The EU Sails Serenely Past the Wreck of the United Kingdom 278


The disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has accused the EU of “blackmail” in the Brexit talks. This puzzles me. The disgraced former Defence Secretary has repeatedly asserted that the EU is desperate for a trade deal with the UK, and that German manufacturers of Mercedes and BMWs will insist that the UK leaving the EU brings no interruption in free trade, with no concomitant requirements for the UK to comply with EU practice.

But if the UK’s hand is so strong, and the EU’s hand is so weak, then the EU surely is in no position to “blackmail” the UK?

The disgraced former Defence Secretary has never struck me as a man of great intellect. It is perhaps unsurprising that it has not occurred to him, that to accuse your negotiating partner, in the most public manner possible, of blackmail, is not a tactic designed to inculcate the cooperative spirit necessary in any complex negotiation. Worse than that, “Blackmail” is a cry of “please don’t hurt me, I am weak on this one”. Fox contrives to be both insulting and inept all at the same time. It really is quite astonishing that a man who is both entirely incompetent, and has the corruption and inanity of the Werritty affair permanently inscribed on his record, is in office.

But the most incredible thing of all is that, standing in Japan next to Theresa May, the disgraced former Defence Secretary looks competent and assured by comparison. The collapse of the UK is not a pretty sight.

Meanwhile, Brexit has one positive side – for the EU. Just as national parliaments have done through history, the EU Parliament has been increasing its power incrementally over decades, thus eating away at the EU’s democratic deficit. Officially, on Brexit the Commission negotiates, and the Council (of national governments) decides, while the Parliament is only consulted. But plainly the role played by Guy Verhofstadt, the Parliament’s Brexit rapporteur, is more substantive than that and in the real world the EU Parliament will need to be carried along in agreement. That is a good thing for EU democracy.

Secondly, allow me to crow yet again at the detractors of the Euro. The Euro is arguably the most astonishing economic project in the history of the world, a currency union replacing dozens of existing currencies in the world’s largest and most mature economic bloc. Its success is, on any rational analysis, far more notable than the inevitable teething troubles, pretty well all of which can be ascribed to countries joining at too high a rate allowed to their former currency. I have always advocated that the UK join the Euro and that independent Scotland simply adopts it. Commenters invariably rejoin by echoing the ludicrous prognostications by the Mail and the Express of the Euro’s collapse. I look forward before Easter to the Euro decisively overtaking the pound in value.

The EU will go from strength to strength. An independent Scotland will remain within it. The rump UK will subside with alarming speed, comforting itself with its imperial delusions and xenophobic pride at “controlling its borders” and keeping out those pesky foreigners, who kept blackmailing it.


278 thoughts on “The EU Sails Serenely Past the Wreck of the United Kingdom

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  • Mr Millwall

    Sir

    You need to get behind the country.
    People will call out traitor if you continue.

    Yours sincerely

    Mr Millwall

    • Mary Hardwick

      That’s because he is a traitor, masquerading as some sort of “alternative” voice. Just because he is a failure at being establishment doesn’t mean is isn’t establishment. A left wing gatekeeper.

    • Edward Freeman

      And what country might that be, Mr. Millwall?

      I remark that it is a habit of extreme right-wingers to call dissenters of any kind “traitors”. I remark also that it is a habit of such extreme right-wingers to be xenophobic.

      Your contribution contains no argument, Mr. Millwall, only assertion and opinion. If the dose of reality which Mr. Murray just administered is unwelcome to you, sir, then it is not Mr. Murray who is at fault, and your purely ad hominem attack on him advances our understanding not one whit.

      Yours sincerely,

      Edward Freeman

      • Mr Millwall

        Dear Mr Freeman

        Your country and my country sir
        The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

        Yours sincerely

        Mr Millwall

        • reel guid

          Mr Millwall

          The name of the state is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Not as you put it “The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland”.

          You’re such a patriot you don’t even know the name of the state. Which is not my country by the way.
          Just as Jeremy Corbyn is so pro-Scotland he didn’t know we retained a separate legal system from 1707 onwards. So knowledgeable these Brits.

          Still I’m sure you’re not bothered by what any other poster here says. After all you’re Mr. Millwall. No one likes you and you don’t care. Right?

      • Clemsam

        I agree very much with the style and content of your reply to Mr. Millwall.
        I’d just like to add that extreme right-wingers -in my experience- often aren’t consciously xenophobic -sometimes even deny it!- but more general fearful and hence narrow-minded, grudging egotists, just one “logical” consequence of this “illogical” state being xenophobia.
        Because they aren’t intellectually or “socially” able/willing to understand “difference” they are afraid of it:
        They generally have grudges against people who look different, speak different, live different and think deeper/more/different than themselves. To them difference is an uncalculatable threat to their comprehensible small world.
        The less they really know foreigners, the more they fear them, as a logical paradox.

        • Mr Millwall

          What a fantastic and informative thread.

          Reed Guid – here are my comments:
          Firstly, I now know what country I reside in. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I used to have a passport so I imagine it was inscribed on there.

          Secondly, Scottish Law well this explains so much. One of the United Kingdom’s must important exports is English law as this is the law used the most in International contracts.

          ClemSam – here are my comments
          I love my country and I also love change and difference.
          A vote for Brexit was clearly a vote against the status quo, a way from the established order.

          Edward Freeman – here are my comments
          You have educated my sir. I now know what ad homimen means.

          Mr Murray does make a very strange assertion:
          “The EU Parliament has been increasing its power incrementally over decades, thus eating away at the EU’s democratic deficit.”

          When I was a young person I made my pilgrimage to Brussels as part of a propaganda trip funded by the EU for the leading young minds and future opinion formers of London.

          What I found staggering is the EU parliament cannot propose any legislation only review and pass legislation which is drafted by the European Council. Does this not sound incredibly undemocratic.

          • Why be ordinary?

            Indeed the European Parliament can’t propose legislation, but then how many private members bills come out of the House of Commons?
            In fact apart from in Foreign & Security policy the Council can’t make proposals either. Only the Commission, collectively, can propose anything, although Council and EP can invite the Commission to produce a proposal. The whole idea was to remove the national element from the process (e.g. unlike the UN where proposals are made by countries)

  • Mr Mephistopheles

    If the Tories succeed in making the UK such an unattractive prospect that no one in their right mind would want to move here, well, that would count as cutting immigration, wouldn’t it?

  • Bob Costello

    I have a feeling that more people are warming to the Euro as a currency for Scotland and I believe it removes another hurdle which the SNP seem to be unable or unwilling to decide on and that is the need for a central bank.

  • Clemsam

    I very much like the idea of an independent Scotland, given that England BLACKMAILED them with the treat to veto Scotland’s joining the EU in 2014.
    What a joke and historical irony THAT would be …
    I’m really convinced that we -a family from EU27- would love to spend one of our next summer holidays in Scotland, paying with EUROS, and making a “day excursion” to exotic England. (That’s what we usually do when holidaying in France: visit Spain’s cities for a day trip.)

  • Yves Vanden Auweele

    It looks more and more that Brexit will end as a Shakespearien Drama. I admire Mr. Davis who is defending the indefensible.

  • Clemsam

    I very much like the idea of an independent Scotland, given that England BLACKMAILED them with the threat to veto Scotland’s joining the EU in 2014.
    What a joke and historical irony THAT would be …
    I’m really convinced that we -a family from EU27- would love to spend one of our next summer holidays in Scotland, paying with EUROS, and making a “day excursion” to exotic England. (That’s what we usually do when holidaying in France: visit Spain’s cities for a day trip.)

  • mickc

    The negotiations with the EU are seemingly being conducted unprofessionally by both sides. The UK has democratically voted to leave the EU. The EU should accept that, but it is not a fan of democracy and the chaos it can cause, and seeks to “punish” the UK. Both parties should seek to make the best of a bad job.
    Yes, Fox is not bright…and a hindrance rather than a help.
    As for the Euro, your view of a successful currency appears to be one that is acceptable to the financial elite whilst impoverishing many of the peoples who have adopted it. On the contrary, a successful currency is one which promotes prosperity amongst those people’s.

    • East Neuker

      In what way is the EU seeking to “punish” the UK? Their negotiators are simply sticking, as they are obliged to, to the agreed position reached by 27 members.
      You sound like one of those deluded, entitled British exceptionalists who just can’t believe that the EU won’t roll over to the fantasy demands of a crazy right wing and exceptionally stupid UK government.

      • Habbabkuk

        And it is the 27 Member States who are entirely free to modify, in the light of developments, the negotiating position with which they charged the Commisiion.

        Experience shows that in any negotiation between the EU and a third party, both sides start off from a maximalist position; that is the essence of any negotiation and the parties would be ill-dvised to do any other.. I recommend a couple of relatively recent posts by Charles Crawford on negotiating technique (see his blog).

        As a final comment on the internal logic of East Neuker’s post, how does he know that the position of the 27 Members States (as represented by the actual negotiator, the Commission) does not include an element of punishment?

        • East Neuker

          If you think the EU’s current negotiating position contains an element of “punishment” please describe what that is. I fail to see it. If you can’t, then it’s not my internal logic which needs examining.

          You think that it does, therefore that’s the truth? Detail it and I can at least argue with you. Asking for the UK to meet commitments that they have explicitly or implicitly already made is reasonable
          Threatening to walk away from those commitments is not. That would deserve to be punished.

          I did not say that the 27 could not modify their position. Of course they could, but it would be a long process. What I said is that that Barnier and co are not empowered to change the guidelines which have been set for them by the member states.

          At least they have a position. The so called position papers issued by the UK government have been somewhere between a fantasy wish list and a load of hot air.

    • Why be ordinary

      Indeed – the UK voted to leave, the EU did not vote to expell it. The democratically elected government of the UK needs to work out how to respond to the wishes of its own electorate as other European countries respond to theirs. Trump got a popular mandate to build a wall on the Mexican border, that does not mean that the Government of Mexico has to help.
      Currency stability actually helps the poorest, who are the biggest victims of inflation. It has stopped the countries of southern Europe from relying on progressive devaluation which made their people poorer (eg reducing their wages in international comparison) without the effects being immediately apparent – how is the current decline of the pound helping the poorest in the UK?

      • nevermind

        You have voted to Leave but what you are doing is failing long term commitments made, by the looks of it, under false pretences. The UK has made commitment as part of the 27 and it is now wanting out, stop paying for it, before these commitments have run their course.

        That is not leaving, that’s running away.

        The DUP is now following this Government by trying to pressurise Sinn Fein into the same blank cheque situation this Government used on the established parties here. To make any decisions without having a working Government, the DUP’s demand today, is wholly unacceptable.

        • glenn

          Is it fair to expect the UK to pay for long term projects from which it will no longer benefit?

          • East Neuker

            The commitments range from projects already begun on the basis of UK participation, decisions taken in which the UK agreed, and all sorts of other things like the pensions of British EU employees. Their may be some exceptions, but, yes, a lot of it is fair. Need I repeat again, the U.K. Is leaving, not being thrown out, and has made many commitments that we should honour.

  • nevermind

    With unsavoury characters such as Liam Fox in cabinet, the outcome of the Wreckxit talks can almost be guaranteed to fail. There is not one voice in the Conservative party that is asking him to STFU, agreeance by Kowtowing of the worst kind.

    The parallel to this is a weak Weimar republic pulling in this, that and the other way, but not stemming the tide of nationalism.

    9 out of 10 MP’s agree with each other that the current care system in this country has failed, 10 out of 10 agree with each other and their party not to do anything too drastic to change this sad equation. The UN has condemned the ‘catastrophic policies of cuts to disabled people and the erosion of their rights, for the second time since this Government came to power, nothing they say on ‘improving benefits’ can be trusted now.

    I have the feeling that the PM was called to Japan for a rapport, they want to know what will happen when the draw bridges to Europe are pulled up, something I believe will not happen at all, everything points to a long term drawn out shambles out of which we will emerge thin and emaciated, mind, that would be the 90% that is not working to keep the status quo with a wretched stinking FPTP system and their allegiances to vested interests and the establishment, they’ll be alright Jack, as long as nobody is invading the Turks and Caicos/Jersey.

    BTW. if you come to pensionable age and are a long term resident immigrant, don’t expect any responses from the DWP in Newcastle, you can’t talk to them directly and they fob you off with false responses/lies, so best not expect anything, cause that is exactly what they want.

  • CameronB Brodie

    The European Central Bank stands above political control, that is how it was designed. So who controls the social policy of Euro member nations? National governments or Eurocrat bankers?

      • Andy

        Why separate monetary policy from social policy? Why can’t money, that the state creates, be controlled by the people?

        • Dave S

          To discourage governments trying to buy votes by printing money to pay for public services.

          Much better to let them print money to give to bankers apparently.

        • Why be ordinary

          Money is not created by the state. As a medium of exchange (ignore the stable store of value issue for the moment) it can be anything the other party to an exchange is willing to accept. As a great socialist politician once said “saying we can’t do something because we don’t have the money is like saying we can’t take a train journey because we don’t have the paper on which to print the ticket”.
          Giving someone a piece of paper labelled “money” is not the issue – it is the allocation of resources behind it that is important. Draghi/Carney are keeping the score, not running the game.

  • Mary Hardwick

    “Secondly, allow me to crow yet again at the detractors of the Euro. The Euro is arguably the most astonishing economic project in the history of the world, a currency union replacing dozens of existing currencies in the world’s largest and most mature economic bloc. Its success is, on any rational analysis….”

    “It’s SUCCESS” ?

    You are deluded. Mental. The euro is the cause of the destruction of the southern European economies and the cause of the rise of the far right.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      There are a wide range of factors that led to the situation in Greece (and elsewhere) and the formation of the Euro is one aspect of it. Much of the analysis has noted that Greece and other countries engineered their financial affairs with the assistance of the banking system, to meet the criteria for entry to the Euro.
      The banking crisis which was also instrumental is, in many ways, still with us and he fundamental failings of the current dominant economic model remain unanswered. Thos country, for instance, remains at risk due to the heavy dependence on personal debt to maintain demand. Wages are contracting while jobs are increasing a very odd situation which seems out of step and suggests that the quality and skills of work are declining, with people in effect now in competition with machines, or Philippine or Asian people, who are subject to governments interested only in the economic exploitation of their people, and the minimisation f the costs of supporting them.
      If you don’t think there are really serious (hidden) economic problems in this country, especially as it relinquishes its place and privileges, in a large cooperative trading bloc. The EU is far from perfect, but it offers considerable advantages over the alternative, now unravelling in the hands of the those deluded hypernationalist/crypto-fascists like Fox, Davis etc. and their ‘independent minded’ chums like Donald Trump

      The thing that amuses me is that such people, who of course do not give a stuff for the left-leaning opposers of this country, and regard them as inconvenient vermin, actually don’t care tuppence for their supporters either. You will receive no privileges for your folly of believing these venal, amoral charlatans when they flog off all the public assets that are left in this country, because they will be on the beach in Barbados, drinking rum punch and pina colada.

    • Laguerre

      “The euro is the cause of the destruction of the southern European economies ”

      Really? Andalucia and Sicily look pretty prosperous to me. I’ve seen both recently. Both profited from EU regional subsidies.

      • Habbabkuk

        Regional subsidies existed for decades before the Euro was introduced ; they have nothing to do with the Euro project.

        • Laguerre

          Ah but they do. According to the the theories of those who postulate the imminent crash of the Euro, those countries ought to be wrecks in spite of the regional subsidies. But it has not happened.

  • Dave S

    The Euro is 1.087 to the pound now so parity is close. Have to laugh at all the people in the last ten years ago saying it would collapse by Christmas.

    It has its problems but I don’t see countries queueing to leave. Personally I think an indy Scotland would be better with its own currency but we will need to commit to join anyway (if the EU lets us in) so plenty of time to see how the Euro develops. It’s certainly a viable option and will become more so as the pound tanks further.

    The SNP need to come up with a plan for the currency soon if we are to sell independence. They can’t leave it until the last minute then come up with a fudge like last time. We need to dump the pound otherwise the UK will still have control over us.

  • CameronB Brodie

    nevermind
    You speak of nationalism as if it were a disease. Would you not agree that the Nazis were actually fascists and their nationalism was merely a means to an end?

      • CameronB Brodie

        Do you not think he may have meant totalitarian authoritarianism disguised as nationalism, or do you think my political outlook akin to the Nazis?

          • Republicofscotland

            We have seen British nationalism, through the eyes of the Tories, it’s not a pretty sight.

            You omit as usual, that not all forms of nationalism are the same.

      • reel guid

        So said the man who wrote to President Roosevelt in the 1930s urging him to begin a US atomic weapons project.

        • CameronB Brodie

          Doubt he had the benefit of a background in Critical Social Theory.

          What is London’s stance towards Scotland and Brexit? I call it BritNat totalitarian authoritarianism. Others think it patriotic to endorse their own slavery.

      • reel guid

        Funny how no one has ever been quoted as saying that imperialism is the measles of mankind.

      • Edward Freeman

        Einstein was talking about blood-and-soil, excluding, right-wing, ethnically based nationalism. We independentistas are for a civic, inclusive, social democratic and values-based nationalism. The two concepts are adequately described in the literature.

        It is a great pity that those two concepts, which are in fact radically different to the point of being diametrically opposed, share the same word form in English. “Nationalism” is in fact its own antonym, a Janus word, like “to sanction”, or “to dust”, or “demiurge”. Other languages do not have that problem. It is a great pity, because “nationalism” is used and understood incorrectly by not only the unaware, but by the disingenuous.

        To be quite, quite clear about it: we independentistas (I use the Spanish word) are opposed to fascism, authoritarianism, &c., to our very marrow, and anyone who claims to be a “Scottish nationalist” and is not so opposed will get very short shrift from us. Indeed, if they are an SNP member, they will be summarily booted out of the party, and quite right too. Unlike certain Tory councillors and the Conservative and Unionist Party.

        • fred

          “We independentistas are for a civic, inclusive, social democratic and values-based nationalism.”

          It looks a lot more like Anglophobia based nationalism to me.

        • pietra

          This thing about it being “civic” nationalism, not ethnic nationalism is clearly specious.

          If it is “civic” nationalism, why is it based on the Scottish border? Why not campaign for an independent state that consists of a patchwork of northeast Yorkshire, the eastern coastal zone of Northumberland and a piece of southeast Selkirk? Oh, let’s throw in an outlier, an exclave, say 12 square miles of farmland near Ardnamurchan. Or independent village-states dotted around here and there, plum-like, in a pudding of Britain. But “civicly independent” of Britain, of course.

          • reel guid

            Because borders are nothing to do with ethnicity. All happily multi-ethnic sovereign countries have borders. Right?

  • Andy

    The Tories want the UK to crash out of the EU. They will use the shock of leaving EU without a deal to destroy the welfare state, privatise everything that isn’t already privatised and turn the UK into a ”free market” hell. Having no plan is the plan.

    • nevermind

      And then they will run into the first obstacles as Countries that deal with the EU have to make decisions that favour trading with this runaway, jeopardising their trade agreements with the most lucrative market in the world.

      It won’t happen and Japan would have told Mrs. May yesterday, they are not interested in dealing with us in isolation, they want us to be their key to the EU market.
      BMW, in a bold move, committed the fabrication of the new electric Mini to Cowley, despite not having had any commitments, hallo Nissan, from this Government. 60% of Mini’s will be built here, which means that the Krauts have an in build contingency enabling them to switch production elsewhere, should the worst come to pot.

      That is not a black mail, but a bold commitment by an EU company to this country

  • Bugger le Panda

    I think Liam Fox is the ugly face of Conservatism, Unionism, Capitalism and Humanity, the latter made without the benefit of confirmation by DNA

  • Alex M

    Brexit was triggered without any idea of what was to be negotiated. Months later we now know that the Tory party would like to leave the EU entirely, and negotiate an alternative, uncannily similar to being in the EU, but without the costs. They seem to be asking for a free ride to free trade. Strangely the Tories are obsessed with the idea that the EU will grant their demands because that EU wish to sell us German cars. This is a very strange argument indeed, as it supposes that UK residents might be happy not to have German cars or spares for their existing cars, as if the Tories had decided to cut off our noses to spite someone else’s face. Surely, whatever the arrangements, the EU will sell us the cars and spares we want. It will be entirely up to the UK as importer to decide on tariffs, quotas etc.

    We have now reached the point where some of both Tory and Labour politicians, are beginning to admit that without a change of direction a cliff edge is inevitable. Amidst shrieks from the extremists that any such a change would deny the democratic will of the people, backtracking is gathering pace. Both major parties, are slowly beginning to reach the logic expressed by the SNP immediately after the Brexit referendum.

    The UK has to stay in the free trade area and the customs union. Neither of the major English parties have yet admitted that the stay-in may have to be permanent, but both are now expressing the need for a transitional stay-in, or in the case of the Tory party a pseudo stay-in, in a face saving replica version of the existing free trade area and the customs union.

    Interestingly the now renamed “Great Repeal Bill” as currently drafted is incompatible with the stay-in as described by Keir Starmer of the Labour party. Since parliamentary scrutiny of this bill starts next week, quick thinking of an unprecedented order of urgency is required, lest the whole process becomes so laughable that it has to be abandoned, and we have apologise to the EU for our folly, and ask for our resignation to be torn up.

    The will of the people is an interesting concept, not surely best represented by the outcome of an ill informed referendum. Untruths abounded, and important issues ignored by both the organisers of Remain and Leave. I shall never forget the confusion and alarm on the faces of Johnson and Gove, when the unexpected result was announced.

  • reel guid

    Since a bridge has been in the news.

    Sturgeon and Verhofstadt represent a bridge for Scotland to normality and reasonable prosperity.

    May, Corbyn and Davidson offer Scotland a bridge to nowhere.

      • reel guid

        Good one.

        Yes, Atlantic Bridge may have been dissolved but Liam Fox is now putting the contacts he made then to use in order to further the neocon agenda in the UK. Last time with Atlantic Bridge there was the EU to provide protection for the people of the UK. Now it’s happy time for Fox and his pals.

        Scotland must get out of the union before her treacherous son Liam Fox trashes our society.

  • Gordon Murray

    The €euro?
    Mebbes aye mebbes naw. In an age of electronic money the emotional attachment to a physical currency for me is weak. I rarely use cash unless to pay the window cleaner.
    Personally I favour Scottish currency until such time as we get settled and can make an informed judgement on it.
    Otherwise its just one more excuse to fall out and have a fight about, an issue that we have absolutely no influence over until after we are independent.
    Rump UK?
    Former UK English Dependencies.
    Without the kingdom of Scots in a union with the kingdom of England (&Wales) there is no United Kingdom.
    They’ll simply revert to what they’ve called themself for the last 300years – England.

    • Kempe

      ” I favour Scottish currency until such time as we get settled and can make an informed judgement on it. ”

      An independent Scotland would have no choice. It would have to spend at least two years in the ERM2 before being accepted into the Euro.

  • Monsieur Tartuffe.

    Sir,

    It is most encouraging to see that we are still living within a ‘democracy’ and ‘free speech’ is not only allowed, but accepted. (Well, most of the time anyway).

    For many poor souls the penny still hasn’t dropped but it will – today, tomorrow, next week, month or year.

    What is done, is done. And what is won, is won. And what is lost, is lost and gone forever.

    But, rest assured, “Britain will receive the best deal for Britain”…………..indeed it will, on the EU’s terms, of course.

    KInd Regards.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Yes, Fox is a pretty dim kinda chancer. Yes, Brexit has run on to the rocks, probably with the active collaboration of the establishment, for which the EU is simply a stage on the road to total global uniformity and the extinction of individuality everywhere. But Fox isn’t the only culprit when it comes to accusations of blackmail, is he?

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/29/brexit-eu-condemns-mays-blackmail-over-security-cooperation

    Sure, the Euro’s looking buoyant right now. That’s absolutely to be expected as the speculators weigh in, and has much more to do with the narrative – Brexit crisis shock horror! Stuff’s going to change, sell some stuff and buy some other stuff and fill your boots. Strange to see you cheering on the profiteers doing what they always do, Craig. It’s truly terrible. Any day now we’ll be able to sell stuff to the EU at a profit regardless of their trade barriers; regardless of whether we’re in or out. Let’s go for parity. The pound’s been overvalued for decades. And let’s make something useful to sell, btw. That’ll be a change.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      Its now too late to start making stuff useful to sell. The technology and techniques and information systems required for the higher end things are in the hands of more energetic, more sophisticated ‘others’. They keep that under control because that is where the ‘value’ is.
      Do you think that if people in this country could put together a package that produced a sellable machine or widget, or service, that they wouldn’t do so or are not already doing it. (mostly high end services).
      Even middle range technology has passed us by. We are too expensive even to make quite ordinary things. Where do you think all the consumer stuff is made now?
      The problem is that the UK is now quite vulnerable due to high costs and low skills.The EU delays that and extends the time we have to adapt. Brexit means we have to face these problems in the very short term and this country is essentially unable to adapt, without huge levels of disruption and pain for the population.
      You are right to highlight the loss of cultural diversity, the threat to cultures, languages and the homogenising effect of globalisation, the devaluing of individuals and the huge emphasis on their exploitable consumerism but if we are to reverse such trends there would require to be a much more radical series of societal, educational and economic changes (to mention just a few issues) and there os very little indication that the great majority of people have the slightest grasp of these matters.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Agree with most of that, although it is a counsel of despair, and I’m not quite ready to accept it as a given. One thing Brexit might have done would have been to deliver a short sharp shock to our politicians’ perception of what government actually needs to mean. It didn’t, (but it was worth a try).

        I don’t buy the expense idea, re manufacturing, in particular the implication that our wage expectations are too high. I do buy the low skills argument. The complete failure of HMG from Thatcher on to support technical education adequately, and Blair’s absurd insistence that 50% of school leavers should get a degree, no matter what in or what its utility, put paid to our prospects of training a workforce capable of understanding, let alone making, world-class products.

        Describing the EU as a means of buying time to catch up, I reject entirely. In practice it has proved to be a comfort blanket, and its insulating properties have encouraged our leaders to carry on exactly as before, reesting in their own flatus as they pull the covers over their heads. Changing the socio-economic landscape is too hard even to contemplate. But the Gods of the Copybook Headings are still chuckling at the bedside.

  • Paul Fisher

    Craig, I have read your book about your time in the ‘Stans. I also know one of the people you mentioned in your story. You are spot on with this pieces. I wrote this recently – I had a dream and it went like this: A Macronesque Prime Minister is elected in the UK. Upon taking office, he goes to Brussels and meets with the three presidents (Parliament, Council & Commission). He says “My conditions for withdrawing the UK’s Article 50 application to leave the EU are as follows: The EU immediately draws up plans for a closer Union, the UK is admitted to the Eurozone and an EU army is created.” He then goes to New York with the President of France and visits the UN where France and Britain declare that they are relinquishing their permanent seats on the Security Council in exchange for one for the EU. In one stroke, the EU becomes the largest free trade area, creates a world beating currency and creates a pan European security structure. Think about it.

    • Uzbek in the UK

      This would be very undemocratic since (small but still) majority has voted to leave EU in the referendum. Did it bother you at all?
      I am not a Brexiter and did not vote for Brexit, but this is the shortcoming of democracy that Brexit and Trump’s election could become an outcome of democratic vote.

    • Uzbek in the UK

      Whether we like it or not but it is Germany who gets most benefit from EU. European integration as grand project was set up to ensure that European nations (which since German unification means Germany) does not resort to the balance of power or is driven by hegemony. All battles are now fought in corridors in Brussels and not on the beaches of Normandy. Victims are sometimes some some fat cat european bureaucrats and not millions of innocent people.

      In this sense EU is grand and very successful project and will remain so until it is part of the Transatlantic unity.

      Europe’s multinationality and its diverse culture and variation in economic development between its members remains its most important treat. As far as Germans sponsor south eropean economies, as far as Germany itself remains within US political sphere of influence, EU is safe. But if trends change, EU will collapse swiftly and there is nothing europeans could and would do to stop it.

  • Steve Metcalfe

    A very cogent piece which sums up the irrational nature of recent government press statements.

  • Rolf Norfolk

    I get the feeling that you simply dislike England and the English, which is a shame in one of your intelligence, learning and sophistication. Phobos and Deimos orbit your martial mind.

    And the notion that the EU fosters national independence! If the Scots want proper independence, they should make alliances with Iceland and Norway, and develop their fisheries and hydroelectric technology.

  • John

    No fan of Fox but he has a point. No fan of Abe or May but Japan’s pragmatic approach makes the EU’s look obstructive.
    There is too much grandstanding going on from Europe, and I think it will come round and bite them on the ass. Voters in other countries will not be cowed, they will be galvanised.
    Glad to hear Craig supports the Euro, I do find the Remain camp’s sudden Europhilia odd considering there was no such wailing and gnashing when the UK opted not to join. It was only ever a lukewarm member.
    Finally, May offered the option for another referendum on a plate, but the electorate did not vote Lib Dem who stood on that platform, so I find this continual bellyaching rather selective.

    • Laguerre

      We haven’t heard yet what Japan’s conditions for a trade deal are. They said to be “based on” the EU deal – that may very well mean similar but worse. An off-the-shelf deal signed quickly, where worse conditions for Britain have to be accepted.

  • reel guid

    Colonel Davidson is clearly going barking. Her utterances on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme this morning are worth listening to on the iplayer.

    Sounds as if the Colonel is heading for a Section 8.

  • Jack Shae

    Glad most of Ireland got independence from England, not saying that the clowns are any better here but it is at least our circus. It will be good for the EU when the UK quits as they have always been the dog in the manger and never bought into the vision of a united war free Europe, which behoves us all to protect as the 2 World wars were products of a narrow selfish Europe at that time,

    • reel guid

      Indeed Jack. All the talk about the EU centres around economics. So many people don’t realise the political importance of having an institution that fosters European co-operation and friendliness.

      Scotland wants to remain part of that. And the economic benefits are there too.

      If England wants to go off and be Uncle Sam’s tatty footstool whilst pretending to be something grander then so be it. Scotland has better things to do.

      • MJ

        Like going off and being Aunt Angela’s tatty footstool whilst pretending to be something grander.

  • Ewan

    The introduction of the Euro was a logistical triumph. It is however a Bad Thing, as events have confirmed. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t even take the word of monetary economists like Professor Congdon (that he is a member of UKIP does not detract from his economic reasoning). Read mainstream economists like Professors Joseph Steiglitz and Hans-Werner Sinn. The very distinguished monetary economist, David Laidler set out the arguments in terms we lay people can understand in his contributions to the debate whether Canada should adopt the U$. A single currency may well be appropriate if and when the EU becomes a unitary state. It is folly to use it as a means to force a unitary state upon us.

    I would very much appreciate an explanation, or a reference to such an explanation, of why the really existing EU is thought to be a Good Thing (aside from any noble intentions some of its founders may have had). Is it not an instrument of transnational corporate capitalism? Is it not, like NATO, a tool for objectionable foreign policy?

        • Ewan

          ?
          Tell that to the people of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal!

          In what sense is the Euro “doing well”? You mean Germany is prospering?

          • Laguerre

            They’re doing pretty well there (except Greece, due to the folly of previous Greek govts). You only have to go to Andalucia and Sicily and see how prosperous they are now compared to before. I suppose you haven’t been there much, and you’re going by the media.

            As for the Euro, are you that unobservant of the rates? You can’t really have missed which currency is falling through the floor, and which holding up well.

          • Ewan

            It’s all the Greeks’ fault? Italy, Spain etc. are prosperous? Remind me what youth unemployment is in these countries.

            You do know that the point of flexible exchange rates is to go up and down to reflect not just expected relative inflation but to facilitate adjustments in the real economy.

            Ask those feckless Greeks (who work harder than most Northern Europeans and have borne a fiscal adjustment the French population would never accept) if they really prefer to protect the lenders who made shed-loads of cash lending to Greece by taking the whole burden on themselves i.e. those who didn’t do the borrowing or benefit from it, by effecting the necessary real adjustment purely by deflation with no depreciation of the currency and no debt write-own (one of the great opportunities opened up to them by joining the single currency on terms designed not to reflect conditions in their economy – but that’s okay, they can get in their jalopies and drive out of their dust bowl to… where?)

          • Laguerre

            “Remind me what youth unemployment is in these countries.”

            Better to calculate the meaning of those figures. UK deliberately depresses the figures of unemployment in order to make themselves look good. ZHCs etc, which are forbidden elsewhere. The French tell the truth, which is why unemployment is higher there. In the mediterranean regions it’s quite a different issue. Spain needs a lot of Moroccan workers in order to pick all the peaches and oranges that you eat. When I was in Cordoba last October, it was looking very prosperous. Maybe you’re not quite up to date.

    • Clemsam

      Well, to people who actually participate in the EU -NOT: “want-our-money-back”-Britain- there are lots of advantages to the EU.
      Just drive from one country to the next with no border controls, don’t need to change currencies in most countries so no “calculating” prices – a feeling of freedom from Germany to Portugal …
      The Euro may however have been a problem for countries like Greece or Italy.
      Italy used to devalue its “Lire” constantly when I was a child. I remember buying cheap toys for 100Lire, years later 500Lire, in the end 1000Lire. My father studied in Rome (5ties) and used to get a meal for around 2Lire.
      Germany actually is said to profit from the “weaker” (than Deutsche Mark) Euro as its exports are cheaper than before. And Germany pays most into the EU.

      The EU is not responsible for globalisation AT ALL. Actually its a community to have better worldwide trade conditions AGAINST super-powers like China or USA, formerly.
      Sure, some countries like -again- Germany (world leader in exports) profit more from the EU than others.

      But politically: you may not know that EACH SINGLE country has equal voting rights in important issues. Remember CETA and the Belgian region of Wallonia? EACH one country and/or regional parliament HAS to approve important contracts. You call that “undemocratic” ?!?

      Each country so far sends one commissioner (responsible for a field of politics/culture etc.) to Brussels.
      The Europen parliament consists of (in proportion to population) elected members with e.g.Germany about 96 and Luxemburg only 6 members.
      The Council of the EU, consisting of 28 ELECTED heads of government, is responsible for political aims and direction. Sometimes there has to be 100% consent, in other cases a “qualified majority” (= min. 55% of countries [16] AND min. 65% of European population [325m of 500m]) suffices.

      I wonder: HOW come you think the EU is bad for its people(s) ?!?

  • GerB

    How can Scotland be independent and also in the EU, as a signatory to EU accords you are by definition succeeding your sovreignity, it’s a circle that can’t be squared.

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