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Farage's farrago of fake facts

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 11th, 2017 at 07:04:39 PM EST

Nigel Farage has always had a good sense of timing, retiring from the leadership of UKIP three times to avoid some shit storm or other.  However far from retiring from politics, he has been indulging in his favourite pastime: causing trouble for political establishments wherever he can.  His latest venture is to try to persuade Ireland to throw in its lot with the UK and leave the EU.

Comparing the UK's vote for Brexit in 2016 with Ireland's Easter rising against British rule in 1916 is a bit crass, given the loss of life involved in sundering a colonial relationship with the British Empire. As noted by one letter writer to the Irish Times:

Would anybody really dare to equate throwing off violent and systematic oppression - from the British Empire, no less - to the completely peaceful and legally regulated process of withdrawing from the EU? All I can say here is that there was no such thing as an "article 50" for any of Britain's colonies.

And as noted by another letter writer:

The Easter Rising of 1916 was indeed a strike for national freedom but, under the influence of Roger Casement, it was also an action in sympathy with Germany and "European civilisation". Casement is the father of Irish foreign policy and his writings on the diplomatic machinations that led to the Great War gave the 1916 leaders their orientation in international affairs. This is expressed in the sacred script of Irish nationalism, the Proclamation, in the reference to "gallant allies in Europe".

However undeterred by such trifling distinctions in our histories, Farage paints the British Irish relationship in honeyed hues:

Nigel Farage: Ireland should remember who its real friends are when Brexit comes

It is beyond doubt that the relations between Ireland and Great Britain are in the best shape they have been for over a century. Ties of language, family, history, free trade and free travel bind us together irrespective of any external factors such as the European Union.

Farmers, businesses and small traders do €1 billion worth of trade with the United Kingdom every week. So it is clearly in the interests of the Irish and British public that this free trade, travel and close relations continue and grow into the future. It is patently obvious that both Irish and British politicians want this situation to continue because it is mutually beneficial.

In 2009-2012, cheap credit of the euro currency and the mass migration of cheap labour from eastern Europe gave Ireland an almighty boom and bust. Who was Ireland's friend at this devastating juncture?

While Britain immediately offered Ireland a sizeable interest-free loan, the EU on the other hand, unfairly imposed a €64 billion Franco-German bank debt on the Irish taxpayer.

Incredibly, this imposition from the EU happened with the collusion of Irish politicians who justified it by saying they were "taking one for the team". Many of Ireland's political class believe in putting the interests of the European Union above the interests of their own people.

The improved relations between Ireland and the UK which Farage describes have come about mainly as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, which recognised the right of Nationalists in the North to express their Irish identity and have it granted "parity of esteem" with the British identity espoused by unionists. It is this parity of esteem which has now been put at risk by Brexit, which denies Northern Irishmen and women their right to the European citizenship aspects of their Irish citizenship.

It is also Brexit which threatens to undermine the close trading relationships between Ireland and the UK, and not the EU, Single Market, and Customs Union the UK now wants to leave. The mass immigration from Eastern Europe helped enrich the Irish economy and society, and cannot be blamed for the crash which followed. The loan from the UK, welcome as it was, was anything but interest free, and specifically given to avoid difficulties at UK banks exposed to Irish debt.

Yes, overly cheap credit brought about by Germany's need to recover from the costs of re-unification led, in part, to the boom and bust Farage describes, but the Euro remains relatively popular in Ireland - tied as we were, for so many years, to Sterling, when we didn't have even a token representative on the Board of the Bank of England to represent our interests.

The 20 year experiment in running our own currency, the Irish Punt, (from 1978-1998), was a period marked by relatively high inflation, interest rates and currency volatility which imposed currency exchange costs and risks on the Irish economy. The ability of even a medium sized hedge fund or bank to game the currency meant that it's value often didn't reflect the fundamental strengths and needs of the Irish economy either.

So yes, Mr. Farage, the EU and particularly the Euro has its problems, but we are not about to re-join what is left of the British empire in a reprise of our previous subjugated role. Many of the problems we will face in the future are being created, not resolved by Brexit and we value the market access, social solidarity and political support provided by the EU more than the often benighted relationship we had with the UK.

We are proud that we are now a net contributor to the EU because that reflects the relative economic success our membership has helped us achieve. 88% of Irish people want to remain within the EU and 81% think the UK is wrong to leave. Yes a very small minority have always been against Irish EU membership but the vast majority, including even those like Sinn Fein who were initially opposed, now support continued membership. David McWilliams, a noted contrarian, is almost the sole prominent public commentator currently even entertaining the idea of "Irexit".

You have the gall to say:

The EU is being stupidly provocative by interfering in the excellent relationship between Britain and Ireland. Its crude attempt to hamper Brexit risks fanning the flames of political violence over the Border and its constitutional settlement in Ireland. Nobody with any sense in either Britain or Ireland wants that to happen. The EU should butt out.

When it is you and Brexit which risks causing these problems. Yes, Mr. Farage, we know who our real friends are, and you were never among them. It's time you butted out.

While Britain immediately offered Ireland a sizeable interest-free loan, the EU on the other hand, unfairly imposed a €64 billion Franco-German bank debt on the Irish taxpayer.

The loan from the UK, welcome as it was, was anything but interest free, and specifically given to avoid difficulties at UK banks exposed to Irish debt.

You are correct, but far too generous to Farage here. This narrative of the selfless British as opposed to those nasty European prompted me to do some googling a while back to see if I could find an actual factual basis for it. As far as I could tell there is no basis:

  • In terms of conditions the loan was no better than any other contribution made to the bailout. While it was a direct British-Irish loan, it seems totally coordinated with the rest of the bailout. I found no clear indication that the British loan offered better initial terms, or that the British were in any way more pro-active by, for instance, being more forthcoming in supporting relaxation of the terms as Ireland's position improved over time. Possibly they might have been in practice, but it doesn't show up in real terms because the various contributors to the bailout act in unison rather than unilaterally.
  • The bilateral nature of the loan was probably mainly due to the UK's position as a non-Euro country. It is no more special that the bilateral loans from Denmark and Sweden. In terms of loan size relative to the size of these countries' economies, all three contributions are comparable. In any case, the contribution of those two countries in more noteworthy because they have significantly less direct exposure to the Irish economy.
  • You gotta love the "Franco-German banks" angle. According to this: https://www.theguardian.com/business/datablog/2010/nov/22/ireland-bailout-bank-exposure the UK was the country with the largest exposure in the case of the Irish debt crisis. From the same source, the UK contribution is less that that of both Germany and France, so they got their bailout comparatively cheaply.

About the only plus I can determine is that, given the British reluctance to contribute to the Greek bailout, they could simply have declined to contribute to the Irish bailout but did not do so. However, that hardly deserves plaudits given the exposure of UK banks. Moreover, given that they demonstrated a willingness to act unilaterally in the case of Greece, that would suggest that they could have chosen to unilaterally offer Ireland much more favourable terms that the other contributing countries (i.e. the interest-free loan of Farage's fantasy).

Now perhaps there were some aspects of the British loan that were more favourable to Ireland and I simply have not the insight to recognize them. If that is the case I will be very happy if someone on here can correct me on this score. As things currently stand, I could find nothing particularly remarkable about the UK contribution to the bailout. It seems like Farage's narrative is simply a complete fabrication - just par for the course for him.

by det on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 07:13:04 AM EST
About the only way the British loan was superior to the others is that the Brits managed to surround it with better PR by framing it as a Eurozone rescue mission and thus where they had less to gain.  Of course it was always a European bank rescue mission - as is the Greek bailout - and as such British banks had the largest exposure. As usual Schäuble et al manage to seem churlish and mean spirited even when they are being more helpful than others.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 07:42:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Farage is just a hsit-stirrer who is doing his best to disrupt the EU. He's managed to bamboozle the UK into brexit, he was obviously trying t help Marine Le Pen in her bid to create Frexit and now he's trying to co-opt Ireland into his anti-EU project.

Such is his anti-EU malice, you'd almost imagine he was working directly for Putin.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 07:34:17 AM EST
About the only thing you can say for Farage is that he has been utterly consistent in his opposition to all things EU since his co-founding of UKIP in 1993, and pre-dates the rise of Putin as Prime Minister (1999) by some years in this respect.  However he has also always been utterly mercenary in his approach so who is to say who is bank rolling him now? His disregard for facts puts him in synch with Trump and both are utterly unapologetic in their determination to do whatever it takes to further their own careers and bank balances. He has managed to merge politics with comedy and entertainment to such an extent that one would almost have to create a neologism "politainment" to describe his shtick.  The problem is that so many people, especially in the UK, take him seriously.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 07:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

more meddling & interference..

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 02:29:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shift in Irish diplomacy
A case of "political lovebombing". The simultaneous visits yesterday of Prince Charles and Michel Barnier, chief EU Brexit negotiator, were in their different ways simply messages of support, assurances that Ireland's preoccupations are understood. As Prince Charles told President Higgins, a message about sustaining "an enduring and mutually productive relationship between close neighbours". Hear, hear, Barnier might have said.

"I have no doubt, despite current challenges, that our relationship will continue to endure and prosper," the prince said, alluding as much to the post-Brexit reality, as to any Northern difficulties.

And Barnier reiterated in the Dáil the message of the last two summits, assiduously cultivated by Dublin: "I want to reassure the Irish people, in this negotiation Ireland's interest will be the union's interest ...We are in this negotiation together and a united EU will be here for you".

Recent weeks have seen the evolution of a subtle shift in Ireland's posture. From a sympathetic emphasis on getting a deal that the UK could live with that "benefited all", now the subtext reflected in both Barnier's speech and the Taoiseach's response is very much about Ireland as one of the EU 27, negotiating with the UK. There will be many issues where, although Ireland still has a strategic interest in a deal being done with the UK, we will find ourselves on the other side of the table. Not least, one might surmise, on the UK Brexit bill. Who will pay for agricultural support?

The Taoiseach made clear, for example, that while we, like the UK, may have favoured a quick move to parallel talks on the future EU trading relationship with the UK, such talks can only begin after the European Council as a whole decides that "sufficient progress" has been made on the three preliminary "divorce" issues - the rights of citizens, the UK's Brexit bill and Ireland's border problem. London will not have been particularly happy with his clarification - the council's involvement is an additional unwelcome hurdle.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 09:52:29 AM EST
Irish voters want the negotiations on Brexit to focus on economic issues, jobs and the future of the EU, more than any special relationship with the UK, according to a new survey.

Concerns about future prosperity and growth also rank higher with voters in the Republic than the future relationship with Northern Ireland or the possibility of a hard border, the survey for the EPP group in the European Parliament indicates.

However, seven out of 10 Irish people say it is important the Belfast Agreement is not undermined by the deal reached on Brexit. The importance people attach to the agreement falls off with age, from 79 per cent among over 55-year-olds to 53 per cent in the 18-34 year-old group.


Some 78 per cent of EU citizens want the Brexit negotiations to focus mainly on protecting the "good future" of the remaining 27 members of the Union, compared to just 22 per cent who say the focus should be on building a new economic relationship with the UK and giving it special conditions post-Brexit.

This emphasis on the future of the EU rather than relationships with the UK is consistent across the nine member states, though least pronounced in Ireland and Sweden.

Nine out of 10 EU citizens say they want the negotiations to protect the economies of the remaining member states, enhance financial markets and ensure financial stability and focus on the longer-term interest of the Union rather than any short-term gains. In contrast, just 55 per cent say the negotiations should prioritise the future wellbeing of the UK economy.

And while EU citizens are primarily concerned with future economic interests post-Brexit, 88 per cent of people across the Union - and 87 per cent in Ireland - also say the negotiations should ensure the UK pays any outstanding financial obligations to the EU.

Some 93 per cent of Irish voters are concerned to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK post-Brexit, the highest level for any EU country.

Asked what the focus should be for the EU following Brexit, 92 per cent of people across the member states identify economic growth and job creation as a priority, and 93 per cent keeping money safe/financial stability. Other priorities are increased counter-terrorism integration (92 per cent), research and innovation (90 per cent), protection against unfair competition in a globalised world economy (89 per cent) and a closer defence union (85 per cent).

However, concerns about economic and financial issues are strongest in Ireland, where 98 per cent of people want the EU to focus on economic growth and jobs and 97 per cent on financial stability.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 07:51:59 PM EST
A resurgent Franco-German led EU is Britain's nightmare
One of the many implausible arguments used by pro-Brexit campaigners was the idea that Britain should leave in order to avoid the chaos that will ensue from the inevitable break-up of the EU.

Indeed, for a brief moment at least, it was possible to take all this slightly seriously. The potential for populist political takeovers in Holland, France, Germany and Italy loomed on the horizon.

The slow cancer of high unemployment and low economic growth looked too be a permanent state of affairs. Greece is always on the edge of some precipice or other. All of a sudden, none of this looks to be important, or at least quite as worrying, any more.

The significance of the election of the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, should not be underestimated. That France managed to avoid electing Marine Le Pen is to be celebrated but does not mean that both France and the EU can go back to sleep. Business as usual is simply not an option.


Macron is that politician the tabloids of any country - and their uneducated rich owners - love to hate: an unashamed globalist who likes nice restaurants; a philosophy graduate; a Schubert loving piano player; a writer of books full of ideas. Just for a second compare all that to Theresa May. Or Donald Trump.

For the EU to survive it has to be strengthened. Given the impending British general election it is hard to know just who will comprise the UK's Brexit negotiating team but, whoever they are, they should take notice of the simple fact that the EU's clear priority is now self-preservation.

That means doing a deal with the UK is important but isn't the number one objective. Macron wants the EU to thrive and has some orthodox ideas about how to achieve this but with a distinctly French - dirisgiste -- flavour.


A resurgent Franco-German partnership pursuing goals that will only suit the UK by coincidence is exactly the set-up that led successive generations of UK politicians to try and join the EU in the first place. Lack of influence was a problem back then and is going to be an even bigger issue going forward.

In a very real sense the EU is setting itself an agenda that prioritises lots of things above Brexit. Attention-seeking UK politicians may be surprised by the relative indifference they encounter in Brussels over the next few months. And this is as it should be. Brexit, by definition, is all-consuming for the UK but should not be that big a deal for the EU.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 13th, 2017 at 09:19:58 AM EST
I rather think that the EU is going to stay in trouble while its economic outlook is driven by a rigid neoconservative dogma aligned to German economic hegemony.

I'm sure Macron is a nice guy and kind to animals but, within the EU, he's just a propagandist for a policy of a serially proven failure

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat May 13th, 2017 at 03:25:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US economic hegemony: Let's do give credit for GWOT, front-loading NATO, WTO and GATT, TTP and TTIP, spurious immigration policy, "free" trade and "right-to-work" principles, pandemic FX volatility, and complex-structured-securities innovation where credit is due.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 03:08:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Enterprise Ireland report reveals Brexit impact on Irish exports

Client companies record big drop in UK export growth in 2016 as sterling depreciates

Client companies of Enterprise Ireland have reported a major slowdown in the growth of Irish exports to the UK in the wake of Brexit.

In its latest report, the State agency responsible for helping Irish companies export to international markets said export growth to the UK had slowed from 12 per cent in 2015 to 2 per cent last year.

The fall-off was largely due to a decline in food exports, which have been worst-hit by the recent depreciation in sterling. The UK accounted for about a third of the €21.6 billion in exports from Enterprise Ireland supported firms last year.

"The fact that the growth of exports to the UK have slowed suggests that the impact of Brexit on Irish companies has already started," Julie Sinnamon, the chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, said.


Despite the economic uncertainty hanging over world markets, exports from Enterprise Ireland client companies grew by 6 per cent to €21.6 billion last year, with the UK accounting for over a third of the total.

Export sales grew across most territories, the agency noted, with growth in the US and Canada jumping by 19 per cent to €3.7 billion, followed by the Asia Pacific region, which was up 16 per cent to €1.8 billion.

On a sector-by-sector basis, the strongest export growth globally was in software and internationally traded services. which grew by 16 per cent to €4.3 billion.

Life sciences, engineering, cleantech, paper print, packaging and electronics exports rose by 10 per cent to €3.9 billion while construction, timber and consumer retail exports increased by 8 per cent to €2.9 billion.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 15th, 2017 at 05:05:47 PM EST

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