Displaying items by tag: Politics
Downing Street has refused to guarantee that HS2 will run to Manchester as planned. Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are in talks about scrapping the project’s second phase due to spiralling costs and delays. The prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters that ‘spades are already in the ground on our HS2 programme, and we are focused on delivering it’. Asked whether Mr Sunak was committed to the line going to Manchester, he said: ‘We are looking at the rephasing of the work in the best interests of passengers and taxpayers’. Northern leaders reacted with fury to the news. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham accused ministers of ‘making the north pay for their failure’. The high-speed railway, currently under construction between London and Birmingham, has already had its leg to Leeds cut and faces uncertainty about its approach into central London.
Last month we prayed for water quality to be improved and managed before protected areas are built upon. This week the House of Lords blocked the Government's plan to relax restrictions on water pollution to encourage house building in England. Governments often lose votes in the House of Lords, but what makes this one stand out is that ministers can't revive this plan easily. Because it is a new idea, parliamentary procedure means the only way to have another go would be attaching it to another proposed law, or bill. This is a row that gets to the heart of one of the biggest issues in contemporary domestic politics. Building more homes in England in places people want to live. Labour plans to solve environmental concerns by letting developers build but ensuring they have sorted out the environmental issues before anyone can move into the new homes.
Prime minister Viktor Orbán believes Europe can be saved if it returns to its ‘real values, its Christian identity.’ He said, ‘We Hungarians believe that Christian culture is the cornerstone that holds the architecture of European civilisation in place’. Hungary differs from Europe in its attitude to illegal immigrants. While resisting the influx, it tries to help people to live and thrive in their own countries by rebuilding schools, hospitals and dwellings in troubled parts of the world and providing education at Hungarian universities for young people. Orbán has said, ‘Hungarian people and their government believe that Christian virtues provide peace and happiness to those who practise them. This legacy obliges us to protect Christian communities persecuted across the world as far as we are able.’ Hungary also bans the teaching of homosexuality in schools, which Emmanuel Macron says is ‘not in line with Europe’s values and what Europe is’. The country has moved from Soviet domination through post-communist chaos to Christian democracy.
President Biden's son, Hunter, has been criminally charged with three counts of lying when buying a firearm, after a proposed plea deal collapsed. This is the first time the child of a sitting president has been criminally prosecuted. All three counts relate to Mr Biden allegedly lying on forms while buying a firearm when he was a drug user. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, the justice department said in a statement. The younger Mr Biden's legal woes have become a political lightning rod as his father seeks re-election. Earlier this week, Republicans in the House of Representatives announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden: among the accusations being levelled against him are that he lied about his involvement in his son's business dealings while serving as vice-president. Two Internal Revenue Service investigators have also claimed that the justice department stymied their investigation into Hunter Biden's tax return.
The Catholic Union, Christian Institute, and Evangelical Alliance have written to the chair of the human rights committee, asking for religious freedom to be a ‘key part’ of a parliamentary inquiry into human rights at work. Catholic Union director Nigel Parker says that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a faithful Catholic in many workplaces in this country, and his concerns are shared by people from other denominations and other faiths. A Catholic Union survey found that almost five in ten workers do not feel able to talk about their faith openly with colleagues, with 41% of respondents saying they didn’t believe religious discrimination was given the same weight as age, race, sex, and sexuality discrimination. Although the inquiry's focus includes ‘freedom of thought, conscience, and religion’, they worry this won’t receive enough attention. They want a separate session discussing religious freedom at work to help shape the final recommendations for the Government.
The Government refused to attend a UN review of its treatment of disabled people after an inquiry warned of grave violations of disabled people’s rights. The UN report found welfare reforms had adversely affected disabled people. The UK's delegation should have gone to the Geneva hearing on 28 August to assess their progress, but the Government pulled out, saying it would meet UN officials in March 2024 instead, sparking anger from campaigners. The UK published responses to the UN's recommendations in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and was to give a further update this year. After its no-show there were feedback sessions with British disability rights groups who complained, ‘No one from the Government heard the facts and stories of increasing poverty, lack of support, inaccessible services, and an infrastructure that limited the life chances of disabled people’.
Recently we have seen waves of Islamic unrest across France; Muslims engaging in street skirmishes in Spain; and Muslim migrant-related assaults in Germany. Hundreds of Muslims in an English mosque, holding Qurans high, have pledged their allegiance to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and praised martyrs who ‘bled red’ for the ‘axis of resistance’. Two Austrian Muslim teenagers confessed that they intended to attack a Christian school and ‘restore the caliphate’. When confronted in court on 16 July, they admitted, ‘We wanted to shoot all the Christians in the classes.’ When asked what they would do if police intervened, they said they would have surrendered: ‘Allah forgives, and killing Christians takes us to paradise’. Meanwhile, Sweden has elevated the threat level from three to four on a scale of five due to recent Quran burnings.
Georgia prosecutors have charged Donald Trump and 18 others with attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss. Trump is facing thirteen new charges, including racketeering. Racketeering is organised crime where someone makes money through illegal activities. Penalties are prison terms - five to twenty years, or £197,000 fines - which can help persuade subordinates to cut deals with the prosecution in exchange for lesser sentences. Organised criminal activity is prosecuted under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (Rico) Act; this includes convicting mafia bosses. When the court proceedings take place, they will dominate the next presidential election - making it a campaign unlike any other.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Kukah of Sokoto, who criticised previous governments’ failure to curb extremist violence and protect Christians, welcomed the new president, Bola Tinubu, and vice-president, Kashim Mustapha, despite fears over them both being Muslims. Bishop Kukah said he has known Tinubu for 20 years and has worked with Kashim Shettima. Referring to the fact that Tinubu is married to a Christian, Shettima said a man who has not Islamised his family will not Islamise Nigeria. Bishop Kukah stressed that politicians should not be assessed by their religion but by their capacity and competence and how they see justice, fairness, and equity, adding ‘Of course, I would like a Catholic president, but he would not govern Catholics, he would govern Nigeria.
The Illegal Migration bill is central to stopping small boats crossing the Channel. A Lords sitting on the Bill branded it disgraceful and made changes. On 12 July MPs rejected those changes. Theresa May said the bill would consign more people to slavery. Many Tories wanted a different approach. But they could not stop MPs rejecting the Lords amendments. The bill now returns to the Lords for more marathon voting sessions. The Lords amendments are backed by figures including Justin Welby. The Salvation Army said, ‘The UK risks undermining our world-leading system of protections and lifesaving services for vulnerable victims of crime. These include people tricked into coming to the UK illegally and under false pretences, to be exploited in our farms, factories, and building sites or trapped and traded in brothels and even homes.’ Should the bill become law, victims will lose vital protection. MPs will debate it again next week.