Brexit and Bad Faith 696


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.


696 thoughts on “Brexit and Bad Faith

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  • SA

    The major dysfunction of British politics has been apparent since 2010 when the trumped up Cameron managed to become prime minister and together with his mate Clegg managed to persuade the Lib Dem’s to commit suicide. Instead of both parties being punished the Tories won the next election.
    It is a total nonesense that after wrecking the NHS, the education, and the social security system that these thugs should still continue to rule, apparently in fair elections.
    Despite now wrecking Brexit the Tories still appear to lead in the opinion polls. This style of so called democracy when money determines politics, aided by a biased partisan press owned by a few billionaires, can never represent the people who vote for them but yet these same people continue to do so against their own interests.

    • Deb O'Nair

      Cameron should have gone when it was discovered he was in bed with the senior management at News International to the extent that he brought Rupert Murdoch henchman Andy Coulson into Downing Street despite the howls of protest from across the political spectrum, only to find a few months later that he was sent to prison. This was not an ‘error of judgment’ but outright corruption on full display. There are numerous other examples of the corruption of Cameron that the corporate media swept under the carpet time and time again. If Cameron was held to account by the media then it is fair to say the country would not be in the almighty mess it now finds itself.

    • Mike

      totally agree – but I have to say a word about Clegg. It still fashionable to demonise him (and he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory since being forced out of British political life). BUT those that demonise him should be aware they are doing exactly what the Tories planned for him when they set up the elephant trap he that naively fell into. BUT the idea he was just a power hungry charlatan is childishly simplistic, which is why the Tories knew they could make it stick when the shafted him. What Clegg was trying to do was change our dreadful and massively undemocratic first past the post system. It is terrible, out-dated, not fit for purpose and the root cause of us having a parliament full of moronic dogmatic party flag wavers. Brexit is proof incarnate that Clegg was absolutely right that we urgently need to reform our electoral system. When Britain gets over its infantile “he was just power hungry” nonsense, he WILL go down in history as the one person who tried to fix the system before it was too late, and paid a huge price for trying

      • John A

        Why, in that case, did Clegg agree to the ludicrous referendum about the AV? Why not commission some body, say the Electoral Commission, to research possible replacements for FPTP, then have a parliamentary debate on which to reject/support, and then propose a referendum. Cameron knew that AV was a dead duck. Pity Clegg was stupid enough to fall for it. However, the famous revolving door has landed him a mega paying gig with Facebook. So it worked out for him.

      • giyane

        Mike

        About Clegg , I could not disagree more. He is a priveleged product of the elitist system of private education which has naturally placed the children of arseholes who know how to make money at the top of the political tree. i was educated amongst them. Clegg is not by any means the biggest arsehole from amongst this poisonous mix of arseholes. Nor is he the child of Thatcherite parents. but he drank from the poisonous chalice of neo-con post Thatcherites at Westminster school and gravitated towards his own type in the Tory party..

        There is absolutely no evidence hwatsoever that he wished to change the system. He knew his way round the system, approved of it and decided it would never deliver power to him. For this reason he made a coup in the Lib dem party, in order to get – I forget the Boris Johnson terminilogy because it’s not a word i have ever used – in the face by David Cameron.

        Clegg proceeded to shoehorn the bastard tories who were otherwise unelectable for another 100 years into power. Either you have poor circulation leading to blue skin or hepatitis leading to yellow.
        Clegg was and is IMHO a model of Thatcherist ego-frst Thatcherite greed. We saw it among the Red Tories but we were off our guard when Clegg snuck in in 2010.

        Never again.

      • Some Random Passer-by

        Nobody forced Clegg to run off to Facebook.

        And that move alone sums up Clegg in entirety.

        He was there, making lots of noise about the referendum, and how we had to stay in Europe, about how it important it was, and he dropped it like a stone for money.

  • SA

    As to Brexit, it is amazing that in a so called democracy, a minority government should be able to dictate its will with the help of a factional parochial party to have a bigger say in the process affecting the whole nation, and that the opposition has no say whatsoever in the negotiations. Those nutters also keep invoking democracy, a majority voted to leave, by making dictatorial and self interested decisions.
    I would not be surprised if the EU now say , good riddance, who would want these wreckers to partake in the decisions on the future of Europe.
    And I can now understand the logic of Scotland wanting to separate but worry that with the totally partial press, including the BBC that another referendum may fail to achieve this result. Witness the character assassination of Salmond. The establishment will stop at nothing to wreck Scottish independence.

    • Mary Pau!

      The thing is that there are major fault lines in British politics now. The Brexit vote reflected that views of the majority of England excluding London, (which no longer contains a majority of ethnic Londoners) and a couple of cosmolitan cities, and Scotland. But on their own both London and Scotland are not representative of mainstream England.

      I myself support Scottish independence but am sceptical of claims that the EU does too. I suspect they would regard fast tracking Scottish membership as setting too many prececents.

      I am also wary of views that MPs should vote with their consciences as this would set many Labour MPs against their constituents and politicians are held in such low esteem that asking the public to accept their views on trust will not work.

      I am starting to lose track of the thread generally in the H of C. Have the Brexiteers rejected the latest proposals because they believe they go too far in making us under the thumb of Brussels, or because they do not go far enough in making the backstop temporary? Have Remainers voted against to frustrate any form of Brexit being agreed?

      • giyane

        Mary Pau!

        Maybe you didn’t live under Thatcher. For those who had the extreme anguish of having lived under Tory government previously, this is normal hustling confusion deliberately creating diversion and havoc in order to allow the Tories to wreck our civil rights and freedoms built up over a thousand years.
        They want us to be bamboozled by illogicality so that they can redraw a thousand years of freedoms
        which make England the envy of the world.

        Their small-minded, autocratic, mean-spirited fascist ideas are totally un-palatable to the English electorate so they have to implement them by bluster and confusion. Do not fear. We will reverse all their disgusting changes when we kick them out after the public realise what they are. there is absolutely nothing the Tories can ever do that we will not reverse or change for the better.

  • SA

    As to the Labour Party, Tom Watson, has decided to wreck the chances of the Labour Party ever becoming relevant and has ‘united’ the Blairites and Brownites for a second comeback of New Labour. His efforts will fail and we will have another 20 years of new Thatcherism.

    • Ian

      Whatever you think of Tom Watson, you can’t pin the blame on him of ‘wrecking ‘ the Labour Party. He is a minor player in its demise, but it is always handy to have a scapegoat, which avoids the more searching questions.

      • Deb O'Nair

        Tom Watson, who takes funding from the family fortune of Britain’s biggest fascist anti-Semite (Oswald Mosley), the Israel lobby and Sky, is engaging in an overt effort to replace Corbyn as leader. Hardly a ‘minor player’, more like the Labour front man for the interests of the rich and another nation.

        • giyane

          D o N

          Unfortunately politics is not a mathematical equation in which the presence of the same symbol on both sides cancels them out. Sorry I am revising for the 18th edition of BS 7671 so my head is full of formulae.

      • Xavi

        Any reasonable assessment would identify Watson and his allies as major players in attempting to wreck the Labour party.

        • Ian

          Watson, whatever his own mediocrity and funding, isn’t the major player you seem to think. But let’s not ruin a simple narrative.

          • Xavi

            Always impressed by people who keep alluding to complexity but signally refrain from ever explaining the complexity. I believe the technical term is time waster.

          • Ian

            Haha, apart from the waste of time explaining to the wilfully deaf, it is in plain sight. Nothing complex or abstruse about it.

          • Dennis Revell

            :

            Reply to Clark:

            Yea, I kind lf liked Nero’s likewise approach – who calmly chose to improve his musicianship whilst all around were going batshit crazy & losing their heads.

            Corbyn-The-Compromiser-Too-Far is paying the price for his continued vacillating cowardice and hypocrisy that both started to become evident shortly after he attained leadership of the “Labour” party.

            .

  • SA

    And have there been any comments or pictures or videos in the press about the miles long queues of lorries on either side of the channel. This is of course a clear sign that HMG has already planned a hard Brexit.

      • SA

        BB
        I was not aware of the ‘work to rule’ by the French customs officials. Even so it is related to Brexit. The officials are saying that this is the shape of things to come because when U.K. becomes a third country, increased checks will have to happen and the French government has not increased the number of staff needed to carry out extra checks. There are also queues on the Folkestone side but not as big.
        To me it is obvious that Brexit will bring chairs to these crossing points and this is inevitable if it is a disorderly crash out because there are no rules or guidelines for such an eventuality. All eyes have been focussed on the Irish Border but it is the French border that will really bring this country to a standstill.

        • Piotr Berman

          I once took a bus from Warsaw to Cologne before Poland joined EU, and experienced five hour of traffic jam on the border crossing. The main cause was that Germany does not allow trucks (lorries) to drive during weekends and it was the end of a long weekend. Some trucks were from Kazakhstan, and I even seen few trucks with Korean marking, in other words, Eurasian traffic was jammed on the German border. Luckily, the bus was well equipped and we could watched movies.

          Around the same time, crossing the Channel was a bit laborious as well.

  • SA

    Difficult to understand why the pound is doing so well against the Euro given the imminent hard crash out Brexit. Can only think that it is speculators doing this as someone is going to make a killing once the pound falls through the floor after the crash out.

    • Goose

      Less chance of Brexit or higher chance softer Brexit – £ sterling rises.

      Greater chance of Brexit and esp. no-deal Brexit – £ falls and top company share values rise (because most earn their profits abroad usually in $, thus seen as safer investment).

    • Clark

      Maybe it’s (possibly dirty?) money fleeing the EU to the tax havens via the City before there’s an obstruction in the way. But that’s just a guess; I have no expertise.

      • Geoffrey

        There would be no need to convert it into sterling if that were the case. I understand what you imply,though.

  • Martin

    The EU is a corrupt organisation. Westminster is also corrupt. Surely being ruled by one corrupt organisation is better than two?

    • SA

      Not nescessarily, the two corrupt rulers can occasionally clash and in some cases as the labour laws and human justice laws may even have positive results.

  • Martin

    You decent citizens are not the enemy.
    The unelected criminals are. What they did to Greece and other countries are crimes.

    • Stephen Ambartzakis

      I agree, Martin, Craig gives far too much credence to the bunch of unelected bureaucrats running the EU. They are a cartel of greedy, arrogant globalist political shills, hellbent on ensuring an unsuccessful exit by the UK. It’s simple really, if the UK leaves (hard or soft) and is successful, then many other nations struggling under the heel of the bloated, German led, bureaucracy that is the EU. They even had the cheek to suggest that the Greeks sell the Parthenon. Such hubris deserves to be punished.

      • Charles Bostock

        That may be because Craig was himself an unelected bureaucrat in an institution which – unlike the security services – is often characterised by arrogance and out-of-touchedness.

        PS But I think the selling the Parthenon bit was jjust a bit of shite in one of the German or UK gutter press “newspapers”. Probably “Bild ” or another of the papers much loved by the master race.

        • giyane

          Bostick

          ” Craig was an unelected bureaucrat ”

          Well in the great pecking order of human existence what is an unelected armchair shill of israel and the Empire 2 gangsters compared to an unelected bureaucrat? I hope you weren’t sniffing bostick when you tried to bite the hand of the blog owner. Try WD40. Great for getting glue off the nose, and possibly containing a bit of solvent to cure your cold Turkey headache.

          Read the instructions first. Always use protective gloves before use.

  • SA

    Adrian Parsons earlier on in page 1 argues that from a Marxist point of view, immigration is tool to suppress wages for workers in this country and that the anti immigration feelings are caused by economic arguments rather than xenophobia. But this is a very narrow view of socialism and is also one of the major reasons why socialism will never work if compartmentalised. Many point out to the failure of socialism by quoting failures of many socialist states. But this failure has occurred because on the one hand, socialism had only started as an experiment in the periphery not the developed capitalist countries. Also socialism in one country versus international socialism was the subject of bitter feud between different faction of communists and this discussion pragmatically ended when socialist revolutions failed to follow in developed countries. The problem therefore became, and remains that any socialist or Marxist centred measures taken within a capitalist system will in time become meaningless and sometimes even divisive. The real challenge is that without changing ‘the System’ you cannot pick and choose specific Marxist or socialist policies in any meaningful way. In other words either socialism or Marxism has to be a dominant system with a globalist outlook or it is doomed to failure.

    • Adrian Parsons

      “But this is a very narrow view of socialism and is also one of the major reasons why socialism will never work if compartmentalised.”

      In theory, Marxism/Communism is internationalist and has no time for nationalism/parochialism. However, in the real world, internationalism is not progressed one iota by screwing the manual working class of one country by allowing unlimited immigration from another. Supporting “open borders” for capital, goods and labour-power is precisely to maintain and strengthen the current neo-liberal phase of Capitalism: it is to adopt the “rules” of the enemy and fight amongst ourselves over scraps instead of attempting to rebuild the world on a rational, communal basis.

      The irony of the liberal view, represented here by Craig Murray, is that they claim to want to improve the lot of their fellow Man while nevertheless supporting open borders. Work that one out if you can!

    • Ian

      Let’s just go with ‘doomed to failure’ then ,since it is the more realistic scenario. As opposed to the fantasies beloved of certain kinds of socialist who prefer arguing over the various strands of Marxism with competing factions, with the emphasis on who has betrayed them this time.

    • N_

      @SA – “Adrian Parsons earlier on in page 1 argues that from a Marxist point of view, immigration is tool to suppress wages for workers in this country and that the anti immigration feelings are caused by economic arguments rather than xenophobia. But this is a very narrow view of socialism and is also one of the major reasons why socialism will never work if compartmentalised.

      It’s not a view of socialism whether narrow or otherwise. It is a statement about immigration under capitalism and it is largely true. (But what I posted above about this topic is much clearer.)

      There is a problem with the premise in the “economic arguments or xenophobia?” question when it is posed in such a stark way. It sounds very much as though middle class types are standing in judgement over the mentality of working class people, asking “Are these people’s motivations good or evil?”, despite the fact that said middle class types would never be able to converse properly with a working class person as one human being to another, at a bus stop for example. That question does not get to grips with the relationship between the irrational and the rational.

      Look at London. What has happened to London is LARGE-SCALE RACHMANISM. Peter Rachman was a landlord whose business strategy was to encourage black immigrants (“schwarzes” he called them, a common racist term of contempt used by J__ish racists) to move into Notting Hill so that there would be ethnic strife, the rent-protected white tenants would move out, and then Rachman could take entire multi-occupied residences out of statutory rent regulation. In his pithy phrase “Get the schwarzes in and de-stat”.

      That has now happened in the whole of London and in other cities too as rents have been whacked up for private tenants, as the debtors who think they are “owners” pay large mortgage payments which are pretty much the same thing, and as publicly subsidised social housing has been run down. It would be ludicrous to try to assess the big picture without noticing the rundown of social housing.

      In terms of employment it is what has happened in much of the British building sector in the last 20 years.

      It is the same kind of thing that was lauded by F W Taylor (of “Taylorism” fame) in his 1911 book on the “scientific organisation of work”.

      A weak working class is a divided working class and capitalist strategists make use of racism because it is highly functional for them.

  • Piotr Berman

    “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.”

    I am not sure if parliamentary dysfunctionality is “a symptom” of a system that promotes the accumulation of vast wealth etc. Back in good old time of PM Peel the accumulation of vast wealth was presumably possible, but the government was functional if not always wise. One could think that restive public should make the elite more threatened and thus more cohesive, while Tories keep dividing into mutually hostile camps. Divisions in Labour are easier to understand as elite vs counter-elite.

  • Kula

    The EU is a foreign power controlling our military and freedom of political association. This and previous governments have used their subservience to the EU to suppress voices dissenting against systematic child sexual abuse and 40000 dead through removal of basic income from the elderly, veterans and the disabled. That the EU is transparent about it’s dominance is no excuse.

    • David

      The EU is NOTa foreign power , NOTcontrolling our military and NOT ourfreedom of political association. This and previous governments have used their subservience to the EU !??

      UK have properly used the EU to push forward UK and USA foreign policy, such as the too large, too fast enlargement, as part of the cold-war. entirely appropriate for ‘the victors’ to do this.

      https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/report/us-baltic-relations-laying-the-groundwork-deeper-cooperation

      Clinton did the act, but the implementation of the de-sovietisation of these nice eastern countries was begun by the UK pushing the EU to ‘let them in’

      How is that subservience?, please explain in depth or succinctly but accurately

    • SA

      Kula
      In case you haven’t notice, we and Europe are heavily militarily dominated and politically also by our membership of NATO which is the extension of USd power. The Europeans every so often make a token gesture of attempted indipendence by discussing s European army, but this is one of the most serious bones of contentions where the EU is concerned. The EU project was subverted by becoming the economic lure by which East European countries were offered membership and then also automatically become members of NATO.
      What was a community of nations with similar clout and social and economic development then became a larger association with less regard for these entrance requirements. Some of these countries have lost many of their workers and productive people, such as Romania and Bulgaria and to a lesser extent, Poland and the Baltic states.
      These are all reasons why the EU stinks but leaving the EU will not make the U.K. indipendent in any meaningful way., unless we also leave NATO and become non aligned with the US.

    • Ian

      If you think that is a ‘new low’, you lead a very sheltered life, or enjoy a bit of faux outrage for virtue signalling purposes. Probably both.

      • N_

        Not like you, then, Ian, with your highly exposed, precarious, danger-strewn lifestyle posting to all the most terribly bloodied blog comments sections, always reading to face realities the way Machiavelli recommended or was it Hannibal Lecter?

  • Sharp Ears

    BBC Question Time normally announce the composition of their panel on the day before the programme airs. Not so for tonight’s programme from Ealing, so far. I expect that there are few takers from the political classes.

    https://twitter.com/bbcquestiontime Still showing last week’s details.

    • Charles Bostock

      FFS wil you stop obsessing about “Question Time”?! For someone who claims to despise the BBC you do keep writing about QT an awful lot. It is BORING.

      • Sharp Ears

        You will not appreciate that it is one of the state broadcaster’s most important propaganda mouthpieces.

        ‘Question Time panels are typically composed of five public figures, “nearly always [including] a representative from the UK government and the official opposition.” The panel also features “representatives from other political parties across the series, taking as [the] guide the level of electoral support at national level which each party enjoys.”

        High profile journalists and authors, television and radio broadcasters, and comedians, join the panel. As do business leaders from well-known companies, and leading or expert academics, lawyers, police officers, and clerics.

        Audience members are selected based on age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, disability status, voting intention, voting history, and party membership.’ Wikipedia

        It reaches several million viewers/families.

        The panel for tonight’s ‘show’ has still not been announced. I will let you know. 😉

      • Republicofscotland

        Like many Charles, SE, want to know just how right wing and pro-government the line up will be, Farage for instance has a safe seat on QT.

        The government mouthpiece the BBC just cannot be trusted, like Israeli nefarious activities, one must also keep an eye on domestic duplicity by the state broadcaster.

        • Sharp Ears

          Not Julia Hartley Brewer. PLEASE. NO!!

          Fiona Bruce presents an hour of topical debate from Ealing. On the panel:

          James Cleverly MP, deputy chair of the Conservative Party, Conservative;
          Clive Lewis MP, shadow treasury minister, Labour;
          Ian Blackford MP, leader of the SNP at Westminster, SNP;
          Julia Hartley Brewer, journalist, columnist and host of a weekly programme on talkRadio;
          Catherine Barnard, professor of European law at Cambridge University.

          22.35 tonight BBC1

        • Sharp Ears

          To whom was that addressed, Clark?

          I put on a post about tonight’s panel on QT. It was shortly followed by criticism from two frequent posters.
          .
          I would suggest that those rather pointless posts were critical because the original post came from me. I want no truck from either of them.

    • Ian

      Scraping the barrel there, on your mission to find fault with everything. Perhaps they are bit busy right now, and mp’s have other things on their plate. A non-event of mouse-like proportions. Surely you can find more interesting things to do.

    • N_

      Thanks, @SharpEars. Sounds like there’s a battle going on, rather than them knowing and holding the information back. An appearance by JRM?

    • Dennis Revell

      :

      ” spaceport in Sutherland”
      😉 🙂 😉

      ??? On the basis that Sutherland is the most southerly point of the UK !!!???!!!

      – Not much Earth-Spin velocity advantage to be had even there, methinks. Best keep to one of the equatorial former colonies – Guyana, assuming they’re still speaking to us?

      .

  • conjunction

    Thanks for your thoughtful piece on Brexit – at last! You leave it just to the last minute just like TM.

    Whether or not TM is a closet Brexiteer she may yet be forced to compromise.

    Reneging on the referendum result and no-deal are both politically unacceptable. The current available deal is disliked for being vague – especially by Ulster protestants who fear being sold down the river by the looming threat of Irish unity and are using Brexit as a stage to draw attention to their plight.

    The Brexit vote was fuelled by anger at the disastrous financial crash and austerity and the complete failure of the political system to respond positively. Immigration became a scapegoat.

    • Glasshopper

      conjunction.

      ” the looming threat of Irish unity”

      Northern Ireland is very expensive to maintain. Meanwhile the clock is ticking on the republic’s status as a corporate tax haven. When the EU shut that down they will be in the doo-doo with or without the cost of bankrolling the north. Actually the looming tax status iceberg is far more of a threat to Ireland than Brexit.

  • nevermind

    Thanks for more Brexit muses. It is inevitable that at one point in time the Eu will want yo get on with the many other pressing issues, and our desperation for an extension, the vision of dealing with TM and or her replacement dummy BoJo, might spread a long lasting bout of exasperation in its negotiators.

    Who knows, they might get sick with it and we can look forward to BBC journalists chasing Barnier from pillar to post trying to find out what sickness it is.

    Ireland is being sacrificed on the altar of this crumbling Union, the good friday Agreement being booted into the nearest peat bog, and the re emerging bombing campaign, a massive thanks to MI5 for not having a clue, will no doubt feature in the next election, next to the dispensation of env. protection for robins black birds and starlings to placate developers with big pockets.

    Im now awaiting for the first repressive measures to enhance EU citizens life here, at first they only took your right to vote in EU elections, then they contemplate to abitrarily deal with all those who did not pay exorbitant sums to become an english subject, who are not looking forward to higher living costs, chaos, and a massive increase in inequality with the possible result of increased crimes of desperation nationwide.

    As for our trade and goal to bust open the EU borders to all sorts of cheap goods flooding in from everywhere, goods that are not approved by the EU, it will encourage massive border frauds , smuggeling and people trafficking. The need for a hard border will play on Irelands/Europes mind.
    Like an ex boyfriend turning up and ruining your wedding, this failed Tory Govetent is sacrificing anything that stands in the way of their perceived profit schemes and vested interest connections. The new financial transparency bill, approved by them in 2014, should be adhered to and implented as part of an extension, one ruefully hopes, but the current focus on craggy voice boxes and possible corners to find a hidden solution to keep her red lines, seems to exercise the media full time.

    Parliament does not work anymore as envisaged, the electoral system is found wanting, our representatives are desperate to not having an election, the economy and people stifled with utter uncertainty, to be continued, and the electorate is being divided to keep thesr creeps in power. Add to this a highly biased broadcaster that is infiltrated with all sorts of spooks, integrity initiative stirrers and sirens with split loyalties, not one positive sign on the horizon for a future worth living under. Apologies for possible typoos.

  • N_

    Martin Kettle says the current parliamentary goings-on amount to what Lenin called dual power. No they don’t. “It means there is a unresolved contest” (sic). Shut up, Martin. “And there isn’t all that much time to resolve it.” No sh*t, Sherlock!

    May will probably leave office soon, but not before the Tories carry out an enormous sacrifice of something which isn’t Tory.

  • Republicofscotland

    According to a leaked memo obtained by Buzzfeed, the EU will only offer an extension on Brexit for one of three reasons.

    To prepare for a no deal, that looks off the table. To complete ratification of May’s deal, seems unlikely. Or if the UK hold an election or referendum, a possibility.

    • DiggerUK

      If I was Napoleon Bonaparte, and I was recruiting, I would give Theresa May her pick of regiments and artillery battalions. She is outplaying, outsmarting, outflanking and blindsiding everyone lined up against her.
      I can’t stand her or her politics but she is in charge of what’s happening.

      She is not a civil service diplomat, she is a conviction politician, and she will make her mark on this tory party that will be envied for a long time. Once the dust has settled I suspect the tory party will be begging her to stay and accept the crown.

      I see a few obvious options, all with fallback positions for her. She wins the vote on her deal, an extension of A50, a new referendum, or a general election. I don’t think a general election likely. But I can imagine a new referendum with three transferable/preferential choices; her deal, no deal or remain as the price the EU extracts for an extension.

      That referendum would need to be with the power of a plebiscite. I don’t hold a light to a simple rerun of the 2016 referendum, parliament must be mandated to accept the result immediately by the legislation to enact such a referendum…_

      https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/columnists/peter-oborne-blood-is-on-the-carpet-and-civil-war-has-broken-out-but-dont-write-the-prime-minister-off-yet/ar-BBUK9BH?li=BBoPWjQ&ocid=mailsignout

  • Sharp Ears

    The decision on whether to prosecute the soldiers is being announced today. The Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland is deciding on it.

    Bloody Sunday: A ‘watershed’ in the history of the Troubles
    Soldiers fired more than 100 rounds, killing 13 civilians and wounding 15 others after a civil rights march.
    https://news.sky.com/story/bloody-sunday-a-watershed-in-the-history-of-the-troubles-11662986

    ‘The charges under consideration include murder, attempted murder and causing grievous bodily injury with intent to endanger life.’
    https://news.sky.com/story/bloody-sunday-17-former-british-soldiers-to-find-out-whether-they-face-charges-11663072

    The killings took place 47 years ago in 1972. One of the soldiers has already died. The others must be in their mid sixties.

    • N_

      Bercow can if necessary be removed.

      But…I suspect he’s an ERG asset and that if as seems likely he gets a chance to put in a cracker of a star performance at some point it won’t be to help Select Committee chairman Hillary Benn, to ease a revocation, or even to ease the ratification of a deal: it will be to help bring about what scumbags have been salivating at the thought of for a long while – a cra$hout.

      He’ll get a huge advance for his memoirs.

      • Geoffrey

        Why …because he is a twat and drives around in a Range Rover with a sticker on it saying “Bollocks to Brexit ” ?

          • Geoffrey

            Splitting hairs ? He is a twat and he does drive around in it. Would you drive around in a car with a Union Jack on it Ros ?

          • Republicofscotland

            Hang on a minute, so if someone drives another person car and that car has say a IRA sticker or Nazi sticker or I love Saudi Arabia or something offensive on it. It automatically means the person driving the other persons car holds the same views.

            I see a big flaw in your argument Geoffrey.

  • Republicofscotland

    Apparently this is doing the rounds on social media.

    “As the government prepares for the Chancellor’s ‘Spring Statement’, a list of Tory ‘achievements’ since 2010 has been circulating on social media. It makes the bleakest of reading:

    per-pupil spending down by 8% (20% on over-16s according to BBC News last week)
    1189 Sure Start centres closed
    760 youth clubs closed
    teens stabbed up by 93%
    front-line police numbers down by 21000
    NHS A&E crisis at a 14-year high
    NHS patient satisfaction at an 11-year low of 53%
    rough sleeping up by an astonishing 163%
    Foodbank usage up to a shaming 1.3m
    a horrific 4.1 million children in poverty
    2,620 deaths of rough sleepers
    two out of three children in poverty in working households – the idea that work is a route out of poverty is a lie for millions
    100 NHS walk-in centres closed
    600 police stations closed
    675 libraries closed
    760 youth centres closed
    470 schools closed
    50 fire stations closed
    433 HMRC tax offices closed
    100 Job Centres closed.”

    https://skwawkbox.org/2019/03/12/list-of-tory-achievements-makes-horrifying-reading/

    • Some Random Passer-by

      As depressing as that list is, they will still get in again.

      Partially because of the media, partially due to the Labour party not knowing what to do. They have abandoned their brexit core voters and decided that New Labour (middle class) is best.

      Can see UKIP coming back into the picture, on account that right wing parties generally seem uncorrupted (guessing the powers that be decided that the right would just follow along, not needing “adjustment”)

      • Clark

        “Uncorrupted”? Blaming immigrants for the effects of their own neoliberal policies is hardly “uncorrupted”.

        Corbyn’s Labour leadership have not abandoned their core voters; Labour’s policies are best for renationalisation of core infrastructure, which is popular all round, and protection of employees and their rights.

        • Some Random Passer-by

          It’s a typical right wing attitude. It can be found in most right wing parties across the globe.

          The lack of corruption comes from the lack of spending/infiltration from various actors.

          I haven’t seen a Shai Masot type spending millions to undermine UKIP, have you? Because they assumed (being right wing) that they could be dragged along with ease.

    • Sharp Ears

      Terrible. Thanks for the info though.

      Imagine how many jobs were lost and how many families were affected by poverty, homelessness by the loss of a breadwinner.

    • Michael McNulty

      And according to today’s Mail On-line (which I don’t read but occasionally link to) Torbay Council has told a woman with mental health issues she is strong enough to deal with homelessness. My God! We’ve really hit the skids this time, and if they get away with it then homelessness for anybody anywhere becomes an option for all councils.

  • Mike Lockwood

    Superb article – and the reason why the UK Government fears the EU will act in bad faith? – it is because they only ever act in bad faith. This catastrophically awful government has negotiated and behaved in bad faith from the very start of the whole Brexit debacle. Even the slogan “have our cake and eat it” (and May appears to think a slogan is a policy and even a plan) really means “we are going to try to cheat”. These people have lied to the British public and deceived enough to get their way – they then set about trying to deceive the EU commission and the leaders of the member states, but without a rabid tabloid press and a supine BBC they have fooled precisely nobody. The damage these people have done to our international reputation is collosal and will last for centuries. We are now a failed pariah state – make no mistake

  • N_

    Nigel Farage met Donald Trump 10 days ago in Washington DC, US, to get support for a crashout Brexit. (Torygraph piece.) Close reading of a letter supposedly written by Jacob Rees-Mogg had already indicated that some who speak US English rather than British English have got their fingerprints on the push for a crashout. Going off the cliff on 29 March is what I think will happen.

    Farage has also been talking to contacts in Italy, to the same end.

    Remember that there are two kinds of “extension”. “Extension” is a confusing term, and it’s probably used because so many British “insiders” are superannuated public schoolboys at heart. There are two ways for Britain to stay in the EU after 29 March 2019 without revoking its notification of withdrawal. They are very different from each other. They are as follows.

    1. A later date is specified in a withdrawal agreement. On EU27’s side this requires agreement by a super-qualified majority. It does NOT require unanimity among the 27. As I understand it, it requires agreement by 20 of the member states.

    2. There is no withdrawal agreement but the default departure date is put back. On EU27’s side, this requires unanimity – in other words, agreement by all 27 member states.

    So the position is that so long as no withdrawal agreement is greed by the British House of Commons, all that certain interests have to do to force a crashout is to give a couple of families in Malta a big bung.

    It won’t necessarily be Malta. That’s just a “for instance”. My point is that only a small amount of leverage somewhere has to be applied. Basically if there is no withdrawal agreement it is EASY-PEASY for the Brexit scum to force a crashout. Tens of billions will be trousers in a few hours days as the shelves run bare. Lovely dubbly!

    • N_

      Leave.EU tweeted the following threat yesterday:

      The British establishment would do well to remember the Eurosceptic scene is a close-knit group across the continent and on the rise – some are now in power! If our politicians betray Brexit and vote for delay, @MatteoSalviniMI can defend the 17.4 million and veto!

      To stress their point they include a photograph of Nigel Farage with Matteo Salvini.

    • MJ

      “Basically if there is no withdrawal agreement it is EASY-PEASY for the Brexit scum to force a crashout”

      Steady on, you’re talking about majority of the British people here, who voted only to leave the EU deal or no deal.

  • N_

    Who is that Tory idiot shampoo-dodger sitting to David Lidington’s right who keeps picking his smartphone and smiling to himself? (And why do I have to pay him to do it?)

    • N_

      I mean this guy, this fine specimen of Tory dross. Who is he?

      He’s further from Lidington than he appears in that photo. I think he’s sitting below the gangway, opposite where Dennis Skinner sits.

  • Jo

    Parliamentarians may want a soft Brexit… but the peoples voted for a Brexit no matter what…including a no deal one.Parliament has failed us. Simples.

    • MJ

      If this is how they behave when entrusted with a relatively simple task like leaving the EU I shudder to think how they would perform if something really challenging came along.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Do not dismiss the possibility that the existing WA can be pushed through next week on a third pass. The DUP are sounding distinctly wobbly. They cite the chance that Cox will find a way to circumvent article 62 of the Vienna convention and negate the Backstop for ever condition. This is the carrot they chose to offer for public display, they don’t however wish to broadcast the sticks shown to them in the last 24 hours. Stick number one is the proposed tariff terms on the British side of the Irish border. No tariffs imposed on Irish goods while the Irish are compelled to comply with international obligations of the EU and impose tariffs on UK goods would severely antagonise the Ulster business community who would damn the DUP to hell. The second stick being Gove floating the idea of an inevitable return of direct Westminster rule in NI. This would remove the substantial remuneration they receive for their no show jobs at Stormont. Never underestimate the venality of the DUP. Throw in an all expenses paid family holiday in an exotic location and it’s a dun deal.

    • Goose

      Being stuck in the backstop would be the end of the DUP.

      It’s obnoxious that May thinks foisting on the UK (by a few ill-gotten votes) a deal hardly anyone wants, is sensible politics. May risks leaving behind a bigger mess than Cameron, as how will a new ERG, EU hostile PM negotiate? Does anyone think the EU will be eager to make Brexit trade negotiations easy for say Boris or someone else from that persuasion , someone with a track record of hostility to the EU? There will be endless issues that the EU can and will erect.

  • Stonky

    I wish people arguing in favour of immigration would lay off the the silly Guardianesqe trope “It makes the economy bigger you fool!” It’s complete economic illiteracy and it’s particularly disappointing to see Craig engaging in it:

    Your argument depends, Adrian, on the idea that the economy is a fixed size and immigration does not expand it…

    Anything that involves a transfer of money from one party to another party “expands” the economy. I could “expand” the economy tomorrow by bringing in a million migrants and paying them each a quid a day to stand on a street corner and wash cars. Anybody who believes that any of us would be better off a result is more than welcome to write a brief post explaining why.

    On the other hand I could be wrong. Immigration = bigger economy… bigger economy = better economy! In that case why wait? Why stop at a paltry 300,000 per annum? Why not have 30 million – and let’s have them tomorrow! I’ll be so rich I’ll probably need a Roller to transport all my cash home…

    • Charles Bostock

      Happy to agree with you, Stonkers.

      Murray, unfortunately, bears out the old Margaret Thatcher jibe thet the Foreign Office is for foreigners. It should be plain to anyone that it is perfectly possible to grow the economy while at the same time as exercising downward pressure on the wages of certain categories of workers. But then FO people are only given a fairly rudimentary grounding in economics at College.

    • N_

      @Stonky –

      Anything that involves a transfer of money from one party to another party ‘expands’ the economy.

      Of course it doesn’t.

    • Republicofscotland

      And heres me thinking more taxpayers generate more tax. Open more businesses and in the process create more jobs, in turn they receive pay that supports other service jobs.

      Add in that Britain is no Nigeria, where the young outnumber the old. The British population is aging, immigrants provide taxes and bodies to support our NHS.

  • Stonky

    The other argument that bugs me is this one:

    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 of the incomers and locals there would be no degradation of all the workers…

    “Bosses” don’t live in a vacuum, and most “bosses” in the UK are small business owners. Imagine I live in a small town and I own a hairdressers. I pay my staff the living wage. Another hairdresser sets up across the street, and they’re paying their staff the minimum wage (or not as it happens). What am I supposed to do? I know – I can carry on nobly paying my staff the living wage for the weeks or months that it takes me to go out of business. Or I can cut my costs and compete.

    Now imagine that happening thousands and thousands of times, in businesses all over the country, all day and every day.

    What you get in consequence is a beggar-my-neighbour, dog-eat-dog race to the bottom. The situation isn’t exactly helped by the fact that in many low-skilled low-wage areas of the economy (e.g. takeaway food) the “bosses” themselves are migrants, who (sorry Dungroanin) don’t care a fig for the businesses or the workers they’re displacing.

    • giyane

      Stonky

      The going rate for temporary labour in Alum Rock Birmingham is £25 per day.
      Compare that to 1991 when casual labour was paid £ 2 per hour.
      Now , those migrants benefit from over £1000 per month subsidy in the form of Family Credit
      and their food is actually inedible and re-heated many times over.
      However those migrants bring with them the truth of Islam, so i actually think we are the beneficiaries in the larger picture.

    • Republicofscotland

      That’s why every firm should be regulated to pay the minimum wage. Of course I see you don’t mention when British firms screw over British workers by sending the work overseas to workers who are paid pennies.

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