinet’, collected the facts hidden in plain sight, to show that during Theresa May’s premiership the Cabinet’s policy on Brexit was led not by the Prime Minister, or by her Brexit Secretary, but by Civil Servants. At the centre of the row in the Parliamentary Conservative Party was that very question. Some of the main speakers against Theresa May’s style of leadership in the Conservative Party had spoken out in 2015 against the proposed Counter-Extremism Bill, which David Cameron and Theresa May as his Home Secretary had been trying to introduce. This would have enabled any opposition to be labeled as ‘extremist’, and silenced.
It transpired that Theresa May, as Prime Minister, had not consulted her Attorney General over the question of delaying Britain’s exit from the EU beyond 29 March, which was the date already set in law. This became clear during a talk at the June meeting of a group called Keep Talking, whose meetings I organise once a month in central London.
Our speaker was solicitor Robin Tilbrook, who had taken out legal proceedings at the High Court, putting a case that the UK in fact left the EU on that date. He is seeking a “Declaration from this Honourable Court that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland left the European Union upon the expiry of the Article 50 Notice on the 29th March 2019.” Robin Tillbrook stated: “Our case … is a legally strong one. The retired Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Richard Aikens confirmed this saying that it is ‘strongly arguable’ and that the UK ‘may be out’”.
However, Robin Tilbrook states: “We are being blocked by the Remainer dominated mainstream media and I have even had my Facebook Profile ‘Disabled’ for mentioning the case. (As you can see from my blog)”.
He continued, in an email to me: “It was in these circumstances that Theresa May cocked up her attempt to extend the Notice. It appears that her request for an extension and her agreement to one was done without checking with the Government’s Legal Advisor (the Attorney General). (See this clip of her replies to Bernard Jenkin in the Commons Committee for Exiting the EU”. When I clicked on the link I found that the video was no longer available. So I searched and found a write-up with video clips in the Express. Robin Tilbrook explained his case in simple language to RT (Russia Today), who posted a video of his interview on their YouTube channel on 20 May.
Will anything change with a new Prime Minister?
It would then appear that Theresa May as Prime Minister was blatantly disregarding her Cabinet, not even consulting her Attorney General, marginalising her Brexit ministers, and taking her orders from Civil Servants with an agenda determined by what is increasingly being referred to as the ‘Deep State’.
Way out in the lead is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, despite being generally regarded as unreliable. From what he says today people don’t know what he’ll be saying tomorrow. For much of the campaign he has been saying very little. He appeals to the Brexiteers in that he says he is for Brexit, but I suspect that some Remainers think that he may not quite do that. By saying as little as possible he can let them continue to interpret his intentions as they like. The big question is whether he will say something that will discredit him. As far as I am concerned, he’s already done that by saying in a BBC Radio 4 interview: “When I was foreign secretary we managed to organise the single biggest diplomatic coup this country has pulled off that I can remember, when I, like, – about 30 countries around the world expelled 153 Russian spies collectively in response to the poisoning”. I should have thought that if there were credible evidence that Russia had poisoned former KGB and MI6 spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury last year they wouldn’t have needed a “diplomatic coup” to get countries to take action against Russia. Former diplomat Craig Murray called Boris Johnson a “categorical liar”, stating, “Evidence submitted by the British government in court today proves, beyond any doubt, that Boris Johnson has been point blank lying about the degree of certainty Porton Down scientists have about the Skripals being poisoned with a Russian ‘novichok’ agent”.
The big argument for electing Boris Johnson is that he is believed to be the only candidate who can stand up to Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn. They may be right, but it won’t last long, before they make mincemeat of him. On the other hand, if he is elected, it is likely that the new Brexit Secretary will be Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is I think quite genuine, and probably the quietest and most rational person in the whole chamber.
When Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary his place was taken by Jeremy Hunt, who is also a candidate in the current campaign. He derided Jeremy Corbyn for asking what evidence there was that Iran had been responsible for the recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. According to the BBC, Jeremy Hunt said responsibility for the attacks “almost certainly” lies with the Iranian regime. Many people in the UK think that the verbal attacks on Iran coming from the US are almost certainly lies. The US administration had been ramping up beligerence against Iran, and it wouldn’t have been in Iran’s interests to create such an opportunity for the US to move a further step towards war. Craig Murray wrote: “I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe that Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly, US-disapproved talks in Tehran on economic cooperation”.
Both Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who is also a contestant, supported Theresa May in her Commons statement on Julian Assange, when she stated, “I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange for breach of bail, after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy“. Craig Murray wrote under the heading ‘Jeremy Hunt Works That Rogue State Status’, “When Jeremy Hunt decided to attack the United Nations on twitter yesterday, he didn’t expect them to respond. He got owned. … The bias of the British courts has been palpable and stinking. Hunt’s response to being called out, by saying the UN ‘should allow British courts to make their judgements’, is a nonsense. British judges have shown themselves to be utterly untrustworthy”. It sounds to me as if Jeremy Hunt’s strings are being pulled by the same Civil Servants as Theresa May’s.
I did have hopes that Sajid Javid would speak out on human rights, since he did in 2015 over the proposed Counter-Extremism Bill. But Craig Murray wrote: “Finally, we have of course seen Sajid Javid sign the extradition warrant for Julian Assange to be sent to the United States for the ‘crime’ of publishing truthful information about US government illegalities. Julian’s extradition hearing was, contrary to normal practice, held despite the fact he was too sick to attend in person. And it was presided over by Judge Arbuthnot, despite the fact that her husband is a former Tory defence minister who started a ‘security consultancy’ in partnership with a former head of MI6, the war criminal John Scarlett who oversaw the fabrication of the dossier of lies about Iraqi WMD, in order to launch an illegal war of aggression that killed and maimed millions. The Assange team had asked her to recuse herself on that pretty obvious basis, but she had refused. At an earlier hearing she taunted Assange with the observation that he could get adequate exercise in the Embassy on a 1.5 meter Juliet balcony”.
So does it matter who replaces Theresa May as Prime Minister, if the Cabinet continues to be run by the Civil Servants who have been running it under Theresa May? Her first Brexit Secretary, David Davis, wanted the Brexit negotiator, civil servant Olly Robins, to be sacked. His candidate in the leadership elections was Domenic Raab, who succeeded him as Brexit Secretary, but also resigned. He would probably have presented the best opportunity for sacking the Civil Servants and pursuing an independent line. In 2011 he led a debate in the House of Commons calling for extradition reform. His motion had cross-party support, and was backed by Gary McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharpe. He has done a lot on human rights, and published a book ‘The Assault on Liberty – What Went Wrong with Rights’. His main vulnerability may be his statement, “Israeli settlement building undermined prospects for a contiguous Palestinian state”. If he were in the Labour Party he would undoubtedly have been suspended or expelled for antisemtitism under their new definition of the word. However, shortly before the BBC TV hustings he was eliminated from the contest.
The most persuasive of the remaining candidates is undoubtedly Rory Stewart, until you listen to what he’s saying. I think he’s advocating putting Theresa May’s ‘withdrawal agreement’ for a fourth time and expecting different results. He’d call a people’s assembly, but that, too, could be blocked by Parliament. What then?
The most enigmatic candidate for me is Michael Gove, who is hugely experienced in government, but remains enigmatic. He supported Boris Johnson in the previous leadership election until hours before the deadline, then pulled the plug on him and stood himself. He is a strong Zionist and member of Conservative Friends of Israel, and believed to be a neo-Conservative. He started off in the Labour Party before becoming a Conservative, but then as a Conservative was a fan of Tony Blair because of his handling of the Iraq war.
Will extradition be the trigger?
In the meantime, much has been made in the mainstream media of the lack of democracy in China, and in particular the protests in Hong Kong over a proposed change in their law to allow extradition for criminal charges to China and Taiwan. Whether these mass demonstrations are entirely spontaneous or not remains to be seen. Mint Press in the US reports, “Some of the groups involved receive significant funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA soft-power cutout that has played a critical role in innumerable U.S. regime-change operations”. Yet it doesn’t seem to occur to any of our paid ‘journalists’ that the UK has an extradition law by which UK citizens can be sent to a foreign country which regularly breaches international law, and which runs at least one concentration camp with torture and military tribunals in breach of the Geneva Conventions. This law is the Extradition Act 2003.
According to Statewatch, which monitors the state and civil liberties in Europe, “On 31 March, David Blunkett, UK Home Secretary, signed a new Extradition Treaty on behalf of the UK with his United States counterpart, Attorney General Tom Ashcroft, ostensibly bringing the US into line with procedures between European countries. The UK parliament was not consulted at all and the text was not public available until the end of May”. They state also: “Under the new treaty, the allegations of the US government will be enough to secure the extradition of people from the UK. However, if the UK wants to extradite someone from the US, evidence to the standard of a ‘reasonable’ demonstration of guilt will still be required”. Here we have all the elements of the Hong Kong situation, and more. It is an unequal extradition law, apparently not passed by Parliament, but merely imposed on the people. But where were the mass protests over this? It is simply hypocritical for the UK authorities to be pointing the finger at the authorities in Hong Kong and China, whilst implementing such a draconian law in the UK. A House of Commons Library report explains how this relates to Julian Assange.
And whilst the mass media report on the violence of the Hong Kong police in suppressing these demonstrations, they virtually ignore the greater violence that is going on every week in France, in which the military are firing rubber bullets at the heads of peaceful Yellow Vest demonstrators, causing an epidemic of eye injuries and other serious conditions. The situation was recently described by French video blogger and lawyer Georgia Pouliquen in an interview with UK Column.
If Brexit is not delivered by the next Prime Minister, and the Cabinet continues to be run by Civil Servants, we could well see such scenes on the streets of Britain, calling for the restoration of democracy in the UK.