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Posts Tagged ‘GB’

Bayeux Tapestry to be displayed in Britain

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Artwork will leave France for first time since 11th century

The Bayeux Tapestry has only once been moved from Normandy since 1803

The first loan of the Bayeux Tapestry outside France for 950 years, revealed today by The Times, is expected to be to the British Museum in 2022.

Although the museum stopped short of confirming that it had secured the loan, its director gave a statement saying that his museum would welcome it.

Hartwig Fischer, who became head of the museum in 2016, said: “This would be a major loan, probably the most significant ever from France to the UK. It is a gesture of extraordinary generosity and proof of the deep ties that link our  two countries.

Brexit and Northern Ireland

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Brexit Countdown: Why is the Northern Ireland border question so hard?

The international border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is about 310 miles long with, depending on how many tracks you include, as many as 275 crossing points.

In reality, the entire border is a crossing point because, apart from road signs changing from miles per hour to kilometres per hour, there is no physical infrastructure to see.

The concern is that all that could change when the UK leaves the European Union, and Ireland stays as an EU member state.

Why can’t there be a hard border?

Irish border sign

Part of the concern is political. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the basic building block of peace in Northern Ireland, removed security checkpoints from the border and helped make it all but invisible. Customs checks could undermine much of that progress.

Like many peace deals, the Good Friday Agreement is a masterpiece of creative ambiguity, allowing different people to take different things from different parts of the text.

Shared membership of the European Union made that much easier to achieve. Ireland wants a clear written commitment that the agreement will be respected in all its parts.

The other concern of course is economic. The economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic are completely interconnected. Huge amounts of goods and services cross the border every day without checks of any kind.

Brexit negotiators are currently looking through more than 140 areas of north-south co-operation, involving everything from the single electricity market to environmental protection.

It is also estimated that at least 30,000 people cross the border every day for work. The movement of people is governed by the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland, which predates the EU.

Both sides are determined that the Common Travel Area will remain in place, but that in itself doesn’t resolve the challenge of a hard border re-emerging.

So if no-one thinks a hard border is a good idea, why can’t everyone agree now that it won’t be re-imposed?

Because the UK has announced that it is leaving the EU single market and the customs union. That immediately turns the internal border in Ireland into an external border for the single market and the customs union – with all the potential checks that implies.

At the moment, all rules and regulations, north and south, are exactly the same – on food safety, on animal welfare… you name it.

Again, it’s a relationship based in large part on agreements covered by joint membership of the EU. As soon as that changes, border checks may have to begin again.

That’s why the Irish government wants a written guarantee from the UK that Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules – so goods can continue to move freely across the border.

“It seems essential to us,” said the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney earlier this month, “that there is no emergence of regulatory divergence from the rules of the internal market or the customs unions which are necessary for meaningful north-south co-operation, or an all-Ireland economy that is consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.”

In other words, both Ireland and the rest of the EU are suggesting that Northern Ireland should stay within the customs union and the single market.

But there would have to be checks somewhere between the EU and the UK, wouldn’t there?

Yes. It would – in effect – push the customs border out into the Irish Sea… an internal customs border, if you like, between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Would that be acceptable to the UK government, or to its Unionist political allies in Northern Ireland, the DUP? In a word, no.

“We respect the European Union desire to protect the legal order of the single market and customs union,” the UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis said in Brussels recently.

“But that cannot come at a cost to the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Couldn’t the UK simply declare the border open on a unilateral basis, and impose no checks or tariffs at all?

If it did that then, under World Trade Organization rules, it would have to do the same for the rest of the world. The UK economy would be swamped with cheap imports.

The EU would impose checks anyway which might allow the UK government to shift the blame on to Brussels. But that would be a pretty futile gesture.

So is there a solution?

Irish border

If it was easy, it would already have been done.

The EU argues that the UK’s red lines on Ireland – no border on the one hand, and UK exit from the single market and the customs union on the other – are fundamentally incompatible.

The British government has spoken of technological fixes such as pre-screening of goods, and trusted trader schemes.

The EU says such things could speed up border transit, but it would be nowhere near enough to avoid the return of some border checks.

Alternatively, Irish officials argue that there are already cases of rules and regulations being different in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK, and they point to other examples such as Hong Kong in China where there are different regulatory arrangements within sovereign states.

Intense negotiations are taking place to try to come up with a solution that would ensure a) no divergence of regulations in key areas; and b) the creation of some form of customs partnership on the island of Ireland, which doesn’t threaten the constitutional order of the UK.

But if a fix emerges that seems to turn Northern Ireland into a back door route into the single market, then other EU countries will cry foul.

So even if all parties agree in the next two weeks that “sufficient progress” on Ireland has been made, there will be a long way to go before any kind of lasting solution emerges.

The Queen and Prince Phillip pose for official photo ahead of 70th wedding anniversary

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

The Queen and Prince Phillip pose for official photo ahead of 70th wedding anniversary

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been pictured standing side by side in the first of a new series of portraits to mark their 70th wedding anniversary.

The photographs, taken by British photographer Matt Holyoak, show Elizabeth II and Prince Philip standing in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle in early November.

In the image, the couple are framed by Thomas Gainsborough’s 1781 portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, who were married for 57 years.

Their enduring relationship has lasted the longest of any British sovereign, and Philip has been at the Queen’s side throughout the decades.

The monarch, who was a 21-year-old princess when she walked up the aisle, is the nation’s longest reigning sovereign, having overtaken the record set by Queen Victoria.

The 96-year-old newly retired Duke, who was 26 and fresh from serving for the Royal Navy in the Second World War when he wed, is the longest serving consort in British history.

Together they have celebrated the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees of the Queen’s reigns, and faced ups and downs over the years.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

on Wednesday, September 9 Queen Elizabeth will become Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and Kelloggs will celebrate it !

Are Queen Flakes the poshest cereal ever made?
(Picture: Kellogg's)

Monarchy money

Friday, January 31st, 2014

In a recession, what price the monarchy? Most workers have had wages frozen for the past two years, and the cost of living has risen, so many are worse off in real terms. For the Royal Family, it’s a different story – George Osborne awarded the Queen a 5.2% rise (around £2 million) from next April, giving her an annual income of £37.9 million.  In return, her finances are subject to public scrutiny – and it seems that the Royal Household isn’t good at balancing their books – overspending by £2.3 million last year.

The Royal palaces are falling into disrepair and there’s only £1 million left in the kitty to patch things up. What’s to be done? At present, Buckingham Palace is only open for two months of the year – and it’s well known that the Queen loathes staying there, preferring to be based at Windsor (even with jets flying overhead).

Windsor Castle: The Queen’s favoured residenceShe also spends lengthy periods at the two huge country estates she owns, Balmoral and Sandringham. Buckingham Palace is used for official banquets and investitures, and when I attended a buffet lunch for successful women a few years ago, there might have been Old Masters on the walls,
but in the fireplaces were ugly two bar electric fires, the kind of thing my mum threw out in 1960.

By the way, we now have the third most expensive monarchy in Europe, after Norway and the Netherlands. Spain seems a bargain at £6.8 million a year. Mind you, the French presidency costs taxpayers a staggering £91 million – and they don’t even have a figurehead who wears fabulous clothes and a priceless crown!

I’ve got two simple ways for the Queen to cut costs – they are radical, but would send the right message to the electorate. Option one – all the Royals could live together in one London base. At present, they occupy Clarence House, St James’ Palace, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace, meaning unnecessary duplication of security staff, cleaners, cooks, butlers, gardeners and footmen. Let them all fill up Buckingham Palace in one Royal Commune, they’d hardly run into each other. One kitchen for all. One centralized clothing care facility. One garage. A nursery for royal babies. You know it makes sense. The other palaces can be sold off or opened as tourist attractions. They all have country piles to spend the weekends in anyway.

Option two – the Queen could vacate Buckingham Palace altogether, and be based at Windsor, where investitures and banquets can take place. Then Buck House can be turned into a visitor attraction and conference centre, state rooms open all year round, along with the gallery. Weddings can take place in the chapel with brides paying extra for their Diana moment on the balcony (£1,000 for ten minutes). The kitchens can cater for big events, at a price.

The Queen is essential for tourism, but in the age of the theme park she needs experts to turn this white elephant into a money-spinner.



Fines for non-payment of minimum wage quadruple to £20,000

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

BTS students please read here + VIDEO at the end of the orginal article

English pupils ‘less tolerant on immigration’

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

School pupils in England have less tolerant attitudes to immigration, and are less interested in news than their international peers, a study finds. The research showed a hardening of attitudes on immigrants, jail sentences and benefit payments as students in England got older. The National Foundation for Educational Research also found that English pupils’ knowledge of the EU was poor.

But it found that regular citizenship classes could raise civic involvement.

The research tracked the attitudes of some 24,000 pupils over nine years, as they aged from 11 to 18.

It showed that over time, the cohort experienced a hardening of attitudes towards refugees and immigrants, jail sentences and benefit payments. It also showed their trust in politicians declined.

The researchers also compared the attitudes of English teenagers with those of their international counterparts.

This revealed that English pupils had attitudes which were “broadly democratic and tolerant”, the study said.

But “their tolerance of immigration is well below the international average and their view of European migration is particularly critical,” the researchers said.

English pupils had a “low” level of interest in social and political issues, the study found.

The report’s authors noted that this is an international trend, but that English young people had a level of news media interest significantly below the international average.

Pupils in England scored significantly above average in the international test of civic knowledge and understanding when compared to all participating countries.

But when compared only to their European counterparts, their performance was average.

Their knowledge of the European Union was significantly below that of other pupils in Europe, with English pupils scoring the worst on many questions of all 24 member states that took part in the study.

Pupils in England had a strong sense of national identity, which outweighed their sense of European identity.

The report’s authors noted that this is an international trend, but that English young people had a level of news media interest significantly below the international average.

Pupils in England scored significantly above average in the international test of civic knowledge and understanding when compared to all participating countries.

But when compared only to their European counterparts, their performance was average.

Their knowledge of the European Union was significantly below that of other pupils in Europe, with English pupils scoring the worst on many questions of all 24 member states that took part in the study.

Pupils in England had a strong sense of national identity, which outweighed their sense of European identity.

‘Weakening attachment’

The research also showed a weakening of English pupils’ attachment to their communities at local, national and European level, although their attachment to their school communities remained strong.

Trust in social, civil and political institutions also remained high, although 33% reported in the latest survey that they do not trust politicians “at all” – up from 20% at age 11.

The findings indicated that when citizenship education learning is delivered in slots of more than 45 minutes per week on a regular basis, it can improve young people’s chances of positive involvement in civic activities.

It also suggested that this can lead to young people feeling more able to make a difference to their communities.

Citizenship became compulsory for pupils aged 11 to 16 in September 2002 and a GCSE is available in the subject.

In the citizenship classes, young people learn about democracy and justice, the structure of political systems and how to function in that structure.

Curriculum shake-up

But Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he wants to slim down the national curriculum.

On Sunday he told the BBC that “hundreds of pages of prescription” aimed at teachers would be removed.

The Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) last month said it understood that citizenship will be made non-statutory in the coming curriculum shake-up.

It fears this will mean the end for a subject which, it says, chimes with the Conservatives’ “Big Society” idea.

The government said it had not decided the future status of any subject.

Millicent Scott, Development Manager at the ACT said citizenship education, when taught well, equipped young people with the skills to appreciate the intricacies of controversial issues:

“The future health of British democracy will only be secure if we have an active, engaged electorate who participate in public life. Citizenship education supports the development of these skills.”

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said citizenship classes were “a very important part of education” But she said many schools struggle to find sufficient time to teach it properly. “Also, as the report suggests, teachers need to have access to training in order to be able to teach the subject effectively,” she added.

Citizenship education is statutory in some form in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and is one of the national priorities for education in Scotland.

Pupils in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland were not included in the study.

a new Prime Minister for Great Britain

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

David Cameron is Britain’s new Prime Minister. The photo shows him shaking hands with the Queen, who invited him to become prime minister following Gordon Brown’s resignation and the agreement between  Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to form a coalition government.

La reine a confirmé le conservateur David Cameron au poste de premier ministre, mardi 11 mai.

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Gordon Brown resigned. Speaking outside No 10, he said: “I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future.

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General Election / Tout savoir sur les élections au Royaume-Uni

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Tout savoir sur les elections britanniques, c’est ici !

Une petite révision sur le système politique britannique :

The General Election debate

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
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