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Westminster and Holyrood lock horns over Continuity Bill

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Continuity Bill

The UK and Scottish governments are sparring over a verdict delivered by Supreme Court judges who ruled that parts of Scotland’s Brexit legislation would not be allowed to stand. The judges said the Continuity Bill “as a whole” was within Holyrood’s scope, but that MSPs had acted outside their powers in relation to one section.

The Scottish Parliament passed its own Brexit bill in March after a row with UK ministers over Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill. But the case was then referred to the court by UK government law officers.

The judges also ruled that changes which were later made to the UK legislation whereby a special schedule of protected legislation was added, preventing MSPs from modifying them – meant a further 21 provisions now could not stand.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the court had “provided much-needed legal clarity” and that the bill “goes beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.

But Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell claimed the UK government had “changed the rules of the game midway through the match” in an “act of constitutional vandalism”.

The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill– known as the “continuity bill” – was passed in the Scottish Parliament with only the Conservatives and a single Lib. Dem. MSP voting against it.

It was drafted as an alternative to Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which MSPs refused to give their consent to following a row over how powers currently exercised from Brussels will be used after Brexit. However, Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh wrote a memo saying the bill was “not within the legislative ambit of the parliament”.

This was denied by the Scottish government’s legal advisers, but paved the way for UK law officers to apply to the Supreme Court to provide “legal clarity” about its validity.

A two-day hearing was held in London in July, with the UK government arguing that the bill must be rescinded. However, the Scottish government’s case was backed by lawyers from the Welsh and Northern Irish governments.

Supreme Court Judge, Lady Hale rejected many of the UK government’s arguments – but found that parts of the bill were invalid.

She further added: “the whole of the Scottish bill would not be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament”, but that one section – relating to MSPs having to give consent for UK Brexit laws – was not within the scope of the Scottish Parliament.

She also pointed out that the UK government had subsequently made changes to its legislation which added certain provisions to a protected schedule of the Scotland Act as soon as it became a law, meaning it cannot be altered by MSPs.

This means the Continuity Bill was largely valid when it was passed by MSPs in March, but a number of sections now could not stand.

Russell added that: “This is an act of constitutional vandalism but that does not take away from the fact this judgment makes clear MSPs were perfectly entitled to prepare Scotland’s laws for Brexit at the time this bill was passed.”

Mundell said this was “quite wrong”, insisting that it had “always been clear” what the UK legislation would do.

He argued that plans to protect the UK legislation from modification by MSPs were drafted in 2017, and that amendments made after the Holyrood bill had passed were just an extension of this process.

The court ruling suggests that the EU Withdrawal Act remains the sole basis on which Scotland’s statute order will be prepared for Brexit. MSPs however, could bring the continuity bill back for reconsideration at Holyrood, provided they take action on the areas highlighted by the Supreme Court. In light of disunity between Tories, the Scotts would find it rather difficult to convincingly implement provisions of the continuity bill as per their own demands.

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ISIS ‘Poster Girl’ Shamima Begum calls Manchester Bombing ‘Justified’

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Shamima Begum

Shamima Begum is the name on everybody’s lips. A young girl, who radicalised in England and joined ISIS, now wants to return to the UK and bring up her baby girl.

British politicians and the army are in heavy debate. There are no clear rules about ISIS members coming home and how to handle it. The public is divided too. Yet after Shamima Begum’s latest statements on the Manchester bombing in 2017, it seems clear she is not very welcomed in the country.

The Manchester bombings took place during Ariana Grande’s concert. 22 people were killed, including children. While Shamima, who may well have been an Ariana Grande fan herself, feels it is awful that innocent people lost their lives, however, she also said the bombing was fairly justified. 

“It’s kind of retaliation,” she told the BBC. “Their justification was that it was retaliation so I thought, okay, that is a fair justification.”

Shamima Begum had left the UK 4 years ago at the age of 15 to join the terror group ISIS. Shamima said she was “okay” with the ISIS’ brutal methods of killing people, including beheading. Another statement that might not go well with the citizens of the UK, as many British journalists and others have lost their lives at the hands of ISIS.

Shamima Begum wants to come home. She is legally British and has asked for forgiveness and sympathy. If she returns to England, she will be returning with her newborn baby, who was born in a Syrian refugee camp a few days back. Apparently, she also had two other children in Syria, both of whom have died.

Shamima insists she never wanted to be an ISIS ‘poster child’ and still has strong feelings about Britain. She initially left for Syria with other teen girls, all from the Bethnal Green Academy. Shamima married an ISIS fighter and has spent four years in Syria.

It is unclear what would happen to the British ISIS fighters, who are either in captivity or in refugee camps. The war in Syria is almost over with the defeat of ISIS imminent. Many fighters want to come home, and US President Donald Trump has asked Britain and the EU to take back their fighters, who have been captured in Syria, and put them on trial.

As per Home Secretary Sajid Javid, for anyone backing terror, the consequences are real. Shamima Begum, even though she was a teenager when she left Britain, must face consequences, especially, when she holds little remorse over the Manchester attack.

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What’s Magnetizing Saudi to Bid for Manchester United Time and Again?

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Saudi Arabia bids to buy Manchester United, premier league

Rumours about Saudi’s bid of taking over the Premier League Club, Manchester United, keep coming out in the media. Recently, it was reported that Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) offered £3.8bn takeover bid of the club.

However, in a statement on Monday the nation dismissed its plans of taking over the club. The news is “completely untrue,” Saudi information minister Turki Alshabanah wrote on Twitter.

According to the sources, “The club held a meeting with the Public Investment Fund to discuss an advertising sponsorship project, and the Fund listened to the proposals as any investment and did not produce any results,” Turki Alshabanah said.

Despite that it cannot be said for how long can Saudi stick by its guns. Even back in October last year, the Kingdom made an offer to acquire the club, but could not capitalize on the opportunity following the claims of murdering Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The Need of the Hour

Managing image in the West has been the Kingdom’s topmost priority for a very long time. Even as recently as last week the Journal reported that the nation’s collaboration with the Western media was exposed hoaxing MbS’ reform.

The Crown Prince had reportedly signed a deal with Vice Media, under which the media house was directed to produce documentaries and influence the Western nations.

Manchester United has bagged the coveted Premier League Trophy 13 times, more than any other club in the history, and maybe this is what brings the Saudis to the table. The club is currently owned by Glazer family, who purchased it in 2005 for £790million.

Besides, Saudi’s close aide and long-time ally, UAE, has successfully been spreading their message of positivity all over the world using football as a tool.

This is especially the case because the City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, belongs to the royal family of Abu Dhabi. Together with Khaldoon al-Mubark, his youthful executive and advisor to royal family, he holds the key to delegate how the management works.

In fact, UAE doesn’t stop here, the Emirate has found its own City Football Group (CFG) and it owns or co-owns six clubs across four continents. The group, as reported by the Guardian, has contracted more than 240 male professionals, and two dozen women.

The UAE’s bridge to the West is exactly what the Kingdom aims at replicating by trying to reach Manchester United. Therefore, the probability of owning the club to promote the national image is still on the cards for them.

Conversely, Saudi-UAE have raged a war against humanity in Yemen, killing more than 10,000 people. Both nations have also continuously faced the heat over the detention of human right activists, and for barring people to express what’s right. However, big strides in the West aimed at fixing and building reputation is what the two gulf nations have continuously worked on.

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UK Outraged by Trump’s Threat of Releasing 800 ISIS Fighters

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trump

The US forces fighting in Syria captured some 800 ISIS fighters that it wants the EU to take into custody, not doing which will result in their release. The threat came from US President Donald Trump who has been exceptionally vocal about his views, even though bizarre, especially on Twitter. The threat has left most of the European officials angered while others, a bit confused in disappointment. The said reaction was witnessed recently at the Munich Security Conference, held in Germany. The event saw European officials and security experts outraging over Trump’s statement on releasing 800 ISIS fighters on EU’s failure in taking them back.

While other countries of the likes of France, have come forward with the solution of taking back their ex-Jihadists, UK, on the other hand has shown resistance. The UK government has especially expressed the confusion, keeping in mind the wives and children of the fighters who pose challenge in the decision making. Therefore, the government is now uncertain about releasing a final verdict on the fighters, whether or not to prosecute them.

Another option considered is to ensure stopping the fighters from carrying out any sort of terrorist activity in their home country. Meanwhile, another condition put forth by the UK government for taking back fighters is for them to get consular help in Turkey.

The tweet in question that is said to have started the entire issue read, “The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Isis fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”

Foreign Secretary of UK, Jeremy Hunt as said in one of his previous interviews to an Arab media that his government is not planning to send across anymore military forces to fight in Syria. However, Hunt also emphasized on the fact that he will entertain all of US’ request.

ISIS militants have been preventing 1000’s of civilians from leaving the region, according to a Syrian Defence Force spokesperson. Shamima Begum, 19, is the latest and amongst the three Briton schoolgirls who fled the UK in 2015, joining the ISIS. Shamima then reportedly fled the enclave and was found recently in the al-Hawl refugee camp. The remarks made by President Trump about releasing ISIS fighters came at the time of an enormous transatlantic squabble going on between the military and politicians about the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from the north-west Syrian region.

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