Blog Archives

Brexit – advantage the already rich: John Buchan, Jeremy Corbyn and Private Eye

John Buchan, 1915: Financiers can make big profits on a falling market and it suits their books to set Europe by the ears.

Jeremy Corbyn, March 2017; the Tories’ hard Brexit’ will benefit super rich and hold back millions.

Private Eye, 6.10.17: investors could swoop on cheap assets after Brexit wrecks the British economy

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Jeremy Corbyn opened in I News:

When Pret A Manger opened its first sandwich shop in 1986, I doubt many of us would have expected well-known high street chains to end up trying to pay their staff in leftovers. But that’s exactly what’s happened. Last week, Pret had to abandon plans for a work experience scheme paying 16-18 year olds only with food after a public outcry.

A taste of things to come . . .

It was an even faster U-turn than Tory chancellor Philip Hammond’s reversal of an increase in National Insurance for the self-employed – also after an outcry. Both the Hammond and the Pret sagas look like a taste of things to come. The not-so-hidden agenda of hard right Brexiteers, from trade secretary Liam Fox to foreign secretary Boris Johnson, is to create a bargain basement economy for big business.

In 2012, Fox said it is “too difficult to hire and fire” and “intellectually unsustainable to believe that workplace rights should remain untouchable”. Employment rights under threat Now that Article 50 has been triggered, Fox has his chance to sweep away decades of hard-won employment, consumer and environmental rights enshrined in EU law. In fact that’s exactly the direction Theresa May has made clear she intends to go if she can’t get the Brexit deal she wants – and Johnson has said not getting a deal is “perfectly okay”.

The Tories are preparing a Great Repeal Bill as part of the Brexit process, and all the signs are they will try to use it to tip the economic scales even further in favour of their super-rich supporters. They have after all spent the past seven years giving them one tax break after another while imposing austerity on everyone else.

Altogether, on official figures, they will have handed out £73bn in welfare for the wealthy between now and 2022. They have cut inheritance tax, the bank levy, capital gains tax, the top rate of income tax and corporation tax – squeezing or slashing support for the NHS, social care and other vital services.

While the earnings of working people have been held back, executive pay has soared to levels beyond most people’s wildest dreams. The chief executives of the top 100 companies on the London Stock Market were paid on average £5.5m each in 2015 – that’s 183 times average earnings.

The Conservatives justify tax cuts for the richest and big business by saying they will lead to an increase in investment. But there is no evidence of that.

On the contrary, investment in the UK has fallen, leaving us with antiquated infrastructure and uncompetitive industries. The future of our country cannot be left to the free market and the whims of the wealthy.

 

 

 

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The corporate–political nexus: Dr Fox, it is important to avoid even the impression of collusion

Hansard records the question:  

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times he has met Adam Werritty 

(a)   in total and

(b)   in his Department’s main building since May 2010. [71541] 

Dr Fox [holding answer 13 September 2011]: I have met Mr Werritty 14 times at the Ministry of Defence Main Building over the last 16 months but not in an official capacity. 

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions Adam Werritty has travelled with him on overseas visits since May 2010. [71542] 

Dr Fox [holding answer 13 September 2011]: Mr Werritty is not an employee of the Ministry of Defence and has, therefore, not travelled with me on any official overseas visits. 

Fox prevaricates

That answer could be described as literally correct, but Adam Werrity was in Dr Fox’s ‘entourage’ when he met senior Sri Lankan ministers during an official visit to Sri Lanka in July. 

Note

Although he has no formal government role, Werrity is said to carry a business card embossed with a House of Commons portcullis logo that describe him as an “adviser to Rt Hon Dr Fox MP”. 

It is alleged that when Fox became shadow defence secretary from 2005 Werrity ran a “security company” and accompanied Fox on high profile meetings to the US, the Middle East and Sri Lanka. The Guardian reports that he was also involved in a health company while Fox was shadow health secretary. 

MOD denial

Though Mr Werrity is seen in a group photograph [Guardian], the MoD has denied that Werritty was there and insisted he did not accompany Fox during any official meetings. 

Atlantic Bridge: dissolved after a critical report from the Charities Commission

Fox and Werrity served on the executive board of Atlantic Bridge, an alliance of UK & US ‘like-minded conservatives’. This organisation has featured in many reports on the Fox-Werrity issue and is described on the Powerbase website. This is reported to have been dissolved as a charity on September 31 in the light of a critical report from the Charities Commission.

The Press Association reports that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that Dr Fox has asked his most senior official, Permanent Secretary Ursula Brennan, to look into what he describes as “baseless allegations” concerning Adam Werritty.