Here are this week’s headlines:
- Trump: Week One
Trump’s first week in office
US President, Donald Trump, has had his first week in office and has already made some huge changes across the pond.
Earlier in the week, Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership – an agreement between the US and 11 other states, including Canada and Australia, which aims make trade easier and more desirable between the states. Now that the US is no longer a part of the agreement, it means that it will cost more to import from and export to the US. Trump has said that is to ensure American business and manufacturers are “put first” before foreign ones.
Trump has also reinstated the ‘Mexico City Policy’ which means that taxpayers money can no longer be used to fund non-governmental bodies who provide access to abortions and services related to them.
In the latter parts of the week, Trump signed an executive order to codify the building of the wall between the US and Mexico – the wall is going to be built. It is not yet clear, however, whether Trump is going to foot the bill to the Mexican authorities.
Keep up-to-date with Trump and the US in The Independent.
- Parliament must vote on triggering Article 50
Supreme Court decides Parliament must vote to trigger Article 50
This case is of great importance to everyone, and for those studying public law, this case has much constitutional significance. It prevents Theresa May from using the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50, and says that MPs must vote to do so. Three of the eleven judges dissented from the decision, discussing how Judges should not get so involved with the politics and that this should be left to the Government.
The court also decided that the devolved countries would have no say in the matter, upsetting the SNP in particular. The party has threatened that they will be demanding 50 amendments of the Article 50 bill. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have said that they will vote against the bill unless a second referendum is held. However, David Davis has already ruled this possibility out. Even within May’s own party, MPs have been demanding clarification as to the Brexit plan, and so in response the Government will be publishing a Brexit White Paper.
Overall the result of the case has created greater legal certainty to the British exit from the EU, and is unlikely to prevent it from happening. Many Labour MP’s have indicated that they will support the Article 50 bill, emphasising the fact that the will of the people must be respected despite the result of the case. Thursday’s legislation brought before the House of Commons hopes to soon begin formal talks on leaving the EU.
- Prison suicide numbers were up in 2016
Ministry of Justice announce increase in prison suicides in 2016
The Ministry of Justice have released statistics for 2016 which show suicides, assaults and inmate’s self-harming have risen. In 2016, 119 inmates in England and Wales committed suicide which is an increase of 32% on 2015 figures. The 2016 statistics are equivalent to one inmate committing suicide every three days and demonstrate a substantial increase since the previous high of 96 deaths in 2004. Moreover, the Ministry of Justice figures have revealed jail suicides have doubled since 2012.
The suicide figures include 12 females and calculate as individual’s being 8.6 times more likely to commit suicide in custody than in the general population. In addition to suicides, the figures show assaults and self-harm in penal institutions have risen. According to ‘safety in custody’ statistics, there has been a 40% rise in assaults on prisoner officers by inmates and a 28% increase on prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. Additionally, a 23% increase in self-harming incidents means 37,784 self-harming incidents have been recorded for 2016.
The increased figures reflect the ageing profile of prison populations; notably sex offenders with lengthy sentences. Elizabeth Truss, the justice secretary, “Since becoming Justice Secretary, I have been clear that the violence, self-harm and deaths in our prisons are too high. I have taken immediate action to stabilise the estate by tackling the drugs, drones and phones that undermine security. We are also investing £100m annually to boost the frontline by 2,500 officers. These are longstanding issues that will not be resolved in weeks or months but our wholescale reforms will lay the groundwork to transform our prisons, reduce reoffending and make our communities safer.”
Professor Pamela Taylor, of the Royal College for Psychiatrists Forensic Faculty commented “The prison service is in crisis following a 40% cut in the number of prison officers, and mental health teams are struggling to help prisoners in desperate need. In many cases, there is no one available to escort prisoners to in-prison clinics from time to time, even when a psychiatrist goes to a prisoner’s cell, as there are not enough prison officers present and the cell door can’t be unlocked for safety reasons.”
Read more in The Guardian.
- UK economy has grown
UK economy grows by 0.6%
The U.K. economy grew 0.6% from October to December, which follows on from the trend in the previous quarter. These figures have been published from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This clearly shows that the anticipated slowdown of the U.K. economy due to the Brexit vote has not showed up in official data.
This growth in the economy is supported by strong consumer spending and the overall expansion of the dominant services sector. However, Lee Holey, a chief economist stated that there are challenges to be faced in 2017. He said “Consumers won’t be ramping up spending thanks to rising inflation and sluggish wage growth, and businesses’ appetite to sign off big investments will depend on how they view the progress of Brexit negotiations.”
Chancellor Phillip Hammond stated “There may be uncertainty ahead as we adjust to a new relationship with Europe, but we are ready to seize the opportunities to create a competitive economy that works for all.”
Although this shows the U.K. overcoming fears presented by Brexit, we will still need to wait and see the implications of Brexit overall.