For the good of Europe, we need to #StopBorrell

According to Wikipedia, Josep Borrell Fontelles is a Spanish or Catalan politician (depending on which language you are reading in), member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and, since June 2018, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation in the Spanish Government.

With a long and colourful career behind him, Borrell looks set to add another top job to his CV, as it was announced this week that he was the European Council’s choice for the role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in the 2019-2024 European Commission.

The high representative is the head of the European Union’s diplomatic corps, the 28 member states’ collective representative on the world stage. Initially created in 1999 under the Treaty of Amsterdam, with an enlarged portfolio under the Treaty of Lisbon, Borrell is set to become the fourth person to hold the post, the second from the Iberian Peninsula, following in the footsteps of Spain’s Javier Solana (1999-2009), the UK’s Catherine Ashton (2009-2014) and the incumbent Federica Mogherini of Italy (2014-).

As Charlemagne notes in The Economist, “Borrell will be the most heavyweight figure to serve as high representative”, by implication adding to the prestige of the position. And yet, paradoxically, if the European Union is serious about listening to the popular impetus for change expressed in May’s elections, if they want to be taken seriously in global diplomatic circles, and if they are serious about cleaning their image, it is imperative Josep Borrell is not appointed to the role of high representative.

It is imperative we #StopBorrell

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Jordi Cuixart: Let the impotence of the sentence become hope

On Thursday, Jordi Cuixart, the President of Omnium Cultural, wrote a letter to all members of the Catalan association which was published on their website under the headline “Carta des de la presó: ‘Que la impotència de la sentència es converteixi en esperança’“. This is a translation of the full letter into English.

Dear all,

Once again I am writing to you from Catalonia. Just a few hours have been enough to feel the solidarity of all of you. Infinite thanks.

The movement of the political prisoners closer to home is nothing more than a reflex of the democratic regression of the state. They want us to be discouraged and surrendered, and so the sentences will be hard and will hurt us. But believe me, there is only one way and it is to do it together.

Remember that no social conquest has ever been gifted. If we do not punish ourselves, if we do not give up sharing everything, if we know how to be united and act in a generous and empathetic manner, we will leave. But we must do it with coherence and determination, with culture as the principle element of social cohesion and limitless democracy.

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El Nacional: Macron leaves Rivera looking a fool (in his worst moment)

The is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper El Nacional entitled “Macron deixa en ridícul Rivera (en el seu pitjor moment)“. El Nacional publishes some of their own articles in English here.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has left the leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, looking a fool after he had assured that the Élysée had congratulated them for their post-electoral pacts. The presidency came out to deny it publicly, in what is Rivera’s worst moment in politics.

The Élysée Palace denied that Macron had given support “either in public or in private” to Ciudadanos’ pacts in Spain, according to French presidential sources quoted by Efe.

“It is incorrect information. The President has not spoken those words either in private or in public”, the Élysée source signalled.

Rivera assured this morning during a visit to Brussels, however, that “Macron and the Élysée have given support to our pacts and have congratulated us, even for Andalusia”, where the Partido Popular and Ciudadanos have entered a pact with the far-right party Vox. Statements which immediately reached the ears of the French residency, now in poor relations with Rivera.

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Amnesty International: At the end of the oral trial, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez should be released on bail

Amnesty International have once again called for the immediate release of the Catalan civil society leaders Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart from provisional detention. In a press release on their Spanish website entitled “Concluido el juicio oral, Jordi Cuixart y Jordi Sánchez deben ser puestos en libertad provisional“, they say they have written to the Spanish Prosecutor to demand the release of the Jordis, and express concern about the nature of the criminal offences of which they have been accused. This is a translation of the full press release.

At the end of the oral trial, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez should be released on bail

18 June 2019

Since we were informed of their imprisonment, Amnesty International has repeatedly stated that Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart should be released immediately. Now, the conclusion of oral trial before the Supreme Court is the time to review their situation of provisional detention and proceed to release them. Both have been in provisional detention since 16 October 2017. The Spanish courts have denied their release on numerous occasions. The organisation has sent a letter to the Public Prosecutor, insisting on this once again, and regrets that yesterday they were informed negatively against the release of Jordi Sànchez.

In its writs of 11 April and 14 May 2019, the Supreme Court referred to the development of the oral trial as “an element of indispensable deliberation” which advised ruling out Jordi Sànchez’s freedom, and recognised that any preventative measure involving the deprivation of liberty “is aimed, precisely, to ensure the defendant’s presence during the oral trial”.

With respect to Jordi Cuixart, the ruling of the Constitutional Court on 7 May 2019, which dismissed his appeal against the resolutions which denied his petition for provisional release, indicated that the said resolutions took into account the temporary proximity of the oral trial, in line with constitutional jurisprudence, which recognises as a legitimate aim of provisional detention ensuring the presence of the accused in the trial.

Amnesty International warns that, according to international standards of human rights, the longer provisional detention is prolonged, the greater the need for a rigorous examination to determine if it remains necessary and proportionate.

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An open letter to the candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats

Dear Ed & Jo,

In just a few short weeks, one of you will be taking on the mantle of leadership of a Liberal Democrat party with its highest ever number of members, and which appears to be on the cusp of something special.

In the last few weeks, we have seen some truly phenomenal results for our party, cementing our place as a liberal alternative to the inward-looking Conservative Party on the right, a divided Labour party on the left and Nigel Farage’s populist Brexit Party.

At the beginning of May, we saw our largest ever increase in seats in the local elections, while in the European elections we won more votes and seats in the European Parliament than ever before. Our message was unequivocal and resonated up and down the country.

I am one of those members who joined in the aftermath of the EU referendum. After some time in the political wilderness, and some time wondering whether I even wanted to be a member of a political party, it was clear to me as a liberal and a democrat at heart, there was only one party which represented me.

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