Brexit and Bad Faith 690


My long article on the Chagos Islands sat unfinished yesterday, despite my passion for the subject, as I was horribly fascinated by the Gothic twists and turns of the Brexit debates in the House of Commons. I seldom write on the subject, but some observations seem now called for.

The Westminster system of handling business is designed purely to handle binary questions disputed between two major parties. Where those parties are both themselves hopelessly riven by internal conflict, and the issues not simply reduced to a manageable number of binary choices, Erskine May just cannot cope.

Parliament thus ended up yesterday with a vote in which the majority of MPs who voted against May’s Withdrawal Agreement view its Irish Backstop provision as almost the only decent thing in it – an opinion with which I tend to concur. They however were egging on the antediluvian DUP/ERG faction to join them, on the basis of an argument that the Irish Backstop is terrible and could be permanent, neither of which anyone sensible really believes.

It says something about the insanity of UK politics that the debate quite seriously hinged around discussions of what happens if the EU acts in bad faith and used the “backstop” deliberately to trap the UK permanently in the Customs Union. The notion that the EU is acting in “bad faith” is frankly ludicrous. No trading partner has ever accused the EU, which has the most transparent negotiating process on trade deals of any country or trading bloc, of acting in bad faith. In its own interest, yes. In bad faith – ie lying and tricking – no.

The notion that the EU is like SPECTRE, and its leaders sit round a table headed by Blofeld Junker conjuring up evil plots to trap the UK in a customs union, is stark raving mad. It is an absolutely crazed conspiracy theory. Yet pro-EU MPs were pretending to share this conspiracy theory in order to encourage the ERG/DUP nutters to vote down May’s deal. That is madness.

Nobody should be perplexed that the EU has absolutely had enough of May and her government today, having watched yesterday Westminster hold a debate entirely centred on the premiss that the EU acts in bad faith.

The most important demonstration of bad faith now comes from Theresa May. She proposed a motion for debate this evening ruling out “no deal”, but – her cunning plan – specifically ruling out a no deal Brexit on 29 March, so the Government can argue No Deal has not been ruled out on any other date, and also with a clause re-asserting that No Deal remains the default position in law. In live parliamentary proceedings, Yvette Cooper – a person of whom I am not the least fond – appeared the only one immediately to pick up on what May was doing, though I gather amendments now show others have cottoned on.

May’s plan is to ask for a short extension after the next two days’ votes, then pretend to be renegotiating (again), and then bring back her same hard Brexit deal yet again to the Commons for yet another vote, this time with imminent and unstoppable No Deal as the only alternative, the EU having been pissed off to the point where it will not agree to any further extensions.

The truth is, there is a Commons majority for a soft Brexit with a Customs Union. In a free vote without party whips, that would sail through. But it is not what May wants personally as it breaks her “red lines”, all of which are entirely predicated on stopping Free Movement. Hatred of immigrants remains the defining motive of her entire career. Customs Union and Single Market access are not going to be obtainable without Free Movement.

The truth is, it is May who is acting in bad faith. She has no intention of negotiating anything other than her Red Lines with the EU, and has no intention of engaging in any kind of meaningful renegotiation, delay or no. A delay to Brexit is absolutely pointless while May remains Prime Minister. May rightly calculates that her ultra-hard Brexit red lines were required to keep the Tory Party together, and thus keep her in power. She cares much more for being in power than she does for a solution. The comparison with Robert Peel is very apt. He reached across the aisle whilst PM and split the Tory Party to repeal the Corn Laws. There are many statues to Peel around the country. There will never be any to Theresa May.

The party, parliamentary and political system of the UK has simply become dysfunctional. This is a symptom of the much wider fact that the UK is no longer a viable socio-political entity and will not continue to exist much longer. Its system of economic regulation promotes the accumulation of vast wealth by a tiny minority, while not providing a decent standard of living to millions. There is massive disillusion with its political leadership and distrust of its extremely narrow mainstream media.

What we are witnessing at Westminster is plainly not a functional political system. It is essential that the SNP now strike out decisively for Scottish Independence. Westminster will never be held in more contempt by the public, so there will never be a better time to assert the right of the Scottish people to decide for themselves on Independence without being blocked by Westminster. Ian Blackford was very good on this yesterday.

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party is not a chance; it is based on popular reaction to the failure of the UK political system to satisfy the needs of, and deliver a fair society for, the general population. Despite desperate Establishment attempts to smear the Left, I suspect these underlying factors may still propel Corbyn to victory. He needs to come to terms rapidly with Scotland’s right to self-determination, and stop regarding Scots as an irritant.

In looking at yesterday’s events in grim despair, in regarding May’s devious plans and contempt for the wider interest with profound distate, be comforted. It is all a sign that the British Establishment has its coat on a very shoogly peg. It is not long now.


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690 thoughts on “Brexit and Bad Faith

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  • OnlyHalfALooney

    From the Netherlands, my thoughts are: “So long England and thanks for Frank Spencer, Basil Fawlty, Mr Bean and all the wonderful music!”

    How did we Europeans become “the enemy” in just three years? At this rate we’re going to have to send out naval patrols to protect EU waters.

    • OnlyHalfALooney

      Just a note (a bit off topic). The appalling Guardian has a big blurb about Bellingcat on its online front page (“Today in focus”). The documentary about Bellingcat was shown on Dutch TV. Any slightly skeptical person would conclude that Mr Brown Moses is some sort of intelligence asset. They spotted Buk launchers using Google Earth? What a coincidence! Come on, get real!

      I really think the Guardian has become a mouthpiece for the UK intelligence services. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it turned out that the Apartheid government in South Africa had infiltrated the “opposition” press and the editor of the “Sunday Times” (the largest “non-nationalist” newspaper) was a actually a government spy. Wasn’t it also a “coincidence” that the Guardian booked David Miranda (Glen Greenwald’s partner) a flight through Heathrow where he could be arrested?

          • .Peter

            It has impartial writers like Luke Harding writing for it.
            That is a heavy dose of sarcasm. Like Trump being a diplomat..

        • Goose

          That paper may never regain its status. Guardian and Observer journalists get to vote on next editor-in-chief. Kath Viner has eased out good well-respected investigative journalists and hired so many journos associated with the right for eg., Rowena Mason from the telegraph is now deputy political editor and Matthew d’Ancona, again a former deputy editor of The Sunday Telegraph…there are many more examples. The rightward drift of that paper seems secure. Investigative reporting seems to consist of exposing dodgy Russians, it’s hardly ever domestic now. I doubt they’d touch the Snowden stuff, were a similar situation to arise.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          The Telegraph used to fulfil that role but the BTL comments showed that their cover was blown.

          Perhaps Guardian readers are still naive and wet behind the ears?

    • Baron

      Are you only half loony, OnlyHalfALoony?

      What makes you think you are the enemy? You meaning the unwashed of Europe, the ordinary people of the Old Continent, those governed by a bunch of unelected Brussels bureaucrats but ostensibly happy about it. You are not, never have been.

      What the majority of people here voted for is sovereignty, independence, the right to vote those who make the laws in and out of office. It has been thus for centuries, it isn’t perfect but it’s immeasurably better that being governed by unelected apparatchiks, more often than not politicians who failed in their own countries, got shifted to the Brussels construct to make money as a compensation.

      • OnlyHalfALooney

        Anyone would think the European Parliament doesn’t exist and Juncker was elected in much the same way as your PM… Anyone would think that every EU member state has a veto on major decisions (including to grant the UK an art.50 extension).

        • JeremyG

          The EU is not the same as Europe. I hope the British can still be friends with the Europeans after Brexit.

          One issue with the EU is how remote it is from the electorate. Whoever the British people vote for, we cannot change EU policies. We cannot stop the EU becoming an EU superstate, we cannot stop the EU army or FoM.

          We cannot change the supposedly civil servants who lead the EU such as Juncker & Tusk. Cameron tried with Juncker but failed. Why are these people so high profile if only civil servants?

          Why is it only the unelected (by the people) Commission that get to introduce legislation? Why do they hold their meetings in secret? Is the EU really answerable to the people as in a true democracy?

          What I find odd is how the Scots quite rightly IMO want their independence, but then want to give up their sovereignty to the EU. That doesn’t make sense but each to their own I suppose.

        • Forthestate

          “Juncker was elected in much the same way as your PM”. No he wasn’t, and irrespective of anyone’s views on Brexit, I wish people would stop peddling this falsehood. The Prime Minister of this country is always an elected MP, and a member of the party elected to govern. Every PM is elected as an MP directly by the people of their constituency, this being the only source of legitimate power in a liberal democracy. Their election to the leadership of the party is an internal affair, but their right to represent the electorate is established directly by the electorate. This is very far from Mr Junker’s position; as the EU’s leading bureaucrat, he has not received a single direct vote from the electorate, and given that he is, individually, unaccountable to the parliament that elected him, since the EP has no power to remove any single member of the Commission from office (it can only dissolve the entire Commission), his democratic credentials are even further from those of our PMs. This is so, whatever my views on Brexit. There is a well documented democratic deficit at the heart of the EU that goes much deeper than this, that is acknowledged at its highest levels, and that it is pointless to deny. Pretending that Junker arrives at the most powerful post in the EU by the equivalent democratic route to that of our PMs is nonsense.

          • Clark

            “The Prime Minister of this country is always an elected MP”

            But that’s trivial to manipulate by ensuring that the party leader is in a safe seat constituency.

          • Forthestate

            @Clark “But that’s trivial to manipulate by ensuring that the party leader is in a safe seat constituency.” I repeat, the PM of this country is an MP elected by the people, irrespective of your lack of respect for the democratic basis of those peoples’ vote on the grounds of the seat being safe (a position which is, ultimately, contemptuous of the electorate), and the President of the European Commission receives no such mandate, never having faced the people – the only source of legitimate power in a liberal democracy. To pretend that there is a democratic equivalence between the two routes to those posts reveals a deep ignorance of democracy. In one case, the people had a direct choice. In the other, they had none whatsoever. Spot the difference?

          • Reg

            Clark, nonsense
            You still have the opportunity to not vote for a leader of a prospective PM by not voting for the party. For example I refused to vote for Labour while Blair or Gordon Brown was party leader. In the EU you do not even have this choice.

        • Reg

          The EU parliament is almost an irrelevance that rubber stamps legislation put before it by the EU commission. The EU parliament cannot put forward legislation so cannot stand on a manifesto and has to co vote with the unelected Council of the European Union on legislation enforced by the EU commission with the European Court of Justice. Junkers is not a good example given the level of corruption and the revolving doors in the EU.

          Junkers blocked EU legislation against tax avoidance as he was previously prime minister of a tax haven Luxembourg as was proved in the luxleaks scandal. FFS Mandelson was a EU commissioner after he was too toxic to be elected.

          “Jean-Claude Juncker blocked EU curbs on tax avoidance, cables show ”
          https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/01/jean-claude-juncker-blocked-eu-curbs-on-tax-avoidance-cables-show

          The veto is undemocratic as it ensures that when neo-liberal measures are introduced, it is impossible to repeal them due to the need for unanimity. Germany also used its position as a trade surplus creditor country to force compliance from deficit countries with debt. Hell, a lot of the structures in the EU have no formal basis, such as the Eurogroup that does not take minutes, the Trokia and the the off balance sheet special purpose vehicles (similar to financial derivatives in the financial crisis) such as the EFSM, ESM, EFSF and the GLF to ensure a total lack of accountability and to keep these debts off of EU accounts, rather like ENRON. They also borrow at low interest rates and lend at much higher rates like any cheap loan shark and enable the grabbing of Greek assets at fire sale prices like any vulture fund. No, the process of electing the head of the EU commission is far more currupt, with less restrictions on lobbying and on a revolving door such as Jose Manuel Barroso disappearing off to Goldman Sachs, and the present ECB President a former Managing director at Goldman Sachs. The same GS that arranged the Greek debt swap deal that the EU pretended to know nothing about. The process for passing legislation in the EU is if anything even more currupt than in the UK. The European Round table of Industrialists after all practically wrote the Single European Act.

          “Goldman Sachs executive Jose Manuel Barroso, a former top EU chief, in row over Brussels lobbying ”
          https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/21/goldman-sachs-executive-jose-manuel-barroso-a-former-top-eu-chief-in-row-over-brussels-lobbying.html

          https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/24/greek-debt-crisis-great-greece-fire-sale

          The corruption in lobbying in the EU is covered in the Documentary, ” The Brussels Business, who runs the EU”
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMuUEd6w54E

          And in this weeks renegade inc. on RT, ‘Myth busting the European dream’
          https://www.rt.com/shows/renegade-inc/453503-european-dream-economy-challenge/

          Bad faith does not even begin to cover it.

      • Wellington

        Europe being the Enemy has been the default stance of the English for centuries. First it was the evil Spanish and their Armada which got tired of the English Pirates. Then it was France, both before and after Bony. Then it became the Germans for the better part of a century. It seems that a large swath of the Tory Party has always hated Europe, they opposed entry into the EU and fought bitter campaigns for a long time to force an exit from the EU. If the Europeans are surprised that they are now ‘suddenly’ the enemy, then they haven’t been paying attention to the English for a very long time.

        The English have had a culture built on hatred for a very long time. The only surprise is that both the Europeans and the Scots still seem to be surprised by this. One would have thought they’d have known better after all this time? Maybe they got fooled by the myth that now the English only hated the Russians?

        • Yr Hen Gof

          To be fair the English hatred of ‘others’ goes back well before Tudor times.
          They hated the Welsh, Scottish and Irish before deciding that France really belonged to them and a hundred years war was necessary to prove it.
          The tribal enmity still remains and many people would blame the London based media for reinforcing it.
          Whether they are aware of it or not they are frequently guilty of promoting a sense of entitled superiority.
          I write as someone with a foot in each camp, having had a Welsh father and an English mother.

    • Tony Hazzard

      From my understanding, the referendum wasn’t about leaving Europe but rather about leaving the governance of the political body known as The European Union, so Europeans haven’t become the enemy.

      • Andyoldlabour

        Tony Hazzard

        This a million times over. I love Europe, I love travelling to Europe and I have met many lovely Europeans. I cannot stand the EU and the people who are currently in charge of it. They view the EU as a huge state where individual countries have to do the bidding of the EU or else face sanctions – Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia on immigration, Italy, Greece on budgets.
        How is a miniscule, corrupt (money laundering and tax evasion on a massive scale) country like Luxembourg able to exert such influence on much larger, powerful states? How has Luxembourg managed to provide more heads of the EU than any other country?
        In most clubs, the annual membership fees are broadly the same for everyone, so why are we and three or four other countries propping up another twenty or so?

        • Mary Pau!

          Andy I have some sympathy with you here. I am in addition concerned about some important implications for freedom of movement, not as they affect the UK, but their impact on the eastern European countries as a result of the mass exodus to the weit of the brightest, best and best educated, from countries like Romania. Then there is the issue of posted workers and their rights.

          These are issues which the keen Remainers do not want to discuss when it comes to the EU.

          I was watching some cycle road racing on TV the other day. They were asking leading riders to talk about 4 or 5 phoos which meant a lot to them
          the German sprinter Marcel Kittel, produced a photo of himself as a child and said it was taken in what was then East Germany where he was born, as were his parents. He said German reunification and the uniting of to East and West Germany, remained a very important issue in Germany. I thought this was telling as it showed one of the reasons why freedom of movement is so important to Germans. The history of the uK turns on quite different perspectives.

          Also there is the fact that the UK is at the very least divided over Brexit and in fact most of England voted for it. Is it really realistic to expect Labour MPs to deny the choice made by a majority of their voters?

    • Jack

      OnlyHalfALooney

      No. You have it wrong,
      UK belong to europe, thus they are europeans. Europe is a continent you know.
      If anything, alot of brittish people have issue with the EU, not Europe itself.

  • Daisy Walker

    Terrible May’s deal is something the British Establishment can live with – because it allows some trade, outwith the jurisdiction of the ECJ (and therefore saves them from the Tax Haven Laws). It also makes it look like they’ve been trying.

    No Deal is their preferred option, as it allows for the wholesale sell off of what remains of the UK’s public assets – a quick buck for the faithful.

    Both lead to a degree of chaos, which in turn will lead to a state of emergency, and under those laws – the closure of Holyrood at least until they can dismantle any real threat of IR2 (or any other legal means of dismantling Westminsters rule).

    And over on the Island of Ireland… reunification is becoming more and more likely.

    Away from the Pantomime at WM…. suspicious packages were sent to 2 or 3 sites within the UK – allegedly from the IRA. What is really, really interesting is that one was sent to Glasgow.

    Both the IRA and the UDA NEVER, EVER targeted Scotland. So why would they now, we never instigated Brexit, and Police Scotland’s Black and Tans 2.0 have not yet been deployed.

    In order to instigate a state of emergency, they’re going to need a series of incidents – such as food shortages/riots…. and what else?

    What looks like chaos of Brexit, is really a coup, and thoroughly well planned.

      • Derek Smalls

        ”Away from the Pantomime at WM…. suspicious packages were sent to 2 or 3 sites within the UK – allegedly from the IRA. What is really, really interesting is that one was sent to Glasgow.

        Both the IRA and the UDI NEVER, EVER targeted Scotland. So why would they now, we never instigated Brexit, and Police Scotland’s Black and Tans 2.0 have not yet been deployed.”

        Days before an official announcement on whether to prosecute British soldiers for murdering civil rights marchers in cold blood in Derry, the ”IRA” decide to mail some fire crackers…………….silence for two decades and then mail some letters over the water days before the British Army will be held account for murdering civilians in front of the world.

        As believable as the Skripal stuff.

        Apparently there is still one letter/package unaccounted for. It will be a mere ”coincidence” if it appears on the day the prosecution services of North Ireland make their announcement on the faith of the para’s. Move the news cycle on.

        A reunited Ireland is inevitable in the coming years. The political route and demographics guarantees this. Only one side benefits from the return of violence and terror to the island and it ain’t the nationalist side. Lets hope these lunatics who terrorize on behalf of the ruling class of Britain fail in their attempts. Us mere ‘plebs’ on both sides of the sea gain absolutely nothing from their parasitic greed and mindless violence. We only ever lose.

        • Francis U.

          I always like the original British “House of Cards” better than the American version.

          The British version of course featured a PM who set off bombs at politically convenient times. I always felt it was a shame that the American House of Cards in the post-911 era couldn’t have the bravery to include a similar theme of politically opportunistic terrorist attacks. But I suppose that would never made it past the Pentagon and CIA script approvals that review what Hollywood puts out these days.

    • Squeeth

      The only thing wrong with no deal is that the Tories control it but then, they’ve controlled everything since 1976 so no change there.

      • giyane

        Squeeth

        Yes. The only problem is the Tories.
        And the unfortunate tendency of the British electorate to spontaneously algowrithe to the music of the upper classes. Without the Tories almost everything and anything would be fine.

        As to Scotland it is an ‘other’ which the tories utilise for their own trumpian purposes , Scots being knobbly kneed and dress in tweed. Obviously a northern species of wig with red skin and not to be trusted

      • giyane

        Kemp

        Is that pure false flag news fresh from the manufacturer’s, or something you have concocted yourself?

        A new problem certainly the problem of Mrs May “s second massive defeat requiring urgent supplies of terror scares for her fickle DUP friends?

    • Tarla

      There is a major provisions in the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act to impose a border on the island of Ireland due to ‘border security concerns’ to check goods and people. By hook or by crook, the UK will impose a border on the island of Ireland, so as to damage the Irish economy, because they had the audacity to think of themselves before the interests of the UK. It’s been their back up plan all along, designed before the Skripal incident but given added ‘meaning and urgency’ by their rhetoric that ‘foreign powers are attacking the UK’ i.e Russia.
      The ‘devices’ sent from Ireland are very very convenient at this moment to bang the ‘terrorist threat’ drum so ‘we need to check the movement of people’ – not allowed under the Good Friday Agreement.
      The ‘security’ issue is allowed by the WTO ‘preferential treatment protocol in relation to checking goods. That is, they can check goods on the island of Ireland but don’t have to at Dover for example – which would cripple the UK economy because of ‘threats to national security’ The Tories have covered all bases and the ‘devices’ has come as a godsend at this crucial time. The government’s latest tariff announcement that goods will not be checked on the island of Ireland but in the Irish sea – the UK will cause the DUP to explode.
      May’s deal is the only deal that will keep the UK together for the time being. Northern Ireland will stay in the EU and so will the UK. It’s kicked the can down the road. The break up of the UK is becoming more and more of a reality growing stronger by the day.

      • Dungroanin

        There are well over two hundred crossing points between NI and Eire

        There are lot fewer between the EU and the rest of Eurasia in its Eastern borders.

        Do the arithmetic. Unless you want to deploy tens of thousands of armed military in NI and therefore have a daily skirmish it will never happen – never mind that the GFA probably has precedence as an international treaty that Westminster is a GUARANTOR of. Some experts here may be able to confirm it.

    • carmel townsend

      Similarly, the IRA didn’t target Wales either, so I’d imagine the Glasgow “suspicious” package is bogus!

  • Squeeth

    “Hard Brexit deal”? My Ricky Tomlinson; it’s a fake deal which passes on the responsibility for maintaining the status quo to Brussels, leaving the boss class with even less to do than spend my money.

    • AliB

      I followed your link- to a book endorsed by far right Brexiteers such as JR-M. From the text comes this gem: “there is no reason why trade between Ireland and the UK cannot be frictionless, even outside of the customs union. ‘As long as the UK invests heavily in new technology and border staff,”
      forgive me, but why would we need border staff if there was no border infrastructure or if they were not going to intervene?- are they to sit somewhere else and read the paper? This seems a complete contradicition- but then that is par for the course – more unicorns. The text also suggests post Brexit considerable investment in housing and infrastructure- as far as I’m aware the EU has not stopped the UK Government from doing any of these things it is our austerity government that refuses to invest and to dismantle the state- all of which JR-M has always endorsed. I’ve never heard him suggest we should be investing- indeed he has been busy moving parts of his Investment company to Dublin. Yet another unicorn floats by though as they also suggest that ” a reduction and simplification of the UK tax regime; ” – so we are going to significantly reduce taxes but somehow make considerable investments.
      Anyone who saw the Dispatches programme on who is already making millions out of Brexit can rest assured that the rich will be delighted to have their taxes further reduced and not be bothered by the EU’s demand to close down tax havens.

        • Greg Park

          Yes the title Conservatives has long been a complete misnomer for that party. But they very definitely are on the far right of the European political spectrum. Ideological extremists who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

        • Yr Hen Gof

          If you examine the DWP’s treatment of the physically and mentally disabled I think you might reassess your description of the Tories as right of centre socialists.
          I see no evidence that the Tories have much interest in the redistribution of wealth, welfare or the social ownership of production, however it might be designed.
          I see them more in the way of early medieval feudal barons, primarily interested in further increasing their wealth and influence whist tipping a nod to their pimps in Israel, Saudi, the US and the City of London.

  • Casual Observer

    Any extension of the leave date will come with lots of strings, and payments to be made, ergo,the only choice the UK will be left with is to rescind its Article 50 declaration. At that point it would be likely that the whole game would start again from scratch ? So a few more years of the same noisy minority who will be happy that their vision of Britain Reborn was not exposed for the Crock it was 🙂

  • Adrian Parsons

    “But it is not what May wants personally as it breaks her “red lines”, all of which are entirely predicated on stopping Free Movement. Hatred of imigrants remains the defining motive of her entire career. Customs Union and Single Market access are not going to be obtainable without Free Movement.”

    Why is it so hard for the intellectual working class/”middle class”, those comprising the “Chomsky 10%” who are educated to the highest level to fill positions in the State apparatuses and the professions (including teachers/university lecturers/”educators” and diplomats!), to understand that “open borders” for capital, goods and labour-power represent an additional threat to the conditions of existence of the manual working class over and above those that have been constant since the Industrial Revolution?

    Why do they insist that the latter’s objections are based on anything but economic grounds?

    Why do they insist, on the contrary, that their grounds must be xenophobic or racist?

    Awa’ an’ bile yer heid.

    • Casual Observer

      Quite right what you say. Immigration from the EU has fallen significantly, but the total has remained much the same with non EU types making up the difference. Trouble is of course that most of the Non EU immigration is from areas that are likely to supply folk who will work even cheaper than central and eastern Europeans ? And will continue to do so from now until doomsday in all likelihood. We can at least assume that as the former Marxist satellites make economic progress, it will make little sense for their natives to seek to work in places other than home.

    • craig Post author

      Your argument depends, Adrian, on the idea that the economy is a fixed size and immigration does not expand it. If your argument were true, working class people in the USA and Germany would be the lowest paid in the World. Sadly your argument is utter bollocks.

      • craig Post author

        In fact it is much worse than bollocks. It is the argument by which the poor have for centuries had their ire diverted from the people who are exploiting them, into racism.

        • Casual Observer

          So what remains of the ‘Working Class’ in Britain have not had their bargaining position weakened by the free movement of folk who would work for lower sums ?

          I’m in favour of the Single Market, but there can be no doubt that certain sectors have been impacted by it ? Luckily the effects will decline as time goes on (if we’re still in it).

        • Adrian Parsons

          As a Marxist for 45+ years, I am well aware of how the Capitalist mode of production operates at both the economic and ideological levels. It follows that I am aware that nationalism is “radical” in only limited, specific political conjunctures (the post-WW2 anti-colonial struggles, leaving the EU) and thereafter leaves the State(s) dealing with all the problems associated with surviving in a Capitalist world order; that the “populist” manual working class movements that have emerged over the past decade are only “radical” in so far as, and as long as, they attack open borders for capital, goods and labour, all as vital for the continued “success” of neo-liberalism as private property is for the Capitalist mode of production itself; that these movements are not in the class interests of the intellectual working class who, in contrast to the manual working class (whose conditions of existence have been under constant threat from increasingly sophisticated mechanisation since Day 1 of the Industrial Revolution), are only just starting to appreciate that their conditions of existence are threatened by AI.

          With the exception of their Communist constituency, the intellectual working class have not given a flying one about the 200 years’ battle of the manual working class to maintain, let alone improve, their conditions of existence. They maintain this attitude today with their demands that the UK remain within the EU. What sticks in the craw is their claim that they do so from a position of high moral principle (anti-bigotry in all its forms) when it is nothing more than a question of promoting their own class interests.

          I would describe their attitude more accurately, but this comment would be removed.

      • Adrian Parsons

        The point is not whether immigration increases the size of a nation-State’s economy (of course it does) but what effect unrestricted immigration from poorer to richer countries has on the native manual working class populations. It is precisely this point that “open borders” advocates such as yourself do not address, or, if they do, do so by maintaining that, of all commodities, only labour-power is not affected by the law of supply and demand, i.e. that an oversupply of labour power does not suppress or lower wage levels!

        • Andyoldlabour

          Adrian Parsons

          Quite correct, an endless supply of cheap resources – imported labour, will eventually drive down wages in not just the unskilled sectors, but then start affecting the skilled technical sectors, science for instance. At my wife’s company, developing medical devices, there are many dgree qualified people earning slightly more than the new minimum wage – £17K, and yes, they are importing qualified staff from Eastern Europe to fill those positions.

          • Some Random Passer-by

            A local call centre will not take you on unless you’re trained to degree standard. The money is above minimum wage (just), but is swept clean every new year to keep operating costs down (just after Christmas, the lucky sods…)

            The warehouse is the only chance ne’er do wells have , and the conditions/pay/hours are appalling.

            Brexit has allowed me to see the middle class in a different light, they are clearly my enemy.

        • giyane

          Family credit and working tax credit top up emploers” stingy wages allowing managers to cream off millions.

          They also attract immigrants which gunnily enough keeps employers happy. But to say that immigration is the main component of wage reduction is as Craig says bollocks.

          The main cause of low wages is the benefits that enable people to just survive. Your Marxist dogma doesn’t permit the possibility of socialist policy causing capitalists to thrive.

          If you remove the rosy tints you might be able to see the red in tooth and claw neo-con capitalism.
          Immigration does not harm people
          Tory lies and financial manipulation do.

          • Adrian Parsons

            The primary cause of low wages is the mechanism by which the Capitalist mode of production operates: the extraction of surplus value in one of its three forms – profit – which is nothing other than unpaid labour-power. Marx (and Engels) took c.4,000 pages to explain this process (and its wider ramifications) in the Grundrisse, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Capital Volumes 1-3 and Theories of Surplus Value, a body of work which all “intellectuals” hostile to Marxist economic theory have studied assiduously before offering their one-paragraph refutations of its naivety! We thank them for their diligence and rigour. A succinct summary, however, is to be found in Ernest Mandel’s An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory (1967) (https://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1967/intromet/index.htm).

            In addition to this existential cause, government policies can, as you point out, simultaneously suppress wage levels and increase the profit margin of employers through subsidies of one kind or another.

            A third cause of wage suppression/reduction is the oversupply of labour-power, often the result of unregulated immigration. A Nobel Prize for economics awaits your proof that labour-power, alone of all commodities, is not subject to the law of supply and demand!

            I am not aware of claiming that “…immigration is the main component of wage reduction…”, nor of being unable to recognise the true nature of neo-liberalism. I will not comment on your other assertions.

        • Dungroanin

          Wages are set by the bosses – how many have seen theirs drop because of EU (or any immigration).

          If they paid minimum and realistic wages instead of taking advantage if the incomers and locals there would be no degradation of all the workers.

          Though the bosses may finally suffer some for the first time in decades.

      • Stephen Ambartzakis

        Immigration from third world countries has never been known to expand first world countries’ economies, I’m afraid

      • John

        And yours depends on all these workers being educated at someone else’s expense and returning home when they cease to be productive. Freedom of movement is divide and rule.

    • giyane

      Adrian Parsons

      I am in Iraq on holiday with my Iraqi wife. My children travel the world earning their living abroad . Why is your world so small? Or is it your mind? That you cannot appreciate the humanity beyond your own blinkered confines?

      What kind of weird agrophobia refuses to ever engage with people from other lands?
      I don’t understand

      • Adrian Parsons

        I hope from my replies above that you will understand that being against unrestricted immigration is not equivalent to being racist or xenopohobic. You are falling for the disingenuous arguments of the “open borders” brigade.

      • Night Warbler

        I understand and accept that unrestricted movement of labour can be a problem, specifically for manual workers already living in the country of destination. What I don’t understand is how proponents of so-called “Lexit” imagine tearing up all our trade agreements and starting from scratch, and causing a presumably severe shock to the British economy, will actually help those negative affected by free movement of labour. It seems to me that we already have the mechanism to control movement of labour to some extent, but the Tories chose, for whatever reasons, to not employ those mechanisms.

      • Night Warbler

        giyane

        I think the point is that not everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of free movement, especially if they have grown up in a deprived area with no access to a decent education, and little or no chance of achieving the qualifications which would otherwise afford them those life chances. I can well imagine that anyone in that situation will not be dreamy eyed about freedom of movement. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment of your comment, and think the principle of affording people the chance to encounter other cultures and “broaden their horizons” , so to speak, is a fine and important one. Unfortunately, in the unequal society that we inhabit the reality is that it is an ideal that is out of reach for many, and for those stuck in this situation the benefits of freedom of movement are not easily discernable.

    • Clark

      Yes, let’s make the borders harder and the territories smaller. When at last we’re each confined to our own postcode, we’ll all have high wages.

    • Antonym

      As long as debate about immigration stays as non specific as “non EU” as a single category out of fear for “discrimination!” it stays beating around the bush.

      Just like the child sex abuse rings were run by “Asians” and the victims were “UK girls”.
      Bloody Japanese, poor Begums!

  • John Goss

    “Westminster will never be held in more contempt by the public, so there will never be a better time to assert the right of the Scottish people to decide for themselves on Independence without being blocked by Westminster.”

    Independence for Scotland and a Brexit deal for the UK (as it is now) would be as fraught with problems as Ireland is, creating yet another border, and leaving we English & Welsh well and truly in the mire – a reduced market. I am not sure a soft Brexit would sail through – and even if it did there is no time left to negotiate such a deal. I can see your viewpoint from a Scottish angle but for those who voted to continue sharing the benefits of a united Europe it would be a kick in the teeth.

    Is it not fair that if Scotland (who voted to remain in the UK) could have a second referendum, that the UK (who narrowly voted to leave the EU and is now much better informed) also has the right to a second referendum?

    • Milllsy

      John Goss :
      So , you are saying , because the English people don’t get a crack at voting again in an EU referendum then Scotland cannot get another referendum ? You are hamstrung by an archaic parliamentary/voting system – as are we in Scotland , but we have the chance through independence to escape it . Would you deny us this chance ? It is a little like being denied a place in a lifeboat on a sinking ship simply because you can’t get on – so everyone must drown !

  • Courtenay Barnett

    From the Caribbean – seems to me that with BREXIT – the Pound will sink and the British economy will suffer severely – and Scotland will go her own way.

    Best immediate route forward:-

    1. General election
    2. Second referendum.

    • Jack

      I think both choices are problematic,
      Primarly – there was a referendum and the vote should be respected,
      Both parties simply have to work on this, bipartisan, and solve and commit to the democratic will.

      • John Goss

        There’s no time to “solve” and we cannot “commit to the democratic will” with a deal that leaves us bereft. Those who voted to leave and those who voted to remain did not understand the complexities of leaving. We do now and it is time for a second referendum.

        People change their minds. Otherwise we’d be stuck with the shower of clowns we have now running the country.

          • Some Random Passer-by

            We’ve had Tories since Thatcher. They wore different colours at times, but the policies were identical

        • Jack

          John Goss

          EU makes it harder than it needs to, thats why, also the politicians have an obligation to carry through this vote.
          Second referendum is like saying, we dont like the result so have another one where the remainers will likely win. Conclusion is, one cannot leave the EU and one cannot trust the democratic system.

        • Glasshopper

          Much is talked about “the complexities of leaving”, not so much about the long term effects of remaining.

          The EU has made no secret of it’s long term plans, and they go well beyond what most remainers i know would welcome.
          In my view, even a remain win in a “people’s vote” would not change much. The UK would still be half out, causing havoc for the EU and would be off again any time at short notice.

          There are so many icebergs up ahead, i can’t see how remainers can claim the “status quo” is a reality. There’s climate change in the south, banks in Germany and Italy, a new migrant crisis on steroids to name but three. Oh, and Ireland will lose it’s tax status soon and be stuffed with high wages and corporations leaving.

          The risks of remaining are huge, and need to be acknowledged.

      • giyane

        Jack

        Why does May not respect a – 150 democratic vote against her stupid deal and let the people decide based on what we now understand.

        It’s so irritating people like you playing the same looped sound track over and over again As If it makes more sense the eight hundred millionth time?

        • MJ

          “let the people decide based on what we now understand”

          What do we now understand? I suppose we now understand a little more about parliamentary procedure and that the current crop of MPs are not fit for purpose.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        Jack, you said:-

        “I think both choices are problematic,
        Primarily – there was a referendum and the vote should be respected,”
        John Goss expressed the very thought that sprung to mind when I read your reply.

        Of course, if people didn’t change their minds – then why have an election – “the vote should be respected,” – permanently?

        Second referendum – methinks.

          • Night Warbler

            Jack

            It’s patently not quite that simple or we’d have a deal already, no? There are a number of different ways of still being “in” some more “I’m” and some more “out”. And as they are a huge trading bloc on our doorstep are you saying we should sever all ties completely and find new trade deals elsewhere? That would seem counterintuitive to me.

          • Jack

            Night Warbler

            Yes being out you are deprived of certain things from that union no doubt.
            In the end also, another debate, is if the EU trade policies of today, benefit the workers. I do not think so personally and that is also one reason why people want to leave.

      • Deb O'Nair

        “there was a referendum and the vote should be respected”

        Why should the vote be respected when the *advisory* referendum leave campaign was run illegally by a bunch of liars with massive media support and who managed to con around one third of the electorate? An EU referendum campaign, if you remember, that eventually disintegrated into a popularity contest between a pair of Etonians engaged in ego-driven schoolboy rivalries.

        If your granny was conned out her life savings in the same manner would you say that the financial transaction should be respected?

        • Jack

          Deb O’Nair

          The vote should be respected because I belive in democracy. Period.

          As far as “run illegally” “bunch of liars” “massive media support” “con around”, I dont know what you talk about specifically,
          people are not stupid, the negative view on the EU came way before there was even a thought of having a vote to begin with and have nothing to do with an alleged dirty campaign.

      • Laguerre

        “the vote should be respected,”

        May herself has decided not to respect parliament’s vote, so why should a slight referendum majority be sacred.

        • Jack

          Laguerre

          Not at all. They have reject the deal, she hasnt claimed she will follow through regardless of this rejection.

          Well I think democracy is important, you do not think its such a deal apparently.
          Slight or not, that is how democracy works sorry to tell you.

    • Giambologna

      A second referendum is a terrible idea, whichever side you are on. Think of the consequences.

      a) another majority for Leave – same problems over again.
      b) small majority for Remain – leave voters angered and request a third referendum
      c) lower turnout than first vote – is it as valid as first vote?
      d) any result will create more division in society

      No solutions in any case, unless very unlikely scenario that one side wins massively on a larger turnout than first vote.

      • John Goss

        The points you make are valid. What should have been done with the first referendum was to have some kind of parameters to ensure the result was not a flash in the pan (like there must be a 60% majority either way for the result to be valid). That did not happen. I hope they do something like that with the next referendum.

      • giyane

        A General election is not a second referendum. It is an opportunity for May to be taught a lesson in manners for deliberately twisting brexit into her weird racist mindset instead of seeing brexit as a purely political decision to leave the EU. Unbelievable!

      • michael norton

        Giambologna
        if yet another referendum was called and any result other than Leave winning, would create terrific trouble in the U.K.
        look at the state of France, do we want that sort of lunacy on our streets?

        • wonky

          “if yet another referendum was called and any result other than Leave winning, would create terrific trouble in the U.K.”
          Correct, but…
          “look at the state of France, do we want that sort of lunacy on our streets?”
          ..what is happening in France is not lunacy, but the bright yellow expression of reason!

          • Greg Park

            For some, anything but passive consumption of the elite’s Neo-Liberal medicine is ‘lunacy’. It’s just the way their mums put their heads on.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        “lower turnout than first vote ”

        I wager that there would be an enormous turn out – because everyone would be passionate and concerned to make a “right” final decision this time round.

        • Casual Observer

          Probably be lower, simply because the trick played by Cummings and his Cambridge Analytica pals would not be available a second time around. Which would no doubt lead to the ‘Disengaged’ reverting to their normal stance ?

          The only realistic option from a political standpoint is to reset the clock to zero and start again ? In another 5 years memories will have faded, and the demographic will have changed.

          • Deb O'Nair

            What about the ‘trick’ played by the BBC hours before the polls closed? They called the result for remain, thereby ensuring many late voters who supported remain stayed firmly on their sofas.

      • MJ

        I suppose it depends on the question. The only meaningful question would be Deal or No Deal. Problem there is that there is no deal to consider because parliament has consigned it to the dustbin.

  • Sean Lamb

    Just hearing Theresa May on the radio and she sounded like death warmed up.

    But then this was Hillary Clinton a few days after a former ambassador flew to Washington DC to discuss the subject of DNC emails with an unidentified person
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se6PrO_PrMA
    And she seems to be doing fine these days. So shoogly or not, the Establishment is generally more resilient than we would like to admit

  • frankywiggles

    Yes may’s effort to pretend tonight’s vote in any way rules out no deal is characteristically cynical and dishonest. Characteristics of May that are brazenly ignored by her loyal state broadcaster.

    Good piece yesterday by Fintan o’Toole on how May’s effort to appease both Dublin and the DUP has ultimately scuppered a deal with Brussels.
    “Brexit become a pale thing: second-class EU membership. The Great Escape became a supervised stroll in the prison yard.”
    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-green-and-orange-will-equally-make-brexitopians-see-red-1.3821870?mode=amp

    • pete

      I think what Craig has written is largely correct. I have no idea how this saga will turn out and even less idea about how the negotiations might be usefully resolved. “The Great Escape” is hopefully a poor analogy, it did not turn out well for most of the escapees:

      “ Within two weeks, the Nazis had recaptured 73 of the escapees. Only three men successfully fled to safety—two Norwegians who stowed away on a freighter to Sweden and a Dutchman who by rail and foot ended up in Gibraltar.
      A furious Adolf Hitler personally ordered the execution of 50 of the escapees as a warning to other prisoners. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Gestapo drove the airmen … to remote locations and murdered them. “Escaping from prison camps has ceased to be a sport,” read posters the Nazis put up in the POW camps to warn future escapees that they would be shot on sight. In 1947, a military tribunal found 18 Nazi soldiers guilty of war crimes for shooting the recaptured prisoners of war, and 13 of them were executed.” https://www.history.com/news/remembering-the-great-escape-70-years-ago

  • N_

    It says something about the insanity of UK politics that the debate quite seriously hinged around discussions of what happens if the EU acts in bad faith and used the ‘backstop’ deliberately to trap the UK permanently in the Customs Union. The notion that the EU is acting in ‘bad faith’ is frankly ludicrous. No trading partner has ever accused the EU, which has the most transparent negotiating process on trade deals of any country or trading bloc, of acting in bad faith. In its own interest, yes. In bad faith – ie lying and tricking – no.”

    “The notion that the EU is like SPECTRE, and its leaders sit round a table headed by Blofeld Junker conjuring up evil plots to trap the UK in a customs union, is stark raving mad. It is an absolutely crazed conspiracy theory. Yet pro-EU MPs were pretending to share this conspiracy theory in order to encourage the ERG/DUP nutters to vote down May’s deal. That is madness.”

    And it is eerily reminscent of how the SNP portrays “Westminster” or “London”.

    May’s plan is to ask for a short extension after the next two days’ votes, then pretend to be renegotiating (again), and then bring back her same hard Brexit deal yet again to the Commons for yet another vote, this time with imminent and unstoppable No Deal as the only alternative, the EU having been pissed off to the point where it will not agree to any further extensions.

    If Britain is still a member of the EU on 26 May it will have to hold EU elections and that is not going to happen. (The Tory party wouldn’t be able to write a manifesto and it would be a case of “Arise Mr Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, MEP”.). If Britain is still a member on 18 April and the EU Parliament hasn’t ratified a withdrawal agreement by that date then it won’t be able to ratify one until the new Parliament convenes on 2 July, so see the above. An extension to allow for renegotiation for less than three weeks until 18 April or until some date between 30 March and 17 April would be taking the effing piss.

    Many are gobbing off about a big pile of Brexit-related legislation that still needs to be tabled. Actually around 500 pieces have already been tabled, and there aren’t many left. Those who let proceedings in the Commons chamber continue to be shown on their screens after each day’s main events will be aware of just how fast many pieces of legislation are being rushed through. John Bercow has been saying “As many as are of that opinion say ‘Aye'” as though he is trying to break a words per minute record.

    The most likely possibility is what Jacob Rees-Mogg says it is: a crashout Brexit on 29 March.

    As for Jeremy Corbyn, a man who supports the Palestinians will not be allowed to be prime minister. The rumour that he will be forced out of his office as Leader of the Opposition next week may be accurate.

  • Michael Droy

    When the majority voted for Brexit it was a clear instruction to Parliament and government to organise Brexit. In practice this means Government negotiates it and Parliament votes it through. In the meantime the Government has received a mandate in an election which includes support for it negotiating Brexit.

    May has done her bit (albeit after a disastrous intitial period when Johnson and co failed to even reach a negotiating position, let alone a deal. She should have sacked them, instead she said back Chequers or resign and go home by taxi. To a man they signed up to Chequers, took ministerial cars home, and resigned 2 days later – a loss of face that should have destroyed their careers forever).

    Parliament hasn’t. They are upset – their control has been usurped by the proles in a referendum – a higher level of democracy. Poor babies. But they have been told what to do, and really have no choice. Pretty soon they will approve the May deal.

    May is the only one who comes out of this with credit (though Corbyn’s resistance to demanding a 2nd referendum – surely the biggest insult to voters of all – does him credit).

    • Mighty Drunken

      “When the majority voted for Brexit it was a clear instruction to Parliament and government to organise Brexit.”
      A 52% vs 48% split is not a clear instruction. It indicates there is no real majority either way and a 2nd referendum may get different results. Considering most polls had Remain winning I actually think the “will of the people” is for remain. The problem is that people who work and the young are less likely to vote.

      “May is the only one who comes out of this with credit”
      Haha. May acted slowly to negotiate with the EU and ignored what they said while trying to ignore Parliment as well. May’s handling of Brexit has shown what an awful leader she is.

      • Michael Droy

        52% is enough – anything else is just a bad loser.
        “Considering most polls had Remain winning I actually think the “will of the people” is for remain. ”
        ?????????? I actually think you refuse to believe the poll – very bad loser.

      • Mary Pau!

        You can argue that the vote and the country were divided. You can argue that Brexit supporters were hoodwinked. What I do not understand is those who seem to have convinced themselves that Brexiteers lost and should be ignored.

        • Laguerre

          Bizarre idea that the Brexiters are being ignored. Their every slightest whim is being catered to, with favourable headlines every day and all day long.

          • ProfessorPlum

            In the light of the recent vote to reject NO Deal that is patent nonsense …

      • FranzB

        “The problem is that people who work and the young are less likely to vote”

        On the young, don’t forget that those in the age range 18-24 are less likely to be registered to vote as well, because they are much more mobile , or live in more precarious situations, than older voters. Not helped by a decision to end the process of mass registration of students in halls. It could also be argued that 16 and 17 year olds should have got the vote in the referendum. There were also other changes, e.g. registration on an individual basis rather than a household basis.

    • Deb O'Nair

      The idea that the referendum result represents the democratic will of the people is the biggest, hence most repeated, lie of the whole lot.

        • Deb O'Nair

          “The idea that it does not is treasonous.”

          You obviously have no concept of what treason is and democracy is not the result of a rigged referendum *against* the will of a majority of the population.

          There are many reasons why the result of the referendum is not democratic, the main one being that the majority of the British population want to remain in the EU. This has been shown time after time in opinion polls over a period of many years.

          https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2016/10/24/brexit-is-not-the-will-of-the-british-people-it-never-has-been/

          • Jack

            Deb O’Nair

            This is why it is impossible to respect the view you propose here.
            You want it because you do not like the current result that is antidemocratic and dangerous.

          • Laguerre

            Jack

            It is obvious that most commenters here are elderly retired Brexiters, you included I suppose. So anything like the needs of the future doesn’t mean much to you, and you wouldn’t have to fight if it came down to civil conflict. Antidemocracy is May demanding a third Meaningful Vote when she lost the first two. No hesitation about repeating votes there.

          • Jack

            Laguerre

            No I am not elderly but that is a preposterous thing to say anyway.
            First you have earlier claimed that democracy i.e. referendum’s arent that important, now you try to deny a big part of the population (elders) to vote. You have really lost it.

          • Deb O'Nair

            People that have been conned by provable lies and falsehoods peddled by corrupt individuals rarely like to admit it.

          • Jack

            Deb O’Nair

            So, if the remainers would have won you would have been here saying the same thing?
            Your argument is political, arbitrary, not principled. A stance always taken by the losing side of a vote.

          • Clark

            Jack, you’re making personal accusations against Deb O’Nair. There is an argument to engage with. Imputing motive and personal criticisms breach the commenting policy.

          • Jack

            Clark

            Summarizing a persons argument is not ad hominem.

            I deal with this issue on a principle level – democracy should be the most important factor.
            vs.
            someone who breach this principle i.e. referendum is not the most important factor, his/her political views,ideology is to be.

      • Rhys Jaggar

        Well no Government in the time since I was 18 has had remotely close to 52% support apart from the 2010 Coalition which many reviled.

        But of course folks like you accept 40% or less as a democratic mandate for majority rule.

        Quite how is utterly beyond me.

        • Deb O'Nair

          If there were only two political parties your point might have some validity but even then one could also argue that the electorate has the chance to change their mind after 5 years, unlike the referendum result, where only 35% of the electorate (or 20% of the population) support leaving the EU.

          • Jack

            Deb O’Nair

            So if there is a new election and the remainers win, and 3 years after that there is support for a an exit from the EU you will be here saying that a new election is needed?

  • N_

    As for the DUP, supporters of a rock hard Brexit based on a withdrawal from the customs union and the single market, and yet at the very same time supporters of a super-soft Irish border – a combination that is completely impossible unless Ireland is reunited – people have to ask how on earth this bunch of crooks can be so crazy.

    The answer is that they are not just a bunch of crooks. They are also Protestant religious nutcases who view the European Union as the Antichrist. Every time they hear about people called names such as “Donald Tusk”, “Michel Barnier”, and “Jean-Claude Juncker”, they think “PAPISTS!”

    For what it’s worth, they also think Theresa May is far enough up the candle that she’s a Papist in all but name. As for Jacob Rees-Mogg, well he may enjoy services in Latin but…let it not be said that they forget that the Pope supported King Billy at their beloved Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

    Yes all of this is contradictory but they are CRACKED.

  • Giambologna

    But Craig a Customs Union is an irrelevance, and you show no understanding of the issues by promoting the idea of a soft Brexit with a Customs Union. Turkey has a Customs Union with the EU, and yet still have huge NTBs to trading with the EU and Turkey certainly doesn’t have freedom of movement despite its Customs Union. It is the Single Market that ensures regulatory harmonization and therefore the relatively free movement of goods.

    Labour have got the Customs Union and the Single Market confused, because of the word ‘customs’ in Customs Union, which in fact has little to do with Customs. You seem to have a similar misunderstanding? Being in a Customs Union with the EU will not solve any of the no-deal problems, as NTBs will still arise in their thousands, stiffing the movement of goods and creating a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

    Why would the UK want a Customs Union with the EU? We want access to the Single Market like Norway does (inside Single Market but no Customs Union) but a Customs Union would mean we could no strike trade deals with countries outside the EU (which Norway does). It is nonsensical and you are therefore joining in with the madness of the bubble in confusing the two.

  • Tom

    Thank you for this, Craig. You have articulated what many of us have been thinking.
    It seems to me that May has never been working for any significant section of the British electorate but instead the shadowy donors and backers of the Conservative Party (many foreign-based).
    My guess is that May was always a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a hard Brexiteer installed in a soft coup the morning after the referendum, with the brief to deliver hard Brexit while posing as a moderate. Hence her refusal to work with any opposition politicians on a compromise that might have brought our nations together.
    A truly poisonous individual without scruples who must be ejected from public life before she does any more damage.

    • FranzB

      “My guess is that May was always a wolf in sheep’s clothing”

      Possibly. In her only major referendum speech she called for the UK’s withdrawal from the ECHR – which is nothing to do with the EU. She also railed against the idea of Albania, Serbia and Turkey joining the EU, and bemoaned the fact that immigration from the EU coudn’t be controlled. She said

      ” Free movement rules mean it is harder to control the volume of European immigration – and as I said yesterday that is clearly no good thing – but that does not mean we cannot control the border.” and

      “The states now negotiating to join the EU include Albania, Serbia and Turkey – countries with poor populations and serious problems with organised crime, corruption, and sometimes even terrorism.”

      The sort of thing Johnson might have said.

  • Loony

    It is true that the political system is dysfunctional – but that is bound to be the case when the political classes have totally disassociated themselves from the people they are supposed to represent. This disassociation is so extreme that those who claim to lead no longer even bother to disguise their sheer hatred and contempt for the ordinary citizenry.

    This same hatred and contempt is manifest on this blog with with bizarre and unsubstantiated claims about “hatred of immigrants” What writers of such garbage will never ever explain is whether there is an upper limit to UK population. Is it reasonable for UK population to rise to 100 million? If that is reasonable then is it reasonable for population to rise to 500 million or 1 billion or should the UK aim for a higher population than China? If so why?

    • Glasshopper

      Well said.
      Ironically, the claims of “hatred of immigrants” are coming from those from the most bigoted part of the UK. You couldn’t make it up!

    • Spencer Eagle

      This little piece pretty much says it all about our current crop of MP’s.
      …….”It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice. Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government. Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance…..Cromwell’s speech dissolving Parliament, delivered at London, England – April 20, 1653.

    • SA

      No Loony
      If Britain opens its doors to the EU citizens there would only be 500 million living in U.K. and the rest of the EU will then be depopulated. This is the subject under discussion, freedom of movement within the EU not with China or the rest of the world, which is a completely different argument. And not really well said at all.

    • ProfessorPlum

      Thanks for calling that out. This ‘hatred of immigrants’ narrative is risible. May as Home Sec. did absolutely nothing to stem the tide of immigration – not that she could anyway.

      Most immigration comes from outside the EU anyway and that is not going to change.

      It seriously makes me doubt some of the other postings such as the Skripal narrative if people can be so wrong over this. The same disdain for the working and lower classes also leave a bad taste in the mouth as witnessed by the exchange with Adrian above. This inner loathing of ‘Brits’ is also symptomatic in the remainer mindset.

      If OGH voted at all in the EU ref he voted remain and so ultimately is part of the problem as the post appears to confirm. They are elitist, anti-democratic and suffering with self-loathing of all things Brit.

    • Clark

      What May and her ilk do, along with a wide section of the corporate media, is to scapegoat immigrants. Obviously, that couldn’t work unless there were plenty of immigrants – which perfectly resolves the purported paradox that May hates immigrants while presiding over continued immigration.

      Neoliberalism, the result of forty years of creeping towards the right, is the cause of low wages, poverty, and impoverished and inadequate public services. Shame on everyone who accepts, or worse still promotes, the transparent fiction that the cause is “too much immigration”.

      • Jack

        Clark

        Is there a limit to immigration according to yourself?
        If yes, arent you ought to be ashamed of yourself wanting to curb immigration?
        If not, you yourself support the neoliberalism, which seems to evolve around immigration =/and cheap labour.

        • Clark

          Immigration is already restricted, and EU to UK immigration is a lot less than non-EU to UK.

          Cheap labour is a symptom of weak labour laws, and low tax rates for the highest incomes.

          Ultimately I’d like anyone to be allowed to live anywhere, but that can’t be permitted while there’s massive inequality of wealth. The EU provides interesting case studies. Countries join the EU to boost their economies. Upon joining, many workers emigrate to find work elsewhere. But the EU strengthens their home economy, and after a while the flow reverses.

          In the EU model, free movement of people is the human right that balances free movement of capital. It is a neoliberal model, but much better than free movement of capital alone.

          • Clark

            If you think things are bad now, you wait until the ruling classes have you captive in the UK. Remember, Brexit came from the right, the Conservatives, and UKIP for whom the Conservatives weren’t sufficiently right-wing. You don’t really think the right are pushing Brexit for the good of the workers do you?

          • Clark

            Look at which ‘news’papers are pushing Brexit, and have been carping on about the EU for decades. What’s their attitude to human rights, labour laws and the unions?

          • Jack

            Clark

            Cheap labour laws would only be possible if you have a immigration influx.
            Just look who do menial jobs.
            I do certainly not support that, that cause segregation and everything that comes with it.
            This is the “human rights” we deal with today, considering Labour’s rejection of this rhetoric it will only get worse by a leftist party in power. It is a paradox indeed, but modern leftists dont care about native works today, its all about multiculturalism and the new workers = immigrants.

          • Clark

            “Cheap labour laws would only be possible if you have a immigration influx”

            I’m sorry, I don’t understand this sentence; I don’t know what you mean by ‘cheap labour laws’. The UK currently has very cheap labour – people have to work very long hours to earn enough money, or get it topped up with Working Tax Credits, which is effectively a subsidy permitting the private sector to pay low wages. Big companies make massive profits.

            Strong unions, legal protection of workers’ rights, and a fair benefit system are what increase wages. Increasing taxes on the highest incomes decreases the incentive for silly money at the top end.

            “modern leftists dont care about native works today”

            That’s not so; read Labour’s policies. It’s about Britain investing in itself, a strong public sector, and giving the people far more influence and opportunity in the ‘news’ media . It’s not a coincidence millions of us are supporting Jeremy Corbyn. I joined the party; no way would I have joined Blair’s New Labour.

          • Jack

            Sorry, I meant the liberal labour laws in place could only work if you have cheap labour. This is the neoliberal tactic and I dont see Labour protesting,- which goes hand in hand with the pro-EU stance they have, which in the end is about the free flow of people to the best price for, especially private enterprises. This means low wages, stagnant ones.
            It is not a UK thing either, througout Europe it is the same thing, perhaps even worse. Look at the democrats in the US. Regular workers lack faith.
            Yes strong unions is needed no doubt, but how do we deal with that considering their constant diminishing past decades I dont think unions will be a signifcant factor in the coming decades.

          • Clark

            Jeremy Corbyn said he was 7 out of 10 for the EU, which is about where I stand myself. He wants to stay in the single market and the customs union, which is only right seeing as we have about three million Brits in other EU countries. People have moved, families have intermarried across Europe, and common membership of the EU did much to solve the Northern Ireland conflict by uniting North and South as EU countries. I’ve worked at dance events in Holland and Germany, a friend of mine is a sound engineer working all over Europe, my ex partner’s son is a programmer in Berlin, and has a Swedish girlfriend.

            Corbyn’s deal would let us renationalise the infrastructure companies, and let the government invest in new infrastructure, which we need for the change to renewable energy as oil and gas become more scarce and expensive.

            Yeah, do look at the US Democrats. They had the same battle there as we have here, except the wrong side won. That’s what was in the DNC e-mail leak, which is why the establishment and media created the huge “it was Russia!” lie and distraction. The US equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn is Bernie Sanders, and the Clinton campaign literally conspired with the media, and biased the timing of the primaries so that Clinton won. They even knew, from opinion polls, that Sanders had a much better chance of beating Trump than Clinton had, but they did it anyway, because Clinton is for Big Money, backed by the Wall Street financiers, whereas Sanders is old-fashioned left.

            Here, it was Corbyn versus the Blairites. There’s the Parliamentary Labour Party PLP, ie. the Labour MPs, and there’s the Constituency Labour Party CLP, ie. the members including the millions of new ones like me. The CLP now support the new leadership; it’s the PLP, the MPs from the Blair years, that tried to oust Corbyn, but the members stood firm. Hence the “anti-Semitism” smears; it’s the establisment’s last hope of preventing Labour from becoming a proper left-wing contender for government.

          • Jack

            I think one has to pick, either the nation is put as priority or globalization / neoliberalism. Living, working abroad is fun to say alteast but the primary focus should be on the nation and in the end the workers here imo.
            I hope you are right about Corbyn though,
            if you want you can leave the last reply on our debate here if you have anything more to add.

          • Clark

            Global, national, regional, local – these are descriptors of scale.

            Capitalist, socialist, neoliberal, communist – these are political descriptors.

            “I think one has to pick, either the nation is put as priority or globalization / neoliberalism”

            Yes, I know this idea is widely circulated. I don’t know who started it or is promoting it, but it looks like a distraction to me; all people must always be our priority, regardless of the rather arbitrary classifications of nation or race. Any political ideology or economic system can end up being implemented at any scale. It is possible in principle for one nation to be socialist and another to be neoliberal, but…

            “Globalism” is often used to mean global corporatism. There should be no mystery about this. Corporations, by their nature, strive to grow, to gain market and market share. To this end, they buy out competitors; they subsume them. Many corporations have thus grown to be multinational, and some are truly global in scale. Various such multinationals are now more powerful, in terms of money, than many of the world’s nations. They can play nations off against each other, forcing down wages and corporation tax, degrading working conditions and workers’ rights.

            This is a major problem; only the richest national economies are large enough to confront them, and they rarely do because big corporations have so much influence upon governments – through party donations, the “revolving door” whereby politicians are promised a non-executive directorship a year or two after they leave office, consultancy fees, outright bribery, etc. etc. etc. Money is power. This problem was obvious; I spotted it years ago, but governments did little to prevent it, and now it’s too late.

            But other ideologies can be global too; you’ve probably heard the old phrase of the left, “workers of the world unite!”, and Orwell went to fight on the side of the people in the Spanish Civil War. It was quite usual for unions to make statements of support, or even take action, on behalf of their comrades in other countries, but this has declined with the declining power of the labour movement.

            We work upon the nation states because they’re the largest, most powerful structures we have influence upon, through what little meaningful democracy remains. But to support the workers of, say, France, is to support the workers of the UK, because otherwise, cheaper labour costs in France can be exploited by multinational corporations moving their operations from the UK to France.

            Corbyn will want to retain the UK’s influence upon the EU, because this is how social power can be projected to the next higher scale, where it can be correspondingly more effective against the global corporations. There are two aspects to the relationship between corporations and political territories; the corporations wish to use the population as workers, but they also need markets in which to sell their products. Having political influence upon the largest territory, the largest market, is governments’ most powerful influence over corporations.

  • Robert Harneis

    It is precisely because the new get-out clause talks about bad faith, which is virtually unproveable and irrelevant, that Mrs May’s changes were rejected out of hand. So Brexiteers were not indulging in some insane conspiracy theory but practical politics. The European Commission (not the EU) is not Spectre but it is an undemocratic, even anti democratic, self protecting, ruthless bureaucracy – ask the Greeks and the millions of EU unemployed where the figures in some countries are worse than Iran or Egypt. For the Scottish Nationalsits to seek membership is bizarre indeed. Speaking from memory, I believe it took Norway 22 years to get out of their ‘temporary’ status. On the other hand it is true that the UK parliament is geared to deal with the debate between Left and Right, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and there is nothing surprising about what is happening. Enoch Powell predicted it with uncanny precision forty years ago: —
    “… it becomes more evident with every passing month that the issue of Britain inside or outside the Common Market is not just one issue amongst many but is the central political issue of coming years to which all roads in politics lead back.
    The battle over Britain’s existence and parliamentary independence is a battle which will be fought through to the bitter end however long it lasts. It is a battle in which no quarter will be asked and none will be given. It is a battle in the course of which all other political lines and links will continue to be overrun or broken as it surges one way or the other.
    It is a battle in which the bitterest foes of the past will stand together and the closest of old alliances be destroyed… the fight is about the continued existence of the nation itself.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRZA1-scNMg
    I am no admirer of Mrs May’s negotiating style but she has inherited a mess created by starry eyed pro-Europeans who have consistently tried to pretend to the electorate that sovereignty was not at risk, starting with Edward Heath in 1970 when he promised only to enter negotiations ‘no more no less’ and then promptly signed the Accession Act in 1972. That is where the dishonesty started.
    Listen to Tony Benn call it ‘the most bureaucratic, terrifying system in the world’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQY2CHx4d3U or George Galloway sharing a platform with Nigel Farage on the same subject and note that they both oppose nationalism.

  • Mist001

    “It is essential that the SNP now strike out decisively for Scottish Independence”

    It’s never going to happen with the current SNP leadership fighting tooth and nail to keep Scotland a part of the UK. Brexit was the golden opportunity for independence but they blew it. A new independence minded political party is required who can wake people up to the facts of independence and kick the cult into the long grass.

    Which reminds me, Nicola has been saying for months, at least 6 of them that I can remember, that she’ll be making a statement about independence in the next few weeks. Has she actually said anything other than ‘I’ll be making a statement yada yada yada’?

    • Peter N

      “It’s never going to happen with the current SNP leadership fighting tooth and nail to keep Scotland a part of the UK. Brexit was the golden opportunity for independence but they blew it.”

      I tend to agree with this and it truly saddens me to the core. I don’t think they have fully blown it quite yet, but they are heading that way fast.

      Other mistake they are making, and they have done so for years now, is to conflate a vote for independence as being also a vote for an independent Scotland as a fully member of the EU (something I don’t want). This makes me really question if I want to vote SNP ever again. However, the SNP are still the only viable route to independence at all. So what should I do?

      Other issue now is the Growth Commission Report. If the SNP go down that road then they are going to massively alienate a huge swathe of their current voter and campaigning base for independence. Sadly, I do think the SNP are heading to blow it big time.

      But, as you say, Nicola is only weeks away from making a statement on a new independence referendum. And, as you say, she has been saying that for months. Lustre of Nicola is coming off fast now.

      As to a new independence minded political party being needed it’s difficult to see how that would come about and win. The only thing on the horizon that I could see that could even attempt to do that and be in with a dog’s chance of succeeding would be if Common Weal (think tank) went down that route. They have an established record of putting out reports that make sense (and which are consistently overlooked, never even mentioned, by the SNP). Personally I would love to see them form a party and take things from there.

    • mogabee

      Ultra cautious as the SNP have been for a wee while, to accuse them of trying to keep us in Uk is risible.

      She always said she would make a statement when BRexit outcome became clear and laughably that has not been the case yet.

  • mike

    Maitlis was a disgrace last night: A mild rebuke for the Tory; a savaging for Barry Gardiner. The state broadcaster feeds that narrative that Labour is clueless about offering an alternative to the Maybot’s withdrawal agreement. But Maitlis knows this is not the case. Labour’s alternative has been clear for over a year. This does not fit the narrative, however, so it gets flushed down the memory hole.
    As I said yesterday, this is what happens in authoritarian states: the media attacks the opposition, not the Government.

    https://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/corbyn-sets-up-showdown-with-may-over-customs-union-plans-36647729.html

    • Deb O'Nair

      I noticed the body language, including the hard side-on stare out the corner of her eyes, exactly as Fiona Bruce had done to Diane Abbot on QT. It’s such a blatant display of contempt and hostility.

  • michael norton

    Whatever Mrs.Theresa May and her government do to mess the country up, does not seem to be working.
    The pound is up 0.6% against the dollar at $1.3159

    The pound is also strong against the Euro.
    Norway are going to invest 2/3 of their one trillion dollar wealth fund in the U.K.
    More oil if found off Scotland.
    More people in work than ever before.
    Inflation at all time low.
    GDP of U.K. up 1/2% in January

    Things are ticking along nicely, even with this terrible government.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    “In a free vote without party whips, that (soft Brexit with a Customs Union) would sail,through.” This is just speculation. Others have speculated that this outcome would result from a secret ballot. That seems much more probable but is neither here or there.

    “the Irish Backstop is terrible and could be permanent, neither of which anyone sensible really believes.” The temporary nature of the Backstop is of course the reality that cannot be acknowledged. Tipping the nod to the DUP that as soon as their services are not required, Customs posts will be initiated at Belfast and Larne, would be suicide for the current administration. Customs posts at the ferry ports are supported by 59% of those questioned last week in Ulster.

    Odds being offered on Theresa being in post to close of 2019 on Monday were 4/9. Odds offered this morning were 1/25. Frankly I’m only surprised by the optimism on Monday.

  • mike

    Another day, another positive Maybot story on the state broadcaster. They should release a photo-album: The State Broadcaster Pays Tribute To Our Glorious Leader.

  • Goose

    Even if the obstacles thrown in his path (Political opponents on the right , TIG and Watson’s New Labour 100+ grouping of MPs) can be overcome. How stable would Corbyn led govt really be?

    Corbyn needed to be far more proactive in shaping a party that’ll actually support his views in the face of what would likely be a MSM onslaught to destabilize his govt. He needed to support open selection even with the inherent risks involved in backing that. His most vocal critics in the PLP and those intent on sabotage would either leave or immediately pipe down, knowing they’d be answering to their CLPs and facing off against other, more representative, left-wing candidates. I honestly think the reason so many squealed for Chris Williamson’s suspension is because of his campaign for open selection(a smaller scale UK version of US primaries). The right-wing of the Labour party can only ever hope to gain total control again by suppressing local democracy and losing that huge Corbyn-backing membership. If Labour were to implement open selection, it’d be very difficult some future Blairite leader figure to take the party to the 2001-2010 Blair-era right, at least it would ,with the membership once again totally powerless to prevent it. Those on the right see this huge danger, hence the howls for draconian action against Williamson.

  • Sharp Ears

    A Tory double whammy in the HoC. Theresa yesterday and today at PMQs. Hammond today with his Spring Statement. Deadly dull from this very dull millionaire from his property and care home enterprises (held ‘in trust’ of course).

    Austerity will continue. He forecasts lower growth, down from +1.6% to +1.2% due to Brexit uncertainty.
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2019/mar/13/spring-statement-philip-hammond-growth-borrowing-spending-live-updates?page=with:block-5c88fdb2e4b016d23425af47#liveblog-navigation

    I didn’t hear anything about sunlit uplands.

    McDonnell followed with the facts to counter the spin.

  • Ottomanboi

    In many states with popular sovereignty and endowed with a constitution and a president to protect it this stalemate situation would trigger a general election. In the UK where parliament is in effect the elected absolute monarch/dictator that is not the case.
    The Anglo-establishment, all Unionist left, right and centre of it, is plainly at war with itself. A house so divided cannot stand. Scotland must be out of the house before the fabric ultimately collapses. The politico-sado-masochistic Ukanian relationship must end.
    The time to ready for exit is now.

  • Sharp Ears

    This, from Hammond’s statement, reminded me of the Chagos Islands.

    ‘to help protect critical habitats, the government will support the call from the Ascension Island Council to designate 443,000 square kilometres of its waters as a Marine Protected Area, with no fishing allowed.’
    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/spring-statement-2019-what-you-need-to-know

    Ascension Island is of course aka RAF Wideawake/ USAF

    ‘RAF Ascension (IATA: ASI, ICAO: FHAW), also known as Wideawake Airfield or Ascension Island Auxiliary Field, is a military airfield and facility located on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean. The airfield is jointly operated by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Ascension_Island

    I can’t imagine that there’s much left of the ‘critical habitats’ after that lot have done their worst.
    ‘The facility is home to a USAF ground tracking station in support of the Eastern Range and rocket launches from Cape Canaveral in Florida.’

    The runway is potholed, just like the UK’s roads!

  • Jimmeh

    I also had to google ‘shoogly’; Burns is about the extent of my knowledge of Scottish English.

    May’s hard brexit:

    May’s deal is no hard brexit. May (or Olly the Unelected) has negotiated an agreement that will be massively favourable to the EU27 come the real negotiations. The EU27 will be able to make new rules that cripple UK business. The UK will have no veto. The backstop will prevent the UK from walking away with their ball. Frankfurt and Paris have for years wanted to take business from the City. I don’t know about this ‘bad faith’ business; once we have left the EU, the EU27 will owe us nothing. They would be derelict if they didn’t negotiate in the interests of the EU27, at our expense.

    I am no cheerleader for the City – but this would be quite a bad time for the UK’s largest industry to be gutted.

    I agree that May’s principal motivation is now and always has been xenophobia. She is contemptible.

    • Ort

      As a US resident, I was puzzled by “Erskine May just cannot cope”.

      At first I thought that “Erskine” might be Theresa’s hitherto-obscure middle name. Then I discovered that “Thomas Erskine May” was a British constitutional theorist, which makes sense in the context of the topic.

      But Wikipedia, such as it is, further informs me that “Erskine” is a Scottish surname. … The Scottish Gaelic form of the surname is Arascain. Legend dictates that the name was given by King Malcolm II to a man who killed the Danish General Enrique at the Battle of Murthill. He is said to have shown the bloody knife to king and said eris-skyne, meaning “upon the knife”.

      This meaning of “Erskine” also makes sense, since Theresa May– like Rasputin– has survived repeated Parliamentary thrusts of the bloody knife. Intentional or not, it’s a rich play on a word!

      • Herbie

        “Erskine May” refers to his manual or handbook for parliamentarians. Rules, procedures etc.

        How the House works. How to use its procedures.

  • Ascot2

    I too watched the parliamentary debate yesterday with interest. It seems to me that from a (Conservative ) government point of view everything is going according to plan.
    One has to remember that right-wing parties, around the world, thrive on chaos. Yes there is turmoil and collateral damage, but it gives them the opportunity to engage in a new round of privatization. Things like healthcare and prisons. They can also boost expenditure on the military and security, and give lucrative contracts, like ferry contracts to firms with no ferries, to their corporate friends and supporters.
    The process is known as disaster capitalism, well described in ” The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein.
    The important thing is that no politician, or political party, must be held responsible for the mess. They all have to be able to say ” I wasn’t responsible for it happening this way”. A co-opted mainstream media help paper it all over.
    Theresa May is the sacrificial lamb to be disposed of after the exit when people like Boris Johnson reappear once more to take charge.

    • Deb O'Nair

      ‘The important thing is that no politician, or political party, must be held responsible for the mess. They all have to be able to say ” I wasn’t responsible for it happening this way”.’

      Which is why they constantly blather on about respecting the democratic will of the people.

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