The political week in 5 points

Brief encounters with Karen Bradley

Speaking of politicians who fly by night, Brexit minister Dominic Raab visited the Irish border this week. Raab called the visit a ‘fact-finding’ mission, but was criticized for not meeting with politicians, business representatives and some of the press. South Down MP Chris Hazzard accused Mr Raab of “coming in like a thief in the night.”

National Crime Agency and the investigation of Arron Banks

A new report in the Observer also revealed that former employees from Banks’ insurance companies may have worked on Leave.EU campaign from their company offices, which would be a breach of electoral law. The revelations have renewed calls for the Brexit process to be suspended until investigations have been completed, and for Prime Minister Theresa May to clarify whether she or other ministers had “declined a request from the security services to conduct an investigation” into Arron Banks, amid allegations that May had blocked an investigation into the businessman in 2016. Amidst all this, the BBC decided to invite Banks onto the Andrew Marr show, prompting criticism from some politicians, lawyers and activities. (Although Banks kindly decided to fly back from his vacation in Bermuda in order to respond to allegations that he may have misled MPs).

Businesses call for second vote on Brexit

“Despite the Prime Minister’s best efforts, the proposals being discussed by the government and the European Commission fall far short of this. . . . The uncertainty over the past two years has already led to a slump in investment. . . .We are now facing either a blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit. . . . Given that neither was on the ballot in 2016, we believe the ultimate choice should be handed back to the public with a People’s Vote.”

The letter comes just before the launch of a new campaign, Business for a People’s Vote. Supporters of the campaign include former Treasury minister and Marks & Spencer chairman Lord Myners, co-founder Baroness Lane-Fox, former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King and John Neill, head of car parts supplier Unipar.

Downing Street responded: “We had a people’s vote, it was in June 2016.”

Mary Robinson appointed chairwoman of the Council of Elders

Jair Bolsonaro elected president of Brazil

Some commentators have attributed Bolsonaro’s victory to the corruption scandal that engulfed the Worker’s Party. The Workers’ Party governed Brazil for 13 years and their policies helped to lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva or ‘Lula’, as he is known, left office as a remarkably popular figure. However, he and many other politicians were caught up in a far-reaching anti-corruption probe called ‘Operation Carwash’. Lula was sentenced to 12 years for corruption and money laundering.

Despite his arrest, Lula was running for president against Bolsonaro until an electoral court in September ruled he was barred from running (his running mate Fernando Haddad then became the Workers’ Party candidate). While Bolsonaro positioned himself as a strongman who can tackle the problems of entrenched corruption, it is unclear how ‘clean’ Bolsonaro himself is. As one commentator said, “The trees keep voting for the axe because they the handle is made of wood, and they think its one of us.”

Originally published at Northern Slant.

PhD’ing in Politics and International Studies at Cambridge via Queen's University Belfast via Stanford.