UK Foreign Secretary Didn't Know What The Customs Union Was. Boris Johnson, the former UK…
The UK Has Sold Over £400million Worth Of Military Equipment To Israel.
James Cleverly has been accused of breaking the UK’s Ministerial Code and of “obfuscation” in refusing to properly answer questions put to him in the House of Commons.
Declassified has found 14 recent cases where the Foreign Minister has failed to provide direct answers to written questions by MPs.
Cleverly, who is also a reserve officer in the British army’s royal artillery regiment, has been particularly evasive when asked if UK arms were used by Israel during its latest bombardment of Gaza, which saw 66 Palestinian children killed in May.
The UK has sold over £400million worth of military equipment to Israel since 2015 and applies no restrictions on how these supplies might be used.
Under the Ministerial Code, ministers have a duty to “be as open as possible with parliament” and to “give accurate and truthful information”.
A House of Commons guide states that “this requirement governs the answers ministers provide to parliamentary questions”.
While ministers routinely provide minimal information to parliament, it is not normal for them to refuse entirely to directly address specific questions.
( Mark Curtis, 30.06.2021 ) .. declassifieduk.org
Tory MP Has Received £30,000 In Donations From A Climate Sceptic.
Tory leadership hopeful Penny Mordaunt took a third donation from a prominent climate sceptic during her last campaign for the top job, despite distancing herself from his views during the contest.
OpenDemocracy first reported in July 2022 that Mordaunt had received £20,000 from First Corporate Consultants – a company run by Terence Mordaunt, who chaired the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) between 2019 and 2021.
Now the register of members’ interests at Parliament shows Commons leader Mordaunt received a third donation of £10,000 from Terence Mordaunt’s company on 19 July 2022 – the same day her campaign spokesperson told the i newspaper that Terence Mordaunt’s views were “not shared by Penny”.
It brings the total she has received since 2019 to £30,000, and means Terence Mordaunt has been the largest donor and most consistent financial supporter of the prime ministerial hopeful on record.
( Jim Fitzpatrick, 20.10.2022 ) .. opendemocracy.net
An Analysis Shows The UK Backs Most Of The Repressive Regimes In The World.
Freedom House, a Washington-based think tank funded almost entirely by the U.S. government, published a report designating 64 of the world’s 210 countries or territories as “not free”.
More than half of them are ruled by regimes supported to varying degrees by the United Kingdom.
Britain sells arms, provides security training or has troops deployed to at least 36 of the countries listed as “not free”, comprising 56% of the total.
The regimes range from absolute monarchies to those run by authoritarian leaders who hold unfair elections or subject territories to military occupation.
The findings undermine the British government’s constant claim to be a “force for good” in the world.
Boris Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto said “our alliances with like-minded democracies” were a reason “for the UK to hold its head high”.
( Phil Miller, 11.03.2021 ) .. declassifieduk.org
An Anti-Russia Propaganda Campaign Originating From A ‘Bot Army’ Of Fake Automated Twitter Accounts Flooded The Internet At The Start Of The War.
A team of researchers at the University of Adelaide have found that as many as 80% of tweets about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine war in its early weeks were part of a covert propaganda campaign originating from automated fake ‘bot’ accounts.
An anti-Russia propaganda campaign originating from a ‘bot army’ of fake automated Twitter accounts flooded the internet at the start of the war.
The research shows of the more than 5 million tweets studied, 90.2% of all tweets (both bot and non-bot) came from accounts that were pro-Ukraine, with fewer than 7% of the accounts being classed as pro-Russian.
The university researchers also found these automated tweets had been purposely used to drive up fear amongst people targeted by them, boosting a high level of statistically measurable ‘angst’ in the online discourse.
The research team analysed a massively unprecedented 5,203,746 tweets, sent with key hashtags, in the first two weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from February 24, 2022.
The size of the sample under study, of over 5 million tweets, dwarfs other recent studies of covert propaganda in social media surrounding the Ukraine war.
This ground-breaking study, exposing a massive anti-Russia social media disinformation campaign, has been effectively ignored by the mainstream Western establishment media.
It’s become almost routine during the Russia-Ukraine war.
It was like someone had flicked a switch, when at the start of the war on 24 February, pro-Ukraine bot activity suddenly burst into life.
In that first day of the war the #IStandWithUkraine hashtag was used in as many as 38,000 tweets each hour, rising to 50,000 tweets an hour by day three of the war.
By comparison, the data shows that in the first week there was an almost total absence of pro-Russian bot activity.
( Peter Cronau, 03.11.2022 ) .. declassifiedaus.org
Charles, Royal Salesman For British Arms Exports.
Charles, prior to being Britain’s King, held 95 meetings with eight repressive monarchies in the Middle East since the ‘Arab Spring’ protests of 2011 threatened their power.
Charles has played a key role in promoting £14.5billion worth of UK arms exports to these regimes in the last decade.
Charles’ visits tend to whitewash the Middle Eastern monarchies’ human rights abuses, often coinciding with repression of opposition activists or the media.
He plays a key role in cementing UK relations with key allies, acting as a de facto high-level salesman for British arms exports and promoting military cooperation.
While the palace emphasises his cultural visits, Charles’ meetings are often with senior military, intelligence and internal security officials.
Charles is also the patron of the UK intelligence agencies.
( Phil Miller and Mark Curtis, 24.02.2021 ) .. declassifieduk.org
UK Government Reprimanded Over False Trade Deals.
The official statistics watchdog has reprimanded the Conservative government for claiming the UK had secured £800billion in “new free trade deals” since leaving the EU, saying the figure includes deals rolled over from before Brexit.
The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) said it had written to the Tories about the infographic, shared by Michael Gove among others, also warning that the party should provide sources for such figures in the future.
( Peter Walker, 12.12.2022 ) .. theguardian.com
Former UK Senior Government Officials Profit From Fossil Fuel Companies.
Former government senior public officials often find lucrative employment in oil, gas and mining companies after they leave office.
Dozens of former secretaries of state, ministers, heads of intelligence agencies, ambassadors and chiefs of the British military take advantage of a revolving door that allows them to work for corporations in a sector whose interests some have promoted while in office.
Former secretaries of state Sir Michael Fallon and Philip, now Lord, Hammond, are among the beneficiaries of a process which has been criticised for being at “the heart of how the British establishment survives and thrives across Whitehall”.
The exchange of personnel between government and energy firms goes both ways.
Former staff of Anglo/Dutch oil giant Shell, who are also senior executives at large mining corporations, currently sit on the boards of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), playing a role in shaping UK foreign and military policies.
The ease with which former officials can move from public office to energy companies is being largely rubber-stamped by a government-run body which is meant to scrutinise conflicts of interest when former officials take up employment in the private sector.
The body, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) – which is chaired by a former Conservative minister, Lord Pickles – is routinely allowing ministers and officials to work for energy companies with only minimal conditions placed on their terms of employment.
The new research suggests that fossil fuel companies are deeply embedded in the corridors of Whitehall and in the career paths of ministers and civil servants.
( Mark Curtis, 04.02.2021 ) .. declassifieduk.org
The UK Is Selling Arms To Dictatorships And Human Rights Abusers.
The British government claims to have a “robust” system for regulating the export of UK arms and military equipment around the world – but this is an illusion.
In practice, UK controls on arms exports are all but voluntary, and Britain routinely arms states abusing human rights and those at war.
Britain exported over £11billion worth of arms around the world in 2019.
The reality is that the British government and its weapons manufacturers, between whom there is a symbiotic relationship, repeatedly violate domestic law and international agreements on arms controls with no repercussions.
The British arms industry, politicians, the military and intelligence services can all essentially do what they want, with limited scrutiny and virtually no accountability.
Under its official arms export criteria, the UK is not meant to grant a licence “if there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression”.
Yet the UK routinely exports military equipment to human rights-abusing states where UK equipment might be used for such repression, such as Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and many others.
Neither is the UK meant to “grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.
However, for the past six years, the UK has armed Saudi Arabia during its war in Yemen which has seen significant breaches of international humanitarian law.
The UK applies no blanket ban on supplying arms to dictatorships, human rights abusers or countries at war.
Ministers themselves simply interpret the “criteria” to decide if recipients “might” use British equipment for nefarious purposes and usually decide that they won’t.
The “end use” of such equipment is then not monitored by the British government, meaning recipient states are free to use that equipment as they like.
Arms corporations exert huge influence over government policy-making.
( Andrew Feinstein and Alexandra Smidman, 14.09.2021 ) .. declassifieduk.org
The Following UK MPs Have Registered Income From Consultancy Work On The Register of Members’ Financial Interests In The Last Year (2020/2021).
- Andrew Mitchell (Conservative) holds six consultancy jobs, supporting investment banks and accountancy firms.
He has registered more than £180,000 for 34.5 days’ work.
- Julian Smith (Conservative) is earning £144,000 for 62-84 hours’ work for three companies, including advising on energy and renewable fuels.
- Former transport and justice secretary Chris Grayling (Conservative) earns £100,000 to advise Hutchison Ports.
- Mark Garnier (Conservative) is paid to sit on the advisory boards of two companies in the space and satellite industry, committing 20 hours a month for an annual payment of £90,000.
- Sir Ed Davey (Lib Dem) works as a consultant for two firms alongside his job as leader of the Liberal Democrats.
He says his extra £78,000 income goes towards supporting his disabled son.
- Alun Cairns (Conservative), who left his post as Welsh Secretary in 2019, earns £60,000 advising three companies.
- Ruth Edwards (Conservative), who has represented Rushcliffe since 2019, commits to 192 hours for £60,000 per year, advising a software company.
- Stephen Hammond (Conservative) advises an investment company on political issues for £60,000 a year.
- Since leaving his role as health minister in 2019, Steve Brine (Conservative) has joined three firms, including Sigma Pharmaceuticals. He earns almost £60,000 for 288 hours.
- David Davis (Conservative) earns just over £50,000 as an adviser to two German companies.
- John Hayes (Conservative) offers up to 90 hours of his time annually to international energy company BB Energy Trading, earning £50,000.
- Former party leader and cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative) advises two health companies for £45,000.
- Damian Green (Conservative) advises transport company Abellio on rail policy for 288 hours and £40,000 annually.
- Tim Loughton (Conservative) receives £37,000 for advising a children’s services provider.
- Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative) provides “general advice” to an American mining firm, earning £36,000 a year.
- Andrew Percy (Conservative) receives £36,000 a year for advising a Canadian clean energy company for six hours a month.
- Khalid Mahmood (Labour) has committed up to 15 hours a month advising the Policy Exchange think tank on issues including extremism.
He receives a salary of £25,000 a year.
- Laurence Robertson (Conservative) advises the Betting and Gaming Council for £24,000 a year.
He is expected to commit 10 hours a month.
- Richard Fuller’s (Conservative) outside earnings include £20,000 as an advisory director of an investment company.
- Chair of the House of Commons justice committee Sir Bob Neill (Conservative) has been receiving almost £20,000 for two consultancy roles, including a law firm.
One of the roles ended earlier this year.
- Royston Smith (Conservative) has received £18,000 since May 2020 for 30 hours’ work as a consultant for a property company.
- Until earlier this year, Mark Pritchard (Conservative) was earning £18,000 a year for advice by the Consumer Credit Association.
- Sir Greg Knight (Conservative) advises a bank for £16,000 a year on “general business and public relations”.
- Until earlier this year, Ben Everitt (Conservative) committed 60 to 80 hours a year to advising the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales for £15,000.
- Andrew Bridgen (Conservative) offers political advice for £12,000 a year, to a company which grows teak in Ghana.
- Philip Davies (Conservative) earns £12,000 annually as a parliamentary adviser to the National Pawnbroking Association.
- Sir Graham Brady (Conservative) earns £10,000 a year for 12 hours’ work as a strategic adviser.
- Former universities minister Chris Skidmore (Conservative) provides advice on higher education for £10,000 a year.
- Paul Maynard (Conservative) earns £6,250 a year as a consultant to a banking services company.
He says his earnings go straight to charity.
- John Redwood (Conservative) is an adviser for a private equity fund, for which he earns £5,000.
- Until earlier this year, Andrew Lewer (Conservative) provided public policy advice to a property firm for £4,800 per year.
- Dean Russell (Conservative) has received just over £2,000 in 2021 as a consultant for a business training company.
Sir Geoffrey Cox (Conservative), who was attorney general during the height of the Brexit negotiations, has registered almost £900,000 in the last year for around 1,000 hours of legal work.
This included travelling to the British Virgin Islands to advise on a corruption inquiry.
He was there for a number of weeks, meaning he was carrying out his work as an MP – including voting – from the Caribbean.
More than 200 MPs have received earnings in the last year on top of their £81,932 annual salary.
The extra earnings range from £50 a year to almost £1million.
( Daniel Kraemer, 16.11.2021 ) .. bbc.co.uk
Conservative Party’s Alliance With Lobbying Group That Crashed The Economy.
Despite Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-budget, engineered by the free market ‘think tanks’ of Tufton Street, these same lobbying groups have retained their close proximity to the Conservative party.
The mini-budget, on September 23, 2022, saw $500billion wiped off UK markets as Truss and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng proposed a swathe of unfunded tax cuts for the rich.
Truss lasted just 50 days in the top job, with Kwarteng departing Number 11 a few days after his ‘pro-growth’ package had been revealed.
These reforms were widely seen as the culmination of the ideas conceived by the Tufton Street network, the opaquely-funded, libertarian groups that have clustered on this one street in Westminster.
As former Conservative advisor Tim Montgomerie said on the day of the mini-budget: “A massive moment for the IEA. They’ve been advocating these policies for years. They incubated Truss and Kwarteng during their early years as MPs. Britain is now their laboratory.”
Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) heralded the mini-budget immediately after its release, arguing that: “This isn’t a trickle-down budget, it’s a boost-up budget. The Government has announced a radical set of policies to increase Britain’s prosperity.”
He made no mention of the fact that the Government had entirely failed to explain how these measures would be paid for.
However, all the signs following this event have suggested that the Conservative Party has retained its intimacy with this radical libertarian offshoot.
( Sam Bright, 12.12.2022 ) .. bylinetimes.com