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Tories do ruthless so well...but Boris?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 11:59:02 AM EST

With Labour stuck in what seems like an interminable leadership struggle, the Tories are wasting no time putting together a new order post Brexit.  Within days of losing the Brexit referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron is gone, replaced by Theresa May, and she has just sacked more cabinet ministers in a few hours than Cameron did in his 6 years in Office.

George Osborne, Michel Gove, Oliver Letwin, John Whittingdale, Teresa Villiers and Nicky Morgan have all been sacked while devout Christian and leadership candidate, Stephen Crabb, has resigned apparently for sexting a women who is not his wife. Presumably Johnson and Gove cold not have been expected to serve in the same Cabinet after the latter stabbed Johnson in the front...

But it is the early appointments she has made which are the more interesting: She has put three of the top Brexiteers in charge of foreign relations: Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Liam Fox in charge of a new Department for international Trade, and David Davis in charge of the Brexit negotiations themselves. None will appeal to the Europeans. Boris Johnson is hated for his persistent lies, and his appointment has been the subject of much derision worldwide.

It will now be on the Brexiteer's head if they fail to come up with a good deal, and if they fail to realize all the wonderful opportunities for Trade with the rest of the world which Brexit was supposed to open up. One has to ask whether May is even serious about coming up with any kind of a deal, witness the French response to Boris Johnson's appointment:

In Paris, Johnson has long been seen as an outrageous "French-basher" and bizarre English eccentric, once summed up by Le Monde as "a Monty Python-style politician who appears to avoid taking things seriously".

His appointment as foreign secretary was met with a degree of appalled surprise from French media and commentators, many of whom had been shocked by what was seen as the intellectual dishonesty of some of Johnson's comments during the referendum campaign, namely when he likened the EU to a project by Adolf Hitler.


But he is best known for what has been seen as his relentless "French bashing" and endless quest for hammy punchlines at the expense of France. France bristled when, at the Conservative party conference in 2012, he said he welcomed "talented French people" who wanted to flee François Hollande's tax rises, adding that France had been "captured by sans culottes" running a tyranny of the like not seen since the French revolution.


Jean Quatremer, Brussels correspondent for the French daily Libération, referred to Johnson's reputation as a liar by tweeting that his appointment "shows what Britain's word is worth".

David Davis may have been put in charge of the actual detailed negotiations, but it seems that Johnson will set the tone of future relations with the EU. I doubt a deal will be done within the two year time frame, and then the UK will be out on their ear without any deal whatsoever. A deal subsequent to the two year Article 50 period is unlikely because that would require unanimity among the EU's members and could be blocked by Malta, if it so wished.  Having derided the EU's lack of democracy for so long, the UK would then be hoist on the petard of excessive democracy within the EU.

One also has to ask how long this Government can last, what with a majority of only 12 and many bruised egos among the sacked cabinet ministers. Will a failure to secure any kind of favourable Brexit deal provoke a new general election? Will the UK economy decline into persistent recession despite Krugman's skepticism about the short term negative impact of Brexit? Is the market hysteria over the "uncertainty" bug merely the flip side of the illusive "confidence fairy" he has so oft derided?

Some things are more important than German car exports.  The EU was built for the long haul and it's stability is now in doubt. I suspect the EU will bide it's time all the while maintaining internal stability by demonstrating the perils of schism.  Ultimately I expect Scotland to break free and rejoin the EU, and N. Ireland to melt down - peacefully, I hope. Everybody wins, except the Brits, and perhaps the Irish...

But we are now at the mercy of events. Labour need to get their act together in the UK, and soon. In normal times, the Brexit vote would have been a policy disaster that would have destroyed any government. Right now its seems that the Tories can get away with anything because there is no effective opposition. Who is there to represent the 48% who voted remain and who are increasingly aghast at the more recent turn of events?

Andrea Leadsom gets environment and farms - she will now have to figure out how agriculture can survive without EU Cap payments. She will also be the one to decide on fish quotas post EU - or will "the market" be allowed to decide how fish stocks are to be devastated?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 02:40:54 PM EST
she is also a climate change sceptic in charge of renewable energy policy.

But at Countryside, she will be free to re-introduce fox-hunting, which is one of her great projects

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 08:24:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is she really a climate skeptic? I goggled her and I could only find statements that were at least mildly positive on reducing carbon emissions.

I have no doubt that fox-hunting will be a major priority for the Tories.

by rz on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 08:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
she asked officials if climate change was real, which suggests a level of basic ignorance you'd expect from a denier. The fact that she's committed to expanding fracking suggests that, whatever answer she's received, she's not taking it seriously

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 10:13:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Get's the N. Ireland Brief... what an appropriate name, given that the somewhat tenuous links between N. I. and the shires may well be broken...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 02:42:10 PM EST
If NI meltdowns there is almost no chance it will be peaceably, the Orange Order, etc., will make sure of that.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 02:45:11 PM EST
As you can imagine, I have a lot of thoughts on that.  I did my masters in Peace Studies partly on the N.I. Peace process and had a PHd proposal on same accepted before I decided to do other stuff.  Suffice to say there are a lot of ways in which this can play out relatively peacefully, but a lot depends on the quality of leadership on all sides. On that front I am currently not very optimistic, although it has to be said that the departure of Teresa Villiers is no loss.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 02:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of previous NI policy was driven by violently pro-Orange sympathies within the Secret Service dating back to WW2.

I think if the Orange Order were to attempt to reestablish ancient privileges, I think they might be disappointed at how quickly they were disavowed in Whitehall. Petty hostilities in Ulster are a problem the UK doesn't need and can't afford. Ulster's tribes may have to learn to live with each other cos the UK are no longer in a position to indulge them by paying a fortune to keep them apart.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 08:30:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Ulster's tribes may have to learn to live with each other"...or suffer mutual annihilation of the aggressive males in each tribe. Or both, in sequence.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:04:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have held the view for 40 years now that Irish reunification will come not when the Irish want it, but when it is no longer in Britain's strategic interest to retain N. Ireland.  That time is soon, and will probably coincide with Scottish independence.  My main concern has always been that it will be triggered by some crisis in England, and that Ireland, North and South will be unprepared for it, and Unionists will have had no chance to get used to the idea.

The referendum wording last time out (Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum, 1998) provided a simple binary choice between remaining in the UK or joining a united Ireland.  There was no provision for or discussion of how such a united Ireland might be structured, what transition mechanisms might be agreed, and what measures would be adopted to protect the interests of both Unionists and nationalists if that choice were to be made.

In other words the option presented looked like a simple take-over of the north by the south - something likely to cause armed resistance and civil disorder desired by neither side.  

My view has always been that there would have to be prior agreement to an international Treaty between Ireland and the UK providing for the transfer of sovereignty, the protection of human rights, some devolution of powers to the North  at  least for a lengthy transitional period, a Northern veto on future constitutional changes,  and some transitional financial transfers (perhaps also from EU regional/structural funds) to make the whole thing viable from a budgetary perspective North and South.

The more you can reduce uncertainty as to what such a future "united Ireland" would look like, the less fear it would engender, and the more all non-extremists are likely to buy into it, especially if then approved by a majority vote, North and south.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 10:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always thought that if the North opted for re-unification, the South would block it. Maybe one or two of the majority catholic border counties could be included.

However, having to take on and incorporate the poisonous politics of the Orange order would probably be more than most decent people in the Republic could bear. Unless you could persaude Scotland to take them back....

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 10:58:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget that the Good Friday agreement was incorporated into the Irish Constitution by a 94% vote in 1998, when memories of the troubles were very recent and real.  Yes, some people will baulk at taking on a c. £11 Billion p.a. liability, but few doubt that the Northern Ireland economy could be turned around just as the Irish economy has been developed since the 1960's.

It will take time, and hence planning and transitional measures.  Good will and cooperation between Ireland and the UK will be crucial perhaps with Ireland re-joining the Commonwealth as a largely symbolic gesture. The Northern Unionists actually have the good fortune that a larger and more viable entity actually wants them and is prepared to make compromises to address their legitimate concerns.

The differences between Northern Unionists and conservative Irish Nationalists are not as deep as you might imagine.  Even Ian Paisley was eventually adopted by both sides...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 11:23:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I rather doubt the NI economy can be turned around. Well, maybe like the Irish one has: as yet another fading hinterland to Dublin. What services can Belfast provide Dublin?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 11:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the current behavior of the Blairite Labour clearly demonstrates that they prefer the current Tory government to one led by Corbyn. I have to ascribe this to careerism, as it seems unclear as to the extent, if any, of the genuine principles to which they hold.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 03:10:08 PM EST
They are now between a rock and a hard place. The rock is Corbyn and a large majority of the labour party membership who now owe them nothing and who may well move to de-select many of them in due course.  Some may well try to jump ship for the Tories or the Lib Dems. However the Tories will treat them with contempt and the Lib Dems are only competitive in a few parts of the country.

The hard place will be to try to effect some kind of reconciliation with the Corbynistas within the Labour party and hope the Tories don't call a general election until after the 2 year Article 50 period has elapsed.  They can then unite around campaigning against whatever terms the Tories have managed to negotiate and point to the many broken promises of the Brexit campaign.

If the Brexit negotiations turn out as badly as I suspect, they could then actually win the next election irrespective of who is the Labour leader.  But it will be too late to reverse Brexit at that stage, so basically they will get to clean up the mess left by the Tories.

Of course, I wouldn't put it past the Tories to try and withdraw an article 50 invocation if the negotiations don't end well - within the two year period.  There is no provision for that in Article 50, so the lawyers would have a field day. Either way, no one in the EU would ever take the UK seriously again - a fitting end to Boris' career.

But most probably the UK will simply limp along, dreaming dreams of empire, touting "special relationships" all over the place, and not realising that the joke is on them.  It would be a sad end to a once proud empire, but is there any other sort?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 03:36:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sad end: in historical comparison, it's still quite graceful. Almost everyone else blew themselves up. There was also the opportunity to coast along on "we 'defeated' the Nazis". But that can only get you so far. Remembering the recent good old days: David Cameron, this isn't Love Actually. Give up on the greatness guff
"Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience"
I sure hope the next years will show the UK's big heart. Because on the other side of the continent we will have to deal with our own complexes.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 09:13:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Withdrawal of Article 50 could become a hot topic as soon as the difficulties with the negotiations become clear. Another factor that could help is that each of the three merry Brexiteers is so massively unsuited to the tasks at hand that they may either resign or be sacked - starting with Boris. I read that some German news presenters couldn't keep from laughing when reading out the news of his appointment. And I suspect he is about as capable of fundamental change as The Donald.

If they do resign or get sacked, who will replace them? And having them blow up will start to deflate the triumphalism of the Leave voters. I expect a marked shortage of volunteers to replace them. And how many Brexiteers can May find to walk the plank? Then the search for alternatives will start. This may well be May's plan - or become her plan. Wait until panic starts to set in.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:16:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really don't think it is the plan. I think May is too literal-minded to imagine something like this.

The appointment of Johnson genuinely makes me wonder about her sanity. Of course it's hilarious, and of course it gives Boris an excuse to disgrace himself.

But it's like farting loudly during the Queen's Speech. There's a grating inappropriateness to it - and to some of the other appointments - which is a rage-filled fuck-you to the world.

It's petty and small-minded, and it's certainly not something a competent diplomat would do.

As for Brexit - once Article 50 is triggered, we get two years no matter what. (Lisbon allows for an extension, if the European Council agrees to one. But I can't see that happening.)

So no matter how ridiculously disadvantageous the final deal is, there will be no going back.

And that's assuming it's going to be possible to complete negotiations in two years at all.

So I don't think May is playing 11-dimensional chess. I think it's more likely May is another generic Tory idiot, and Rest of World should probably put the UK on suicide watch.

Interestingly, Davis has outlined his plan already, and of course it includes the UK signing up for TTIP - while France has vetoed it, or at least stalled it, for the EU.

Avoidance of TTIP - "forced into it by Europe" - was one of the more popular reasons for voting for Brexit.

We'll see how that plays with Leavers.

Davis also thinks we'll get control of immigration while keeping free access to the EU market. This is so staggeringly unlikely it makes me wonder about his sanity too.

The most interesting political point here is the sheer delusional incompetence of the British establishment. We simply don't have a political culture that can deal with the 21st century. I'm hoping May is the last chance for the old Thatcherites and fascists, and once she's gone that will be it - the next generation of voters will remember these years with horror, and do almost anything to avoid repeating them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 04:15:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any extension of the 2 year period can only be by unanimous, not weighted majority, vote on the Council. In other words it is most unlikely, as any EU member state unhappy about something (not necessarily related) or worried about its internal stability could Veto it.  Expect Spain to demand Gibraltar back in exchange for agreement - for example.

I think internal politics demanded May put Brexiteers in charge of the negotiations, her previous remain stance will provide her with some political distance when they fail.

The big political gambit is that German exporters etc. need to export to UK will force the EU to compromise, but that may be to underestimate the evolution of a larger political dynamic within the EU.

Firstly there is the prize of most of the City's financial services business to compensate for loss of market share elsewhere.

Secondly, there is the urgent need, within the EU to focus on the Mediterranean members and their economic difficulties which have little to do with the UK one way or another.

Thirdly, there will be a need to demonstrate that Germany doesn't run the show all on its own, once the UK is out of the way.

Fourthly, I wouldn't underestimate the degree of (particularly French) antagonism to Boris in particular, but also to Anglo-American hegemony in general.

Fifthly, there might be considerable eastern European antagonism, insofar as Brexit was specifically designed to turf or keep their citizens out of the UK.  Racism isn't fun when it is directed at your own citizens...

Finally, the EU will be in something of an existential crisis with nationalist movements gaining ground everywhere. Dealing harshly with the UK may be the only way existing elites can maintain their grip on power.

It is to be hoped that existing EU elites will also seek to make the EU more attractive to existing members, by developing more extensive structural, regional, cohesion funds and infrastructural development projects... But maybe that is asking for too much imagination from existing elites.  My worry is that the Brexit debacle will distract from the need to actually reform the EU itself in any case - and not in any direction favoured by Tory UK.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 11:12:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My scenario would involve increasing public anxiety as the two year deadline approaches and the available deal looks worse and worse. This could paralyze the government and leave it unable to pass an Article 50 declaration - leading to a vote of no confidence and a new election at some point.

But the real question is "What triggers the Article 50 clock to start ticking?" It would seem that this is totally undefined. There is a good case to be made for an Act of Parliament being required and it would certainly seem that a formal notification of the EU by the government would be required. May has indicated she wants a Parliamentary vote. Even if the EU decides that the article has been triggered that would be the subject of legal challenges, would it not?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 04:06:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU could pass legislation or make a rule that a positive result from a referendum would trigger Article 50, but that would be a suicide pact given present sentiments in Europe and it would still be challenged in court. I don't see anything that is clear here.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 04:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Art 50 is triggered when someone high up in the British gov - probably May herself - says that Art 50 is triggered.

Currently the Tories are promising that by the end of the year, and also stating that no Act of Parliament is necessary.

Legal challenges are probably irrelevant. There is no chance the process will grind to a half once it starts, even if there's a subsequent judgement that it's unlawful. It would simply be Iraq War II - we did something stupid, and someone is responsible, but here we all are now. Oh, and lessons will be learned.

In the mean time, the EU line is that there are no formal negotiations before Art 50. And informal negotiations aren't allowed either.

The latter may be hard to enforce. But it's clear the official line is that the UK is supposed to leave with no idea what is and isn't possible in a future agreement.

What the UK seems to want is control over immigration, more than anything else. Of course this makes no sense, because immigration will continue from Can/NZ/Aus (which is fine, because they're like us) and from India/Pakistan/Africa/South Africa (not so fine - they don't speak the language and they're the wrong colour.)

Bottom line is immigration will not only not stop, it will probably accelerate.

But not triggering Art 50 would probably lead to rioting, and would certainly kill any chance of a Tory win in 2020. The rioting could probably be contained, but the latter won't be popular at Tory HQ.

Meanwhile Europe is less and likely to say "What? Oh. Fine." if the UK tries to back out of leaving. There are points to be scored and face to be saved, and also a chance to put the stupid Brits in their place and make everyone realise that the UK is very much peripheral to Europe, and not the other way around.

There's nothing in Lisbon to cover that eventuality, so we'd all be in undefined territory.

Overall, this has slow motion plane crash written all over it. The chaos and uncertainty will increase as the complete lack of negotiating competence on the UK side becomes more and more obvious. The EU has no interest in pandering to the UK, and will refuse to be bullied.

By 2018 we'll default to WTO rules with nothing else in place, and blame Europe for it. That will be just before the currency crash and the food shortages.

And the riots.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 05:20:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apart from a lack of skilled trade negotiators, there is also the almost complete lack of a sufficient customs and excise infrastructure to charge any tariffs required under WTO rules.  Expect imports and exports to grind to a halt as millions of tons of stuff is stuck in ports awaiting clearance with no certainty as to what tariffs might be applied.  

Exporters to UK may start requiring payment and customs clearance in advance before shipping anything, and UK exports will be stuck at various border posts.  International commerce could grind to a halt unless a decision is taken not to charge/check imports until the situation is clarified, but there is no guarantee the EU would return the favour as the % of their imports which come from the UK is much smaller and more manageable from their point of view and there will be a determination not to grant free access to the single market by default.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 16th, 2016 at 09:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't under-estimate Johnson or take his public persona as who he is.

He is a very intelligent man, speaks several languages, has sufficient knowledge of history to have written some well regarded papers on Greek and Roman comparative culture. He is quarter turkish and is American by birth (ciizenship only recently renounced).

His bumbling fool act is just that, an act, a clever artifice to gull people into under-estimating him. Don't ever do that.

The famous picture of him dangling trapped on a wire? He sought advice beforehand from experts on how to rig the system to do that. He stopped right in front of the cameras!!!. David Cameron was about to make a prominent speech re the Olympics and Boris blew him off the front page.

He is a self-publicist, he's a narcissist, he's notoriously lazy about things that are not about him. He's a terrible politician and a very dangerous man.

But he's nobody's fool.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 07:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think anyone takes him for a fool, more an obnoxious opportunist and demagogue who will follow wherever the crowd goes and sell his friends down the river. It was a smart move to split with Cameron and lead the Brexit campaign. If he hadn't won it would have set him up perfectly to be the next Tory leader in due course.

The problem is more: why should any other foreign minister take him seriously? What's his word worth when it comes to all the informal agreements that are the stuff of diplomacy?  Why on earth would any other negotiator go out on a limb for him?

Boris' appointment guarantees there will be no Brexit deal done with this Government.  Maybe the next one.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As people have been quick to point out, someone else is in charge of negotiating brexit. The Foreign Office, although still one of the great offices of state in the UK, is largely ceremonial these days. Much of such business is now run at Head of State level, so it will be Theresa May doing all the heavy meeting and greeting.

The FO is now largely a Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on foreign Affairs.

Boris has been promoted to a position of no consequence

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That may be the case in the UK, but the position of national foreign minister is a very important part of the EU institutional and decision making structure:
Foreign Affairs Council
The Foreign Affairs Council is a configuration of the Council of the European Union and meets once a month. Meetings bring together the Foreign Ministers of the Member States. Ministers responsible for European Affairs, Defence, Development or Trade also participate depending on the items on agenda. The configuration is unique in that is chaired by the High Representative rather than the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

At its sessions, the Council deals with the whole of the EU's external action, including Common Foreign and Security Policy, Common Security and Defence Policy, foreign trade and development cooperation. A priority in recent years for the Council, in cooperation with the European Commission, has been to ensure coherence in the EU's external action across the range of instruments at the EU's disposal.

It was created in 2009 by the Treaty of Lisbon[1] by splitting it from the "General Affairs and External Relations Council" with the other part becoming the General Affairs Council. The General and Foreign Councils are the only two Councils mentioned in the EU treaties.

As there are no equivalents to David Davies post "Secretary of State for Brexit Negotiations" - in other EU States, his counterparts in direct negotiations are more likely to be senior civil servants or junior ministers and the stuff they are likely to be doing is detailed negotiations over v. dry and complex texts.  In other words he will have very little direct visibility.  It will be the self-aggrandizing Boris who will make all the headlines and set the tone...

And yes the full EU Council made up of Presidents and Prime Ministers will make any final decision, but only based on any agreement hammered out by their juniors.  BTW I know it's early days yet, but have you noticed the lack of any rush by foreign Prime Ministers to set up meetings with May?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:51:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's intelligent in a traditional - and outdated - Classics and Greats way which is largely useless in the 21st century.

So he rigged a photo-up. That doesn't make him a political genius.

If he was truly a political genius, he would have beaten Cameron to No 10. The competition wasn't exactly fierce there, and the fact he failed - and keeps failing regularly, and is also increasingly unpopular with his own party - suggests he's not nearly the model of aristocratic statesmanship he believes he is.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 05:24:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tony Blair is on record for preferring tory government to that of the left of the Labour party.

I think the Blairites realise they've overplayed their hand and there are rumours that some of the refusniks are trying to unwind their positions. There are many horrible MPs on the Labour benches who owe their entire Westminster career to kissing Blair's backside. They have no idea what the Labour party is about or what it is for and I will not lament their going one bit when they are de-selected.

That said, there are good MPs among the rebels who have profound and principled disagreements with Corbyn and I would hope that their local parties reconise that and keep them on. In this I would single out Jess Phillips and Stella Creasey. Labour can ill afford to lose such good MPs however much they were part of the rebellion.

There are indeed good outcomes possible from the various hands in play at the moment, but that will require good will on all sides, which is in short supply at the moment.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 08:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think May has had to play domestic politics in naming Brexiters to head the various international negotiation teams. She has to appease the natives by showing that she was not attempting to sabotage the proceedings by putting a remainer in there.

I think everybody is beginning to realise what an impossible job it's going to be, so you could say she's also ensuring that it's the leave team who will do all the work and then get all the blame while she retains a pair of clean hands.

I guess from her viewpoint she knows it's a lousy hand that can only end in frustration, despair and great loss so she's playing a long game that leaves her reputation intact even as she cheerfully consigns others to their richly deserved doom.

In that sense, you can almost see that May has a macabre sense of humour sending Boris out into the world to face those many he has so frequently and cheaply offended

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 08:55:09 PM EST
you can almost see that May has a macabre sense of humour sending Boris out into the world to face those many he has so frequently and cheaply offended
Quartz: Watch John Kerry try not to laugh as the State Dept. press corps rips into Boris Johnson (19 July 2016)
I'm afraid there is such a rich thesaurus now of things that I have said that have been--one way or another, through what alchemy I do not know--somehow misconstrued, that it would really take me too long to engage in a full, global itinerary of apology to all concerned.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 25th, 2016 at 09:00:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he may have to find the time for that full global itinerary of apology cos I'm quite sure nobody has forgotten.

He got caught shooting from the hip again, this time blaming the Munich shootings on muslim extremists before all the facts were in.

He's had a bit of a slap and a stern lecture from the FCO about how to conduct oneself as Foreign Secretary. I doubt it will be the last.

And each time it will be sotree in the inventory Theresa May is compling when she totally destroys the last vestiges of any advancement Boris might be holding out for.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jul 25th, 2016 at 02:12:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everything you need to know about Theresa May's Brexit nightmare in five minutes

So we're doomed.

We're in real trouble. But May could follow a much-loved and long-followed rule of politics. She could find the longest grass available and kick this appalling problem right into it.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 10:16:18 AM EST
yes, that's a terrifying article. Far worse than I imagined

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 10:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
someone was saying that to do each trade deal would require roughly sixty experienced negotiators and technical legal experts. and in total that would add up to around 4500. unfortunately, in total we have on secondment to the EU about 25,and they might not be willing to come back.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 11:29:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole thing is madness. Reality denying madness. You think the unrest from staying would be bad? Imagine the fallout from leaving.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 11:56:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is best argument I've hard is that they're putting off telling everyone it's an idiotic fantasy till the winter when it's too cold and wet for the Brexiters to ript

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 01:27:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It will be years before that reality hits home - my guess is 3 years

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 01:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the problem really is the big thing is that many brexiters think they voted for no immigration. Which paints any negotiation into a tight corner of leaving completely.

And they will only feel the real pain of that much later as the economy continues to sink. They'll then complain that all they wanted was to control their own borders without ever understanding that it was that one wish which pulled the carpet out from under everything.

Still, mustn't allow people who know what they're doing decide anything. As Michael Gove might say, "Bloody experts"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:09:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Tories have no intention of implementing "no immigration" - if anything, the effect will be of a higher proportion of immigrants of non-European origin, which I rather doubt is what the anti-immigration crowd wanted.

What will deter immigration is the crashing economy.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:48:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So long as the numbers go down. A lot of E europeans will probably gradually drift off to other parts of the EU where they feel more welcome.

I think non-EU migration is a non-starter unless you're talking about US/NZ/Aus.

Otherwise there's gonna be a lot of complaints right in MPs faces at their local constituency parties.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 03:48:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but if the economy crashes and jobs and wages AND immigration goes down some people may put two and two together and realize that it wasn't the immigrants who caused austerity in the first place.  Too late to reverse Brexit, of course, but perhaps the start of a kinder Britain?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 03:58:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think most people know that immgrants didn't cause austerity, but that doesn't change the fact that they don't want immigration.

Mostly, when they say they wanted to take back control, they wanted to stop a pace of change that was increasingly not to their liking. And immigration, even in areas that are still remarkably lilywhite, emblemetic of the things that they didn't like.

Yes, a lot of it was austerity, but much of it was the generation long consequences of Thatcherism; unaffordable housing, lack of jobs, lousy education choices, charges for higher education, rising inequality, rising povery. for many people in the bottom half of society, things weren't just not getting better, they were getting much much worse.

As they were saying, our lives are already becoming awful, we know they can get worse but this isa way we can protest.

And they're right. FPTP means that most consittuencies are not in play at any election. which means that for an overwhelming number of people, their vote at parliamentary elections is entirely wasted, so most of them don't. They don't normally get a choice, his time they did and they gleefullythrew a spanner in the works.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 04:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think most people absolutely do blame immigration for all the UK's problems, and believe that if immigration stopped everything would be fine again.

The percentage of the population with a more informed view isn't great - 20% if you're lucky, and more likely to be less than 10%.

Most people still haven't worked out after fifty years of evidence that the Thatcherites are playing this from both ends, promoting immigration for business and class war reasons, and then scapegoating it for the UK's problems.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 05:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, there is no reason the UK cannot be out of the EU by next week.  They 2 year period provided for under article 50 is a maximum...  The UK could send a letter invoking article 50 and asking to leave with immediate effect. The EU Council can then agree by weighted majority vote and WTO rules would apply from that day on.  What could be simpler?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:03:10 PM EST
There aren't enough lawyers in the world to deal with the fallout from that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:06:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lots of countries trade with each other under WTO rules and with no specific bilateral or multilateral trade agreements to regulate that trade.  

The rules are clear if complex: my summary below

1. Most-favoured-nation (MFN): treating other people equally      

Under the WTO agreements, countries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners. Grant someone a special favour (such as a lower customs duty rate for one of their products) and you have to do the same for all other WTO members.

2. National treatment: Treating foreigners and locals equally      

Imported and locally-produced goods should be treated equally -- at least after the foreign goods have entered the market. The same should apply to foreign and domestic services, and to foreign and local trademarks, copyrights and patents. This principle of "national treatment" (giving others the same treatment as one's own nationals) is also found in all the three main WTO agreements (Article 3 of GATT, Article 17 of GATS and Article 3 of TRIPS), although once again the principle is handled slightly differently in each of these. National treatment only applies once a product, service or item of intellectual property has entered the market. Therefore, charging customs duty on an import is not a violation of national treatment even if locally-produced products are not charged an equivalent tax.

  1. Freer trade: gradually, through negotiation

  2. Predictability: through binding and transparency

In the WTO, when countries agree to open their markets for goods or services, they "bind" their commitments. For goods, these bindings amount to ceilings on customs tariff rates. Sometimes countries tax imports at rates that are lower than the bound rates. Frequently this is the case in developing countries. In developed countries the rates actually charged and the bound rates tend to be the same.

5. Promoting fair competition

The WTO is sometimes described as a "free trade" institution, but that is not entirely accurate. The system does allow tariffs and, in limited circumstances, other forms of protection. More accurately, it is a system of rules dedicated to open, fair and undistorted competition.

6. Encouraging development and economic reform

The WTO system contributes to development. On the other hand, developing countries need flexibility in the time they take to implement the system's agreements. And the agreements themselves inherit the earlier provisions of GATT that allow for special assistance and trade concessions for developing countries.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:35:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But they didn't start deeply embedded into a trading block, and needing to completely rewrite a large chunk of complicated regulations.

The problem is getting there from here.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My only point is that the more rabid Leavers in UKIP and the Tory Right are going to get extremely impatient when the only people not in a hurry to get this done and dusted are the UK Government. "Why hasn't Article 50 been invoked yet" - I can hear Nigel Farage cry as he comes out of yet another retirement - and this time he will have the whole of the EU Parliament in full agreement with him.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 02:56:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's nothing to be done about the rabid UKIPers - you can't satisfy them, no matter what you do.

The Tory right can go ask Davis and Johnson, can't they?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 03:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of violent people think they've got the right to be openly racist right now and that isn't going to go away. If A50 doesn't result in a diminished number of non-British soon after, they may start going out of their way to make those they dislike feel unwlecome. We'll be back to the 50s.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 03:51:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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