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As we regress into the dystopian post-Brexit New Year it appears the new normal leaves us bereft; Britain is ready to trade heart and soul for treacherous alliances with dictators. Boris Johnson has tossed UK interests under the bus, as his chaotic last ditch ‘deal’ with the EU leaves everything from Scottish Langoustine to Northern Irland’s online basics in bureaucratic gridlock with no easy solutions in sight. The begging bowl of Brexit has already driven us into the willing embrace of tyrants with no conditionality over their abhorrent current or future human rights conduct. Desperation constrains our trade deals moving forward, now that Brexit has constructed a self-imposed logistical barricade between us and our nearest trading partners in the EU. But Johnson’s cabal devoid of conscience leading our Tory Sovereign Dictatorship can rely on its most deadly export to drive the UK economy, as we seek greater alliances with other authoritarian regimes throughout the globe to supply them with the weaponry of repression.
In the London Economic Article entitled, “Scottish seafood left to rot with exports tangled in Brexit bureaucracy,” Henry Goodwin tells us how, “Industry figures have warned that exports could grind to a halt in coming days. Scotland’s seafood industry is in danger of grinding to a halt in the coming days, ruining thousands of tons of fresh produce, because of Brexit customs delays. Industry groups have warned that a “perfect storm” of factors has led to long delays before lorries carrying fresh seafood can leave Scotland, partly down to the paperwork now required to send goods to Europe. Under post-Brexit rules, vets must sign off on consignments and provide an export health certificate, which is needed for wild fish and farmed salmon since Britain left the EU customs union last week.” Perhaps someone should remind the PM of the words if the Norwegan Prime Minister who was quoted as having said, “There is nothing that’s in such a hurry as a dead fish in the back of a lorry!”
Goodwin reports that, “The Scottish Seafood Association said exports to the EU are being hindered by ‘red tape’ delays in Scotland and France. It claims as many as 25 trucks were backlogged for clearance due to IT problems in Boulogne on Tuesday. Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, said: “Trucks laden with fresh seafood are being held up in central Scotland due to problems with customs barcodes and lack of veterinary service capacity. ‘Instead of representative samples being removed from trucks and checked, entire trailers are being emptied so that every box and label can be checked. Combined with computer problems on both sides of the English Channel, this is a worrying sign for the days and weeks ahead when the flow of produce will get much greater.’ He added: ‘Ministers of both the UK and Scottish governments need to get on top of the situation and resolve these issues as soon as possible’.”
Goodwin’s article includes, “A video shared by a sea farm operating on Loch Fine was widely-shared this week, in which fishermen claimed that they have already ‘lost thousands of pounds by doing nothing wrong’ since Brexit. ‘Welcome to the modern world of Brexit and the mess it brings,’ the fisherman adds, pointing to a fresh haul of lobster and scallops that will likely go to waste because of problems at the newly-policed borders. James Withers, head of Scotland Food and Drink, said: ‘There is a big exercise happening over the next couple of days with exporters to work through the common issues arising with incomplete or wrong paperwork’. The result is huge delays in getting freshly-caught crab, lobsters, langoustines and other fresh seafood to markets across the Continent. Withers added: ‘The French authorities assure us these systems are now fixed but this will need closely monitored over the coming days. There is a major collective effort to work through all this between industry and government.”
Goodwin notes Withers concerns, “That is critical because the knock-on effect of disruption is significant and can grind the seafood supply chain, from fishing boats to haulage, to a halt very quickly. ‘On the back of a horrendous 2020 and a nightmare before Christmas due to the French border closure, the financial impact of that would be grave for many.’ Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: ‘We are all learning, including businesses, how to manage the considerable burden of this new bureaucracy on exporting food products. ‘We know how frustrating, time consuming and indeed costly this is for Scottish businesses, we warned the UK government that we needed much more clarity much sooner than we got on what the export process would involve. ‘It is far better for problems to be identified and resolved here in Scotland and not have consignments being turned back hundreds of miles away or refused when they arrive at the end of their journey’.”
In the London Economic Article entitled, “Debenhams closes Irish website as UK retailers feel sting of Brexit tariffs,” once again Henry Goodwin is elaborating on the harmful impact of Brexit. He says that, “In a message on its website, it said ‘we are currently unable to deliver orders to the Republic of Ireland, due to uncertainty around post-Brexit trade rules’. Debenhams has shut online operations in Ireland after being impacted by new Brexit tariff rules, with dozens of other firms facing disruption from trade rule changes. The department store, which started its liquidation process last month, took its Debenhams.ie website offline on Christmas Eve following the agreement of the Brexit deal, in a move first reported by ITV News. Fashion retailers and grocery chains have been particularly impacted by new tariff rules on re-exporting goods from the UK bases.”
Goodwin reports that, “The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that ‘at least 50’ of its members face potential tariffs for re-exporting goods following the agreement of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA). ‘We appreciate that the rules of origin in the TCA were designed to be facilitative on trade in goods, but we need a solution which genuinely reflects the needs of UK-EU supply and distribution chains for goods,’ said William Bain, trade policy adviser at the BRC. We are working with members on short-term options and are seeking dialogue with the Government and the EU on longer-term solutions to mitigate the effects of new tariffs’. Following the agreement of the withdrawal deal, a raft of retailers including John Lewis and TKMaxx suspended deliveries into Northern Ireland amid uncertainty over new Irish Sea trading arrangements. Separately, Marks & Spencer is also struggling with filling shelves in its stores in the Republic of Ireland.”
Goodwin explains that, “The retailer launched a new distribution centre in Motherwell exclusively to deal with supplying products to the island of Ireland, rather than from a warehouse that previously supplied Ireland and Britain. But seven days into the new arrangements between the EU and UK, the centre is said to be struggling to cope with the new rules. Sources close to the retailer insist the issues are only temporary as the company get to grips with the new systems and paperwork. One problem for M&S is that many of its products sold in Ireland are sourced in the UK and tend to be ready meals or prepared dishes, requiring separate paperwork for meats, dairy and vegetables. A typical M&S dish contains all three and is therefore facing more lengthy paperwork, whilst reports also suggest delays continue at ports. An M&S spokesperson said: ‘Following the UK’s recent departure from the EU, we are transitioning to new processes and it is taking a little longer for some of our products to reach our stores. We’re working closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure customers can continue to enjoy the same great range of products’.”
In the Canary Article entitled, “Post Brexit Britain has started the way it intends to go on – with a trade deal siding with a dictator,” Tom Anderson elaborates on the type of deals that will replace the self-imposed complexity of our new relationship with our closest trading partners in the EU. He states, “The fact that the first trade deal the UK signed after Brexit was with Turkey is telling. It sets the stage for a post-EU Britain which taps into a longstanding imperial tradition of siding with dictators, despots and oppressors. Turkey’s dictatorial leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has spent the last seven years since becoming president arresting and imprisoning the political opposition and awarding himself ever-increasing powers. Since 2015, 6,000 members of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) have been imprisoned, and 16,000 detained. The party’s co-leaders, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş have been jailed. More than 50 elected HDP mayors have been replaced by state appointed trustees.”
The Canary reports that, “In December 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called for the ‘immediate release’ of Demirtaş, calling his imprisonment a violation of rights. Also in December, former HDP MP Leyla Güven was sentenced to 22 years in prison for her role as co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). The DTK is the umbrella organisation attempting to sow the seeds of a radical democracy in Turkey’s Kurdish majority south east. A democracy which aims to put the power in the hands of grassroots neighbourhood and city assemblies, eroding the power of the state. Güven inspired a 7000 person strong hunger strike in 2018 which started behind the walls of Turkey’s prisons and spread worldwide, calling for an end to the isolation of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) co-founder Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned by Turkey since 1999. In November 2020, prisoners in Turkey again launched a mass hunger strike demanding freedom for Öcalan.”
The Canary say that, “Meanwhile, students in Istanbul have clashed with police this week while protesting the appointment of a new rector of Boğaziçi University by Erdoğan. The appointee to the post is a prominent member of Erdoğan’s AKP party.” They say, “On 5 January two journalists from a women’s news agency and two freelancers were detained in Ankara, while covering protests. During 2020, 43 journalists were reportedly sentenced to a total of over 150 years in prison.” It would seem that this Tory Government is eager to be “Propping up the struggling economy of a despot. Turkey’s economy has been struggling under the pressure of the Turkish state’s unending wars of aggression, with the Turkish Lira crashing in 2018. 24% of Turkish youth are currently unemployed. “Amidst this financial crisis, Turkey has launched successive invasions of Northeast Syria in 2018 and 2019, and supported Azerbaijan’s 2020 aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The Canary also document a wider expansion of aggression saying that, “Turkish planes and drones have also been carrying out attacks in Libya during 2020, and troops remain on Libyan soil in an attempt to extend Turkey’s influence over the Mediterranean and North Africa. Recently, Erdoğan has been using the age-old trick of trying to distract the Turkish public gaze away from the ongoing financial crisis at home by threatening to exert control over 16 Greek islands. The trade deal with the UK will serve to prop up the Turkish state’s military expansionism abroad and fuel its repression of the Left within its own borders. The agreement will benefit the Turkish economy by an estimated £1.78bn. Since the announcement of the free trade agreement, the Turkish Lira has risen to its strongest position since September 2020. In contrast, the European Union is considering sanctions against Turkey, because of its militaristic foreign policy.”
The Canary regretfully comment on, “Self-determination’ and ‘human rights’ left ‘by the wayside,” and the impact of our morally reprehensible new ‘deals.’ They say, “The trade deal flies in the face of concerns raised by diaspora communities in the UK. In September 2020, a joint open letter was written to Boris Johnson by representatives from Cypriot, Kurdish, Egyptian and Armenian community organisations urging the government to take an ethical stance. It reads: Whilst the UK-Turkey trade talks progress, Turkey has increasingly become a destructive force in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region, that routinely violates international law. Nik Matheou, a London based historian of the Middle-East and activist with the Boycott Turkey campaign told The Canary: This deal was what was expected, but nevertheless remains a kick in the teeth for all those who believe in a peaceful solution to the problems in the Middle-East and human rights worldwide.”
The Canary report that, “The rights of journalists, the rights of lawyers, the rights of activists, the rights of people to their own self-determination and their own culture. All of this was put to the wayside with this recent deal which essentially opens the UK to business with one of the most authoritarian regimes existing in the world today, the AKP-MHP regime led by Erdoğan. It just shows what role the British government is looking to play in this post-Brexit world where, on the one hand, the EU has finally and belatedly begun to put sanctions in place against Turkey because of its actions in the Aegean and because of its actions against Cyprus. On the other hand the UK government is making itself entirely open, without any safeguards, without any checks, without any standards being upheld. So it’s really very, very disappointing, and no amount of statements about how things are raised in private is going to assuage anyone’s fears here.” They claim we are, “Cementing British support for the Erdoğan regime.”
The Canary focus on, “Thomas McClure who works with the Rojava Information Center, a volunteer-staffed organisation that has reported extensively on Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Northeast Syria. He said: We often focus on Turkish arms deals with the UK and the West, but that’s only a small part of the picture. UK companies have sold over a billion pounds’ worth of weapons and military tech to Turkey in recent years, including equipment used in their devastating attacks against the Kurds in Syria in 2018 and 2019, and subsequent forcible demographic change. But more broadly speaking, with this deal the UK government has shown it is willing to stand alongside Erdoğan’s repressive regime, with the Turkish autocrat fulsome in his praise of his UK counterparts. The UK is Turkey’s second biggest export market, and this deal cements British support for the Erdoğan regime without even cursory parliamentary scrutiny of its appalling rights record at home and abroad.”
The Canary report that, “The EU may be about to impose limited sanctions on Turkey, but at the same time, Turkish trade with key EU states (most notably Germany) continues apace. The UK should have demanded reforms from the Turkish government as a quid pro quo for any trade deal. But with Erdoğan feeling strong and UK and EU leaders running scared, it is little wonder that Johnson’s government is willing to accept Turkish expansionism and repression as the cost of continued profits post-Brexit. Today’s support for Erdoğan’s expansionist regime will come round to bite the UK tomorrow, but by then, it may well be too late to undo the damage.” They are demanding, “An ethical stance against the exploitation, terrorization and annihilation”
The Canary alert us to the fact that, “Campaigners are calling for a Boycott of Turkey, as a way to counter its militaristic policies and to stand in solidarity with the movements for radical democracy inside Turkey. The Boycott Turkey campaign is calling for a boycott of Turkish companies and brands, for students and staff at UK universities to support an academic boycott of Turkish universities, for the UK to stop arming Turkey and for people not to take their holidays at Turkish resorts. According to Dilar Dirik, Kurdish academic and activist: ‘Boycotting Turkey is not merely an attempt to economically disrupt a billion-dollar business empire that profits from massacre, authoritarianism and intimidation. It is also an ethical stance against the exploitation, terrorization and annihilation of the Kurdish people and other communities, targeted by the nationalist state mentality of Turkey. Boycotting Turkey means saying NO to the normalization and white-washing of dictatorship and genocidal politics’.”
The Canary warn that, “The UK-Turkey deal shows clearly the way things are going to go in post-Brexit Britain. The British state will carry on its time-worn colonial tradition of forging alliances with dictators like Erdoğan, who are trying to crush movements for peoples’ autonomy. We need to build up our own autonomy in opposition to state policies, and stand in solidarity with those fighting oppression within Turkey, and globally.” Author “Tom Anderson is part of the Shoal Collective, a cooperative producing writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.” We have shown that boycotts are effective, they really must be or Israel would not be kicking up such a fuss about the Boycott, Divest and Sanction, (BDS) movement. This strategy was a valuable leverage tool that helped to end Aparthide in South Africa and we should build on that success. Now, as then, we cannot rely on our Governments to make ethical choices, but as consumers and investors we can make an immense difference with our personal choices.
A TRT World Article entitled, “Palestine activists secure right to boycott Israel win at UK Supreme Court,” focuses on a significant victory for BDS drowned out by the Covid crisis in late April 2020. They revealed the good news of the Judges decision to reverse the, “British ban on local government pension schemes taking part in the BDS campaign over Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Campaigners in the UK have secured a major victory for the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel over its treatment of occupied Palestinians. On Wednesday the British Supreme Court ruled that the government could not ban public authority pension schemes from engagement in ethical divestment policies targeting Israel. The decision reversed a 2016 government ban preventing local councils from taking part in the BDS campaign and other boycotts that run contrary to UK foreign and defence policy.”
TRT World reported that, “Legal action against the decision by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and other groups was previously successful in the UK High Court but a Court of Appeal decision ruled in favour of the government. The Supreme Court decision is final. The initial government action came after councillors in local government authorities in several UK cities started passing motions forcing their pension funds to divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan Heights. BDS is a grassroots international campaign that encourages ethical divestment from companies that financially back the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in the hopes that it will reverse Israeli behaviour. The judges’ decision confirms the right of pension fund members to decide where their money can be invested.”
TRT World quoted, “PSC chair Kamel Hawwash said: ‘This historic victory represents a major win not just for the campaign for Palestinian rights, but for the fundamental principles of democracy, freedom of expression and justice.’ Lawyer Jamie Potter, of Bindmans LLP, representing PSC said: ‘LGPS (local government pension scheme) members now have the freedom to pursue their own principles in respect of the role of the arms trade and foreign countries in violations of human rights around the world, when determining how their pension monies are invested’.” Bindmans LLP, is frequently cited representing Human Rights cases and quashing SLAPP suits, including those targeting the progressive Labour Left with fantisemitism. This is a formidable force capable of exposing the Likud influence on Trojan horse Starmer’s corrupt efforts to destroy Labour from within: we must oust Sir Keir!
TRT World say, “In recent years, countering the BDS movement has become a top foreign policy priority for the Israeli government with its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing the campaign as a ‘strategic threat’. Israeli diplomats and lobby groups have urged allied governments to enact legislation banning acts of boycott targeting Israel but such acts even when passed have run into legal issues. In the US, such attempts run the risk of violating constitutional protections on free speech and the right to protest. Israeli officials argue that their state is being unfairly targeted but boycott advocates say that the campaign is the best way of pressuring Israel to stop its abuses against Palestinians.” Netanyahu faces a new election and corruption charges when he is forced out of office; if only we could challenge, Investigate and expose the corruption of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to force the Johnson cabal from office! Trump has fallen from grace with a crash, but other tyrants and dictators must be removed too. DO NOT MOVE ON!