Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
Reported by Anna Flaherty
An Update on Brexit…
On 17th December 2018, Theresa May announced that MPs will not vote on the Brexit deal until the week commencing 14th January 2019. This vote was meant to take place last week but was delayed when May admitted she was going to lose said vote. In response to her announcement, Jeremy Corbyn stated that he would table a motion of no confidence in the prime minister, based on the delay. The motion was based on his view that a delay of another month was unacceptable. He continued by calling the current situation a “national crisis”. Corbyn’s motion is due to be tabled on Tuesday. It will call on MPs to declare that they have no confidence in the prime minister as a result of failing to give the parliament a meaningful vote right away in relation to the Brexit deal. With just over 14 weeks until the UK leaves the European Union, there seems to be no sense of the ‘strong and stable’ that we were promised in the general election.
Since yesterday’s debate, it has been announced that the cabinet will ramp up planning in case of a no-deal Brexit. If the prime minister’s deal does not go forth, there must be an alternative plan. This could potentially be a plan that follows the Norway or Canada model, it could involve restarting negotiations or having another referendum, or it could be a plan which works on the basis of the UK having a “managed no deal”. May has also announced that a series of MPs’ votes on Brexit option will be held. In these votes, alternatives and amendments to the Brexit deal will be decided upon. Let us hope that these actions are enough to prepare us by the end of the next 14 weeks.
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Reported by Dan James
Government Decides not to Ban Zero Hours Contracts
The government opted not to ban zero hours contracts as it begins to introduce what is claimed to be the biggest widespread change to employment law in over 20 years.
In the ‘Good Work Plan’, published on Monday, the government instead pledged to introduce a right for employees to request a fixed working pattern if they do not have one on completion of 26 weeks of working on a non-fixed pattern.
The report also goes on to say that the maximum amount that employment tribunals can order employers to pay employees should increase from £5,000 to £20,000.
Phil Pepper, an employment law partner at national firm Shakespeare Martineau, said the refusal to scrap the notorious zero-hours contract would suit employers who can ‘use workers in a more flexible way’.
‘The right to request fixed working should not affect those who prefer a non-fixed working pattern. The proposal is a right to request fixed working, not a mandatory right,’ he said.
Pledges to introduce legislation to give workers details of their rights from the first day in a job, including eligibility for sick leave, pay levels, maternity and paternity leave are also included in the publication.
Another area addressed by the publication is that of equal pay. The government said it would seek to abolish the ‘Swedish derogation’ model, which currently gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than permanent workers.
The Law Society president Christina Blacklaws commented: ‘We called for laws that would prevent workers from being underpaid, overworked or mistreated – measures published today should go a long way towards delivering that.’
The Business Secretary Greg Clark stated that ‘today’s largest upgrade in workers’ rights in over a generation is a key part of building a labour market that continues to reward people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and is boosting productivity and earning potential across the UK.’
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Reported by Nathan Gore
Trump Charity Foundation to Close Down
President Trump’s personal charitable foundation has agreed to close down, following judicial supervision and amid an ongoing lawsuit into the charity’s usage of finances.
The lawsuit, instigated by the Attorney General of New York State, Barbara Underwood, was launched following allegations of illegal misuse of funds by Donald Trump and others.
In addition to the shutting down of Trump’s charity, Ms Underwood said the case against Mr Trump and his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric would continue.
In a statement, she said there had been “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful co-ordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and wilful self-dealing, and much more”.
She continued: “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a chequebook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests.”
The agreement to dissolve, signed by both an attorney for the foundation and Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office, also allows the attorney general’s office to review the recipients of the charity’s assets. The foundation’s most recent tax return listed its net assets at slightly more than $1.7 million.
In a statement to the BBC, Trump Foundation lawyer Alan Futerfas – signatory to the deal closing the foundation – said: “Contrary to the NYAG’s [New York Attorney General] misleading statement… the foundation has been seeking to dissolve and distribute its remaining assets to worthwhile charitable causes since Donald J Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election.
“Unfortunately, the NYAG sought to prevent dissolution for almost two years, thereby depriving those most in need of nearly $1.7m.
“Over the past decade, the foundation is proud to have distributed approximately $19m, including $8.25m of the president’s personal money, to over 700 different charitable organisations with virtually zero expenses.
“The NYAG’s inaccurate statement of this morning is a further attempt to politicise this matter.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Trump mined his charity for “personal enrichment,” including using $100,000 from the nonprofit to settle legal claims against his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.