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Theresa May, Brexit and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Judgment, like the previous High Court Judgment, will not derail or even significantly slow down Britain’s exit from the EU. The court decisions have however forced Theresa May to say finally that Britain is heading for a “hard Brexit”: quitting the European Single Market so that it can reimpose border controls. They have also further exposed Theresa May as a weak and indecisive leader who does not know her own mind.

Alexander Mercouris

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The decision of Britain’s Supreme Court to refuse the British government’s appeal against the High Court Judgment, which said that the British government must consult the British Parliament before invoking Article 50, appears to have stirred fewer passions than the High Court Judgment did.

This is perhaps because of the general expectation that the British government would lose the appeal.  This meant that where the High Court Judgment came as a shock for many people, the Supreme Court Judgment did not.

I have discussed the High Court Judgment previously.  I said that though I am not a constitutional lawyer it appeared to me reasonable and well-considered, and though I did not think it was completely appeal proof I doubted the Supreme Court would set it aside

In my opinion this is a very well thought out and carefully considered Judgment delivered by three of the country’s top Judges.  Certainly I do not think this was a politicised Judgment intended to wreck the Brexit process. 

I do not have the constitutional law expertise to say whether this Judgment is right or wrong, or whether it will survive on appeal.  On balance I don’t agree with those who say this Judgment is appeal proof, but neither do I think that the Supreme Court will set it aside.

The Supreme Court’s 8-3 split when it decided to dismiss the government appeal, which suggests that this assessment of the High Court Judgment was roughly right.

More importantly, I also said – and I still say – that whatever the legal and constitutional importance of these court decisions, they will not derail or even significantly slow down the Brexit process as some people hope and some others fear.

What I doubt is that this Judgment will derail the Brexit process as some people think.

Though the British government will have to present legislation to the British Parliament in order to get the Article 50 process underway, I have no doubt it will be able to do this and to get this legislation passed when it does. 

Though it is true that most of the members of the British Parliament in the referendum supported Remain, the government has a majority in the House of Commons, and it would surely treat any refusal by Parliament to pass this legislation as a resigning matter. 

What that would mean is that it would threaten to call an election if the legislation were not passed, in which it would campaign as the government that was trying to carry out the will of the people as expressed in the referendum against a recalcitrant Labour opposition and any dissenting Conservatives intent on thwarting it.

With the government already far ahead in the opinion polls, that would create the conditions for a government victory by a landslide, resulting in a government and a Parliament even more committed to the ‘hard’ Brexit outcome than the one we have now.

I cannot imagine that even the most doctrinaire Remain supporters, whether in Parliament or outside it, would be unable to see this, and for that reason I expect the government to get its way.  Probably on especially contentious issues the Labour opposition will abstain after some sort of compromise is forged.

Since I wrote that in November shortly after the High Court Judgment it appears to have become the consensus view.  In fact most commentators have come to acknowledge that High Court and Supreme Court Judgments cause more political problems for the opposition Labour Party – which is far more split on the Brexit issue than the Conservatives – than it does for the government.

A more pertinent question is why these court Judgments were needed at all.  It beggars belief that the government’s lawyers didn’t warn it back in the summer and early autumn that it was running serious risks by trying to invoke Article 50 without consulting Parliament.  This is one occasion when I find myself in agreement with the Guardian’s editorial writer

It would be a major surprise if, following the leave vote last June, government lawyers had not privately offered the prime minister legal advice along broadly the lines that the supreme court upheld today. If so, Mrs May foolishly ignored the advice because she clearly wanted to keep her post-referendum strategy as secret as possible – and still does. This was the wrong way to respond to the challenges posed by the referendum result – and the Commons, which was cowed, did not challenge her with enough determination.

Indeed this episode points to what is the true heart of the whole problem: in Theresa May Britain has a weak and indecisive Prime Minister, who because she does not know her own mind is unable to give a clear lead, whether on Brexit or on any other issue.

As I wrote back in early December, her reluctance to go to Parliament was not based on any major constitutional principle or because she was seriously worried she might lose a vote there.  It was because she had no Brexit plan to put to Parliament.  To the extent that she did have one, it did not make sense

Unfortunately in the weeks which have followed it has become increasingly clear that Theresa May has no more idea of what to do on the subject of Brexit than anyone else.  For weeks she hid behind the easy but actually meaningless slogan “Brexit means Brexit”.  However she has never spelled out either what form she wants Brexit to take, or how she intends to achieve it. 

The best that could be said of her is that she seemed to want to preserve Britain’s membership of the European Single Market, whilst opting out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and regaining control of Britain’s borders.

This is a completely illogical policy.  Firstly membership of the European Single Market actually requires Britain to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.  It cannot be otherwise since it is the European Court of Justice which administers the acquis, the EU’s body of law which regulates the European Single Market.

Secondly, it is not at all obvious why the EU would agree to allow Britain continued access to the European Single Market whilst simultaneously permitting Britain to reimpose its own border controls.

What the High Court and Supreme Court Judgments have done is force Theresa May to come out and say – at last – what sort of Brexit she wants.  

Since it cannot be the ‘plan’ she was hinting at back in the autumn – which was in reality nothing more than an ill-thought-out wish-list – she has finally been forced to choose between the only two realistic options: remaining in the European Single Market and surrendering British border controls (“soft Brexit”), or withdrawing from the the European Single Market and re-establishing British border controls (“hard Brexit”).  

Unsurprisingly, in light of the known views of most British Conservative voters, she has taken the line of least resistance, and opted for the later ie. for “hard Brexit”.  

She has also now finally promised a White Paper on her Brexit plan (a White Paper is the document the British government uses to outline its legislative plans), something which she ought to have done at the latest in September or October.

If the British courts have finally smoked Theresa May out on the all-important Brexit issue, the problem remains that Britain is stuck with a weak and indecisive Prime Minister, who does not know her own mind, which at a time when the international situation is exceptionally fluid and the prospect of Scottish secession looms is or should be a matter of serious concern.

Theresa May has been very fortunate that the deeply divided state of Britain’s opposition Labour Party – which is facing an existential crisis in its northern heartlands – together with the British economy’s strong performance in recent months, has left her politically unchallenged.

On her present form, her future as Prime Minister depends on how long her present luck continues to hold.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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