Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Silly Season

by Frank Schnittger Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 03:44:02 PM EST

August is traditionally termed "the silly season" in the northern hemisphere anglophone media because that is the time when governments, legislatures, and their associated media handlers are on holidays, and newspapers are stuck with having to make up their own news. Many editors keep a stock of non-time specific stories which they can use to fill their column inches and keep their punters entertained on the beach or wherever else they feel an urge to keep connected to "the real world".

In the UK, the silly season often extends to the party conference season in late September/early October just ahead of when Parliament, the Courts and the Universities  traditionally emerged from their summer hiatus. It probably dates back to the time that September was the harvest season, and no one could be expected to be away from their country estates until the crops were safely garnered in.

And so we have the Labour Party conference where Corbyn continued his slow dance of moving to the political centre, supporting a second referendum as a decidedly second choice to his preferred option of a general election to put the Tory government out of it's Brexit misery. Now we have the Tories disporting themselves in their patriotic red white and blue colours, declaring their undying love for the Union, (the UK, that is) and telling Jonny foreigner where to get off.

It is time for the EU to get realistic, apparently, and put forward an alternative to the Prime Minister's absolutely fabulous Chequers proposals. You couldn't make this up...

Pat Leahy, political correspondent of the Irish Times (in an email circular) begins by offering some free advice:

If you are a Minister or a Taoiseach dealing directly with Brexit (Yes, Messers Coveney, Donohoe, Varadkar) or a senior official guiding the ship of state in the background or a journalist trying to make sense of the British position or indeed a concerned Irishman or woman who pays attention to these matters: do not, on any account, tune in the Conservative Party conference, currently under way amid Birmingham's ancient arches and dreaming spires.

It will not do your mental equilibrium any good, and as we are all tediously advised these days, you must mind your mental health, whatever that means.

Symptoms of exposure to the Tory conference include holding your head in your hands and sobbing, banging your head against a wall or shouting "BUT THEY ARE THE ONES LEAVING" and "THE NORTH IS DIFFERENT, THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT" at passing strangers. Should you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, on no account should you share your feelings, or attempt to talk to someone about it. Just shut up and get on with things.

Apparently, Dominic Raab, offered the EU this sage advice:

Britain is willing to listen to "alternative ways" of delivering Brexit as negotiations with the European Union move into their final phase, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has told the Conservative Party conference. "If the EU want a deal, they need to get serious. And they need to do it now," he said.

The Irish Times feels constrained to counter:

It's usually wise to treat the overblown rhetoric of party conferences as theatrical "noises off", fodder for an excitable rank-and-file. But when a foreign minister speaks, even to party loyalists, the world listens.

What then are we to make of British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt's preposterous and offensive comparison on Sunday, echoing the reactionary leaders of Poland and Hungary, of the EU to the Soviet Union, a "prison" whose inmates are punished for trying to escape. Describing the EU's Brexit approach as an attempt to "keep the club together" by punishing "a member who leaves", Hunt asked: "What happened to the confidence and ideals of the European dream? The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving.

"The lesson from history is clear: If you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won't diminish. It will grow and we won't be the only prisoner that will want to escape."

Prisoner? Yet the door is open. You are free to leave any time, Mr Hunt. Go, and take your baggage with you. But the trouble is that you don't want just to leave. You want to retain all the rights of those remaining incarcerated - free lunches, participation in communal training, the right to sell your wares in the cellblocks unhindered ....

And then there's the small matter of your other commitments. Like that to Ireland and a frictionless Border - there's your insistence that when you make a choice to leave the EU, it is the EU, not you, which must change its rules to accommodate your obligations to your own citizens.

At a time when negotiations with partners are particularly sensitive, with 10 days to the crucial October summit, one might expect tact and sensitivity would be the order of the day for a country's senior diplomat. Yet your comparison with the Soviet Union could not be calculated to be more offensive to states that remember that regime only too well, to leaders like Angela Merkel who emerged from that system. "Open a history book from time to time," the European Commission's spokesman suggested politely yesterday.

As Baiba Braže, Latvia's ambassador to Britain, tweeted: "Soviets killed, deported, exiled and imprisoned 100 thousands of Latvia's inhabitants after the illegal occupation in 1940, and ruined lives of 3 generations. The EU has brought prosperity, equality, growth, respect. #StrongerTogether." The EU will take no lectures from a Tory minister on protecting freedom.

And Hunt is not the only Tory playing dangerous conference games. Prime minister Theresa May's repeated insistence in recent days that the EU has yet to explain its objections to UK proposals is patent nonsense.

It is also verging on a level of bad faith that bodes ill for any prospect of agreement.

As if that were not enough, Arlene Foster, Leader of the DUP has also been attending the Tory conference, speaking of her admiration for Boris Johnson, and having this to say about the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland even though it was opposed by the DUP every step of the way:

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said the Belfast Agreement should not be considered untouchable in Brexit negotiations.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mrs Foster said it was not a sacrosanct piece of legislation.

She said: "It has been deeply frustrating to hear people who voted Remain and in Europe talk about Northern Ireland as though we can't touch the Belfast Agreement.

"Things evolve, even in the EU context."

Mrs Foster also said she wanted to see more focus on the positives of Brexit.

"I think the reason why so many people are turned off by Brexit is because they are being fed a diet of negativity - whether it's infighting, Brussels, being disrespected by people over there.

"We haven't been able to talk about the aspirations for the nation [because] we've spent so much time arguing about what's happened, is it going to be a disaster for Ireland in inverted commas, instead of actually focusing on what we can achieve in the UK with the Brexit negotiations."

She's right about one thing: No one has been able to articulate the benefits of Brexit for Northern Ireland, mainly because there aren't any. But fear not: Boris Johnson is about to address the conference today, and he is a noted scholar on all things Irish. NOT.

Mrs Foster was speaking ahead of the Tory party conference where Boris Johnson will use his speech to issue a clarion call to activists to "believe in Conservative values".

In what will undoubtedly be seen as a pitch to replace Theresa May as leader, Mr Johnson will not only restate his opposition to the prime minister's handling of Brexit but call on Tories to focus on law and order, tax cuts and house-building in order to defeat Labour.

As Mrs May celebrated her 62nd birthday, Mr Johnson was pictured jogging through a field near his Oxfordshire home, in a photo apparently designed to mock the prime minister's famous memories of "running through wheatfields" as a mischievous schoolgirl.

Mrs Foster praised Mr Johnson's "belief" and "spirit" and said she'd be happy to work with him as prime minister.

It should be noted that the Tory Party is formally named the "Conservative and Unionist" party, but its links are traditionally more with the anglophile "Ulster Unionist Party", not with the Paisleyite Free Presbyterian DUP traditionally more closely associated with Scottish "planters" of Presbyterian stock: I.e. people who emigrated from Scotland to take over lands confiscated from Irish Catholics who failed to aligned themselves with the British crown.

So while all the talk now is of an alignment between the DUP and the Tory party, this is an alignment strictly for short term politically expedient pragmatic motives. Culturally, there is little love lost between them, which may also explain why Arlene Foster has not been slow to speak well of Boris Johnson at a time when any such comments might not go down well with any remaining Theresa May faithful.

For some reason the EU27 is supposed to take all this guff on the chin as one would indulge a 4 year old engaged in a petulant screaming session. The EU27 are expected to re-engage in talks next week as if none of this had happened, or if it did, that it was purely for domestic consumption. We shall see. There is every prospect of the Brexit talks going completely off the rails, such has been the emotional gulf which has opened up between them at this late stage in the talks, at a time when negotiators are usually engaged in trying to minimize the the remaining gaps between opposing positions.

Once the conference and silly season is over, next week, Theresa May is expected to unveil her bright new, shining, proposals for the Irish border. Various reports suggest this may include renewed attempts to kick this whole issue into the post Brexit transition period, enabling the UK to blame "EU intransigence" for failing to agree "friction-less trade" in any post Brexit situation resulting in a hard Irish border; giving the currently defunct Northern Ireland Assembly a role in deciding on any "regularity divergence" between the UK and N. Ireland, which might result in some customs controls "in the Irish sea"; and agreeing to full regularity alignment between the UK and EU pending the development of technological solutions to avoiding customs controls at the border. Somehow it is always up to the EU to develop an alternative workable solution.

As Fintan O'Toole notes in the Irish Times, the UK has had many years to develop such "technological solutions" to avoid a hard border between the British territory of Gibraltar which is outside the Customs Union, and Spain, and yet has failed to do so. And that is with a territory with just one border crossing, whereas there are 208 official crossings between N. Ireland and Ireland, and an infinite number of unofficial ones.

But no report entitled "the silly season" would be complete without repeating Boris Johnson's epic contribution:

In a speech which delighted an audience at the Conservative Party conference, Mr Johnson called for no new taxes and extra health service spending while the room erupted into cheers when he said Mrs May needed "to chuck Chequers," as her Brexit proposals are known.

With just six months before Britain leaves the European Union, Mrs May's precarious position at the helm of her party has been further shaken by criticism of her plans, both at home and in Brussels.

Mr Johnson, who became the figurehead for the campaign to leave the EU, has been one of her loudest critics.

"Do not believe them when they say there is no other plan and no alternative," Mr Johnson told the hundreds of Conservatives who queued to get a seat in a 1,500-seat conference hall.

"This is the moment to chuck Chequers," he said. "If we cheat the electorate, and Chequers is a cheat, we will escalate that sense of mistrust."

Mrs May's team had hoped the party's annual conference would hand her a platform to revitalise a pledge she made when she became prime minister in 2016 to help those people who are "just about managing" and try to steal the initiative from Labour.

But the conference has been dominated by Brexit, with eurosceptic lawmakers attracting hundreds of Conservative members to their events on the fringes. Only handfuls turned out to hear ministers' speeches in the main hall.

With apologies in advance for any incoherence in the above. My Wifi in Spain is has been inoperative for the past week, and I have repaired, in desperation, to a local Spanish hostelry which feels obliged to place a bottle of wine plus chopitos on the table with the standard lunch menu. Politeness and a concern not to offend my hosts has obliged me to accept their hospitality, even thought, dear reader, my primary concern is always to inform and entertain your higher intellectual functions and create a forum for enlightened discourse. Your indulgence is appreciated...(hic!)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 05:12:54 PM EST
We've been up and down and over and out and every which way but backwards about Brexit.  And the conclusion is the same: No Deal Brexit.  The consequences will be harsh but the Brexiters don't care and May is totally focused with her power and keeping the Tory party from splitting.  Thus she won't offer anything even remotely acceptable to the EU.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 05:18:01 PM EST
`Good Friday Agreement not up for negotiation' in Brexit talks
The Belfast Agreement is not up for negotiation in the Brexit talks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that the Government would stand by and defend the primacy of the agreement.

"We see the Government as being co-defenders of that agreement," he said.

"And certainly as far as this Government is concerned the Good Friday Agreement is not up for negotiation in these talks over Brexit."

The Taoiseach was responding to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who raised the issue following the publication of a newspaper interview in which DUP leader Arlene Foster said the Belfast Agreement was not sacrosanct and could be changed to facilitate a Brexit deal.

Ms Foster had expressed deep frustration with EU officials and those in favour of the UK remaining in the union, who repeatedly stated that the Belfast Agreement could not be touched.

Ms McDonald said: "The DUP rejected the Good Friday Agreement. They embrace Brexit and on both counts they act in defiance of the wishes of the people in the North."

It should be noted that the Good Friday Agreement is not a matter of simple domestic legislation, as asserted by Arlene Foster, and which could therefore be amended unilaterally by a simple act of Parliament in the UK. It is an international Treaty, lodged with the UN, between the UK and Irish Governments, and which was passed in Ireland only after a popular referendum which amended the Irish Constitution to remove a claim to the territorial integrity of Ireland (to include N. Ireland) unless and until a majority in N. Ireland chose otherwise. It is not within the gift of the DUP (or the UK government) to play around with its provisions to suit their Brexit agenda.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 05:27:08 PM EST
It never seems to dawn on unionist and conservative UK politicians and commentators that many of their proposals to amend either the Customs Union and Single Market, or the Good Friday Agreement, are in fact amendments to international Treaties, and as such would require a referendum in Ireland to be passed. In the current climate, no Irish government would hold a referendum, never mind endorse a proposal to amend any of those Treaties or the Irish Constitution.  These people need to get real, or at least a minimal appreciation of the fact that there are some things neither the EU or Ireland can possibly entertain. That this is still happening within weeks of the deadline for final agreement speaks volumes of the levels of ignorance that we are dealing with...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 05:49:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The DUP hate the GFA because, enshrined within it, is  poison pill. Should a majority in Ulster indicate in a referendum, that the Westminster govt are obliged to organise if requested, that they wish to leave the Union and join the Republic that this desire will be granted without objection.

Given that Ulster voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU and that Ulster will suffer disproportionately from any brexit solution, the chances are that sentiment to dissolve the Union will quickly gain force.

I cannot see ulster staying with the UK for even a decade after brexit, and probably leaving in 3 - 4 years after no deal.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 06:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 06:54:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK so the vast majority of ET denizens aren't golfers or even belong to a golfing demographic, but in the silly season, there is also this...
Europe stands as one at the Ryder Cup - but what about Brexit?
In an act of spectacular cognitive dissonance, tens of thousands of British fans travelled to France to dress up in blue-and-yellow hats and scarves and scream and roar and sing support for a European team representing a community that, to extrapolate, just under 52 per cent of them had recently voted to get the hell away from. And given the demographics of the average golf club clientele, that estimate is likely to be a couple of clubs short of the green. According to YouGov, the average British golf fan is unusually likely to be a right wing man who has an interest in, among other things, BMWs, business and finance, Jeremy Clarkson and Roy Chubby Brown.

Of course the Ryder Cup team represents Europe rather than the Union, although it so happens that every man who has ever played for the team has come from a full member state. But there's the letter, and then there's the spirit. Which was laid out by Thomas Bjørn in his speech at the opening ceremony. "Europe can at times be a fragmented place, but when it comes to the Ryder Cup it's different, when it comes to the Ryder Cup, Europe stands as one," Bjørn said. "This is the week more than ever that flag represents the boundary of this great continent." Bjørn lives in England and has an English girlfriend. He must have known how it sounded.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 06:30:12 PM EST
I'm no golfer either, but I happen to live not very far from the place where the Ryder Cup took place. During my train commute last week, I've seen a number of spectators, mostly Americans but also a number of Brits. Couldn't really miss them as they spoke loudly across the car, and when seeing a poster of Pamela Anderson on a platform (she's doing some show on French TV), idly speculating about her cup size, as if English is a secret language that nobody else understands. They didn't look much like Bimmers & finance types (although, what do I know?), but definitely Jeremy Clarkson and Roy Chubby Brown.
by Bernard on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 09:01:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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 Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 04:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In one sense Boris is completely correct, the chequers plan is completely stupid and unworkable. Being entirely fantastical, it is impossible to use it even as a starting point for any discussion.

the problem for Boris comes with his next statement: "Do not believe them when they say there is no other plan and no alternative" which, while entirely true, does not include any solution acceptable to the EU as well as Boris and the ultras.

Boris is a wrecker, a man given to grand gestures and spending other people's money as wastefully as possible (his tenure as Mayor wasted billions on his profile-boosting vanity projects). He talks now of glibly building a bridge across the Irish Sea as some sop to Ulster. As if that could solve anything.

Sadly, his destruction of the Tory party as an electoral force is proceeding too slowly to impede brexit.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 06:38:03 PM EST
Sadly for the UK, there is no middle ground on Brexit. You either go for a clean break - either through no deal or a minimal deal plus Canada ++ - as Boris and the ultras prefer, or you go for Remain. Everything else is sub-optimal, if not outright impossible.

The clean break has the political "benefit" of restoring national sovereignty - although in practice under US multi-national hegemony. Canada++ - has many the costs of EU membership and none of the benefits. What is truly delusional is the notion that the EU will break/amend its own treaties in order to facilitate a unique deal for the UK. No one in the EU is advocating that...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 07:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These are relatively intelligent, fairly well-informed people.

Are they truly delusional? Or is this a snow-job?

Selling a facade of a deal to a low information tabloid reading british public while, behind the scenes, laying the groundwork for their Shock-Doctrine predator-bankster low wage, low regulation offshore tax haven. They're asking for the impossible to avoid making any sort of deal cos no deal suits them just fine. They have no regard for the well-being of the country, they're conservatives : To the winner, the spoils

too many of those most closely involved will make too much money from this. They've been boasting about how they're gonna clean up.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 09:03:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Religion is full of relatively intelligent, fairly well-informed people. Who are utterly deluded or pretend to be for the sake of power and position.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 11:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some time ago I linked to a J. W. Mason article that made the very reasonable claim that no economic variable is meaningful without specifying how to measure it. On reflection, that is often also true in hard sciences.
And it certainly is true for intelligence.
by generic on Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 01:47:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some of the countries most sympathetic to the UK's concerns have been the Baltic republics, once part of the Soviet Union and other eastern Europe countries.

Hunt's casual comment didn't go down well in these quarters. Not at all.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, a Lithuanian European commissioner:

Estonia's ambassador to the UK:

Baiba Braže, Latvia's ambassador to the UK:

Former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski‏:

by Bernard on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 09:12:19 PM EST
Of all people ... former British citizen and CIA agent Radek Sikorski wising up? I doubt it, after all Poland needs the likes of UK and US Conservatives in their offensive against Russia and its presence still felt in the former East bloc nations.

The Applebaum and Sikorski Show

by Oui on Tue Oct 2nd, 2018 at 09:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, the Tory party has always been far too ready to be influenced by the GOP and its more sinister paymasters. Scratch any UK conservative thinktank and it will be awash with US seed money and influence.

Even the spokespeople on the BBC for the "Institute of Economic Affairs" and other influential thinktanks are yanks. It's like they don't allow Brits on to speak for the right wing anymore unless they're MPs.

So, sub-Trumpian bollocks from Boris and now Hunt are the only things that resonate with the dingbat membership. Logic, knowledge and history are suspect and subject ot revision if deemed inconvenient. Michael Gove said he was not interested in hearing from experts on various subjects, cos facts. Seems like this was just an admission of actual custom and practice within the Tory party.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 10:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeremy Hunt's comments are particularly unfortunate for the British cause. If the UK has support in the EU27, it is mostly in Ireland and eastern European members who joined the EU at least partly as a means of moving away from Russian hegemony. These, often far right movements, have seen the UK as a proxy for the USA and a bulwark against Russia. It is no accident that many of the more right wing parties in Eastern Europe are allied with the Tories in the European Parliament. For the UK Tories to now denigrate their continued membership of the EU as tantamount to appeasement of of a Soviet style EU is about as insulting as you can get. Expect the negotiating climate to turn particularly frosty in Brussels...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 02:37:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 07:13:09 PM EST
oh god, that so needs troll rating

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 3rd, 2018 at 08:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Her aides had to show her how to do a line before going onstage.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 11:27:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In stark contrast to last year's difficulties, May set the room at ease by jigging on stage to ABBA's "Dancing Queen," a tongue-in-cheek reference to video clips of her dancing on a tour of African countries over the summer.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 11:31:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blame it on the boogie: When politicians try to dance

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 01:19:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Oct 8th, 2018 at 07:45:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it wasn't mockery, it was pity

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 9th, 2018 at 09:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, let's say it slowly and see if we can get it out:  P...M...Boor-ass.  Oh gods, it's still disgusting and depressing.  And the UK are supposed to be the SMART anglophones.
by rifek on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 12:16:58 AM EST
Her speech was cloyingly insincere and entirely lacking in imagination, the disco queen stunt hilariously uncool, and the crowd reaction bizarrely enthusiastic.
Boris never disappoints if taking a wrecking ball to the shreds of the Tory party is your idea of a DaDa art form.
He has one important Machiavellian skill, (the shiv between the shoulderblades), but the other of causing fear if respect and love are unattainable is beyond Boris' thespian capacities, considerable though they are.
Boris is entirely un-scary.
Buffoonery will only get you so far.
What did chill my blood though was the bulldog roar that greeted Boris' cluelessly transparent, disingenuous affirmation of the worst little-Englandist rump of the ship of fools that is the Tory party.  
There was a psychotic edge in this full-throated baying at the Brexit moon, an emotion so passionately, tenaciously, self-destructively stupid as to re-beggar belief!
This is what they meant in the saying: 'Those whom the gods destroy, they first make mad'.
Watching the political high jinks across the pond incites identical reactions.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 10:06:46 AM EST
Twitter thread on Fintan O'Toole's talk explains where this psychosis comes from:

Basically, Britain (England) felt it got a raw deal after fighting / winning in WW2. E.g. the economic miracle happened in Germany of all places. The years into the seventies were not good. That's where the the understandable grudge comes from but also, more dangerously, the self pity that persists to this day. Self-loathing and narcissism are two sides of the same coin. That's why there is the constant barrage of moaning about the UKs lot combined with self aggrandizement from the very same people/papers. Churchill and blabla all the way back to 1066 - the 'Tirrany of Brussels'.

Also see the total paranoia by Brexiteers about being pulled back into the EU (=USSR) while acting as if they are being kicked out when it comes to the benefits. All hail to the victim role. But just you wait. Around the corner is the play to make plucky UK win against the evil empire. Just like the Irish free state did. Remarkably, 'zombie' imperialists can appropriate the pain of a former colony.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 08:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fascinating thread!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 11:28:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant that October is UK Black History Month.

And because UK Black History Month happens to coincide, in the twitter timeline of a history lecturer, with the fall of "Rome", a significant number of post-colonial, Commonwealth characters are promoting books and seminars about the dastardly deeds and decadence of HRM's government in Africa, the Caribbean, and sub-continent --the empire.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Oct 5th, 2018 at 12:49:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fascinating link embedded in the discussion

Britain: The End of a Fantasy

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Oct 5th, 2018 at 04:11:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That government will be weak and unstable and it will have no real authority to negotiate a potentially momentous agreement with the European Union. Brexit is thus far from being a done deal: it can't be done without a reliable partner for the EU to negotiate with. There isn't one now and there may not be one for quite some time--at least until after another election, but quite probably not even then.

Note: the article is dated June 10, 2017 so this may be Old News

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Oct 5th, 2018 at 04:13:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 All hail to the victim role. But just you wait. Around the corner is the play to make plucky UK win against the evil empire.

Yup, Gilbert & Sullivan move over, it's time for the Steptoes.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Oct 6th, 2018 at 12:15:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the economic miracle happened in Germany because they had no delusions of consquence. Britain simply re-started building the same old shit they were building before the war; cars like the austin 7.

Also, the government frittered away colossal sums re-arming our military, building a totally pointless independent nuclear deterrent, complete with our own inter continental ballistic missiles.

Also, we literally smashed our world beating computer technology at the request of the Aemricans, who claimed it would let the Russians know their cyphers were compromised. the fact that it gave IBM, Honeywell etc an open goal was, I'm sure, entirely coincidental.

Meanwhile, the Germans and the Japanese, no longer wanting to have a pointless military machine, re-built their industrial base for a post-war future where they would have to trade their way out of debt. They made their finance and government departments subservient to the needs of trade and well-paid employment.

Thei success in the 70s and beyond was 25 years in the making. British failure was of a similar vintage.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 05:17:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a telling line from Heseltine in a Long Read on the Guardian (which has terrible search, so I couldn't find the link now that it's gone from their front page) saying that perhaps destroying the UK's manufacturing base during the Thatcher years was "unthinking" - in the sense that letting the markets rip without any planning or foresight really wasn't a sophisticated move.

Then, in a nice editorial move further down in the same piece, someone else points out that Brexit is doing the same thing in the same way. Even more subtly - as long as you're paying attention - this is contrasted with Japanese policy, which is supposed to be based on modelling and rational planning.

The editing is curious, but the point is a good one: the UK doesn't do thinking. This has been the core UK problem since the end of WWII - and possibly long before it, although imperial prosperity disguised the rotten core.

The US-imported horror of so-called big government and centralised planning creates an Economy of Stupidity, where ideology, bluster, and posturing become more important than planned rational action.

It isn't just exceptionalism and narcissism, although both play their part. It isn't even the core moral driver of Brexit, which is a juvenile "I'm British and no one tells me what to do."

It's the fact that British mental processes are pre-modern - in fact pre-Enlightenment - at too many social levels, from the vacuous self-interest of the Johnsons and Rees-Moggs down to the shop floor.

There's an educated middle class which is more sophisticated and occasionally shows evidence of being able to model outcomes and make plans. But the rest of the population literally has no idea how to sift fact from fiction, and makes up for it with bluster and self-serving delusion.

So... the EU needs to understand that it is not dealing with a rational country. The UK doesn't do rational in any observable form.

There's plenty of ideology to go around, and a whole lot of posing and angry rhetoric. But there isn't any rational understanding of the problems caused by Brexit, and even less rational ability to plan for solutions.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 12:01:46 PM EST
But there isn't any rational understanding of the problems caused by Brexit

There wasn't much before about problems not caused by Europe, but homegrown. Brexitism is an extension of that.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 04:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Newton Emerson is a unionist commentator from N. Ireland more closely aligned with the anglophile Official Unionist party thinking than with the Paisleyite DUP. Unsympathetic to any notion of a united Ireland, he can nevertheless make some acute observations on the contradictions and difficulties of DUP "thinking".

Foster is rattling around inside a logical trap set by May

Trapped between a hard border and a sea border, DUP leader Arlene Foster has hit out at the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement. This has conceded a key rhetorical point to nationalists despite all the complaints they have made about her remarks. The point is not "I told you so", as expressed in many quarters, over the DUP never supporting the agreement in the first place. The DUP will happily tell you that itself. As far as the party is concerned it fixed the Belfast Agreement with the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, and it was only then, with the text amended, that it climbed aboard.

The nationalist point Foster has conceded is that some forms of Brexit might be incompatible with the agreement, at least to the extent where it would benefit from further alteration.

In a keynote speech in Belfast three months ago, May ruled out a customs border in the Irish Sea as part of the backstop on the grounds it would breach the agreement by threatening the constitutional integrity of the UK and changing the status of Northern Ireland without consent, thereby denying "parity of esteem and just and equal treatment" to the unionist community.

This novel interpretation was seen as such a sop to the DUP that May was accused of letting the party write her script.

But the prime minister also ruled out any land border infrastructure, saying "the seamless border is a foundation stone on which the Belfast Agreement rests. Anything that undermines that is a breach of the spirit of the Belfast Agreement."

Legally, both sections of the speech were nonsense. The agreement makes no mention of the nature of the Border, while the consent principle only applies to a vote for a united Ireland.

However, by matching nationalist nonsense with unionist nonsense, May was boxing everyone in by turning their own arguments against them. Or, as she summed it up herself with a perfectly straight face, any new customs frontier inside the UK "would be a breach of the spirit of the Belfast Agreement, and for exactly the same reason that a hard border would be".

The absurd over-reaction to her [Foster's] remarks, made off-the-cuff in response to a reporter's question, indicates the extent of nationalist paranoia that the DUP is leading the British government by the nose. However, the intemperance of Foster's remarks suggests the opposite - that the DUP knows that the limits of its influence are about to be exposed as the withdrawal agreement deadline nears.

A party that has never really suffered defeat or had to make a major strategic concession is going to find climbing down on something as totemic as a sea border extremely difficult to process.

Legally, Newton is probably correct in asserting that the principal of consent as written in the Good Friday Agreement applies only to a referendum on a United Ireland. But the political reality is that it has come to apply to any major change to the status quo in N. Ireland - it requires the support of both the unionist and nationalist communities.

Thus Brexit is a breach of this principle, as applied to N. Ireland, quite apart from the fact that it was rejected by 56% of the N. Ireland electorate as a whole. May has now conceded that it applies to how any major change in both the sea border with Britain or the land border with Ireland is regulated and policed.

This may have boxed Arlene Foster into a logical trap to some extent, but the larger logical trap is the one in which May finds herself. If any change in the status quo of how either border is policed is a breach of the principle of consent contained in Good Friday agreement, how much greater is the imposition of Brexit itself on N. Ireland, against the wishes of a majority of BOTH communities?

Some reports suggest the UK will propose making any divergence in regulation between N. Ireland and GB subject to N. I. Assembly approval. This could be difficult, given that that assembly may never meet again. But wouldn't it be much more consistent with the principle of consent as contained in the Good Friday Agreement, if any change in the Status of  N. Ireland (i.e. Brexit) was made subject to referendum approval?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 06:37:39 PM EST
Beginning to suspect Brexit will eventually entail NI Unionist paramilitary car bombs going off in Dublin.  Northern Ireland is an economic disaster looking for a patsy to throw money at them economic development monies which the EU may do and the UK almost certainly will not.  Thus their preferred political outcome, to remain with the Brits, is the worst economic outcome.  

And the Republic is conveniently near at hand and the UVF, etc., are already psychologically prepared to carry out the attacks.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Oct 4th, 2018 at 08:29:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The RHI inquiry is on at Belfast Telegraph, and all I'm getting out of it is Peyton Place plausible deniability of forbidden love ...for Arlene.

Sort of like the Kavanaugh hearings.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Oct 5th, 2018 at 12:36:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The silly season seems to go on into October. With Brexit coming up, the press is mostly interested in the wedding of yet another of these royal parasites. The Independent
But some people found the choice to read an excerpt from The Great Gatsby at the royal wedding slightly strange, considering the dark thematic elements of the book and Gatsby's character.

"The choice of The Great Gatsby as a reading at the #royalwedding - a book which is about rich people having affairs and being too rich to care when they mess up other people's lives - astounds and muses me in equal measure #nosenseofirony," one person tweeted.

Surely not as strange as the tendency among commoners to use the  Lohengrin wedding march? At least the royal groom probably told his bride his name ahead of time.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Oct 12th, 2018 at 04:59:51 PM EST
I don't think "irony" means what the tweeter thinks it means.

Even with prefaced by allusion to "dark thematic elements" in the novel.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Oct 13th, 2018 at 12:45:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit divorce agreement collapses after Raab and Barnier meet
A tentative deal on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement reached at technical level in Brussels Sunday collapsed following a meeting between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and his U.K. counterpart Dominic Raab.

An EU diplomat said that Barnier would make a statement about the state of play in the talks Sunday evening after updating EU ambassadors.

Indications that a tentative deal at negotiator level was close, began to emerge mid-afternoon Sunday, when the U.K.'s Department for Exiting the EU released a statement that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab would make an unscheduled trip to Brussels.

"With several big issues still to resolve, including the Northern Ireland backstop, it was jointly agreed that face-to-face talks were necessary ahead of this week's October European Council," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Or have we entered the "Last Minute Brinkmanship" phase?
by Bernard on Sun Oct 14th, 2018 at 06:05:20 PM EST
Yes, we are moving into the final phase now. Theresa May's chance of getting any deal through parliament depend on a majority being convinced that her deal is the best deal possibility and there is no time and no possibility of negotiating a better one.

So the choice will come down to May's deal or no deal. The plan seems to be to delay agreement until Mid-November and force a vote just prior to the Xmas recess. There will then be no time to call a mid-winter general election or referendum.

My best guess is still that May will lose that vote through a combination of DUP and hard Brexiteer opposition. Corbyn will insist on a general election - even though mid-winter elections are against all tradition in the UK. Hard Brexiteers will mount a leadership challenge.

May might even try to come back to the EU Council looking for a better deal. I doubt she will receive a sympathetic response.  She has already reneged on the December "Backstop" deal and there is no guarantee that she can get any deal through parliament.

Logically she should resign and make way for someone like BoJo who will enthusiastically embrace the no-deal scenario, all the time upbraiding the EU for their failure to be "flexible" and agree a deal. He would get an even less sympathetic reception on the EU Council.

In contrast to the UK, the EU will have been making serious preparations of a no deal Brexit. Mini-deals to enable food and medicines to be imported/exported and continued landing rights for UK aircraft may be agreed, but only if the €40 Billion exit payment has been paid, or some sort of "administrative" charges are imposed.

Why should the UK continue to enjoy the benefits of EU membership when it is no longer a member and has welshed on its commitments? It could get really nasty...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 12:36:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Raab is an ultra, he has already suggested that the UK has compromised as much as is possible and it's time for the EU to bend. I'm sure that, when he met Barnier, he re-affirmed that intransigence and Barnier more or less threw him out.

We're at the point now where I doubt there will be a deal to be offered to Parliament. After all, it's one thing to srongarm a position within the Cabinet at Chequers, but it's entirely another to agree even the most basic deal with the EU when the first item on the agenda, the Irish border, has no viable solution given the "red lines" within the Conservative party.

So, we really are looking at no deal. Because these people are either idiots or so entranced by their own personal chances for enrichment they are blind to the consequences for everybody else.

I suspect that within a year of no deal brexit, both Scotland and Ulster will have begun the preparations to leave the UK.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 06:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks like the only Brexit that can pass Parliament is one that has Labour's stamp of approval. May can't possibly get the DUP back on board -- they have effectively bolted already -- and keep remainer (remainder?) Conservatives.

Or could she be saved by the parliamentary Blairites? Please, no.

In any case, any Brexit deal that could be approved by the UE27 and Parliament leaves her without a majority, because the DUP will be in permanent paroxysm.

Or you could have an election. My personal preference, because it would be democratic.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 02:34:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An election may be preferable, but it won't save us now. There just isn't time.

If there is any saving the situation, it will come shold a cross-party coalition emerge to vote through a soft brexit, probably including staying within the customs union, simply to save the nation.

This would pass, but they'd have to call an election immediately after to prevent May being displaced by an ultra and changing everything.

Of course, such an action would not just end Theresa May's stay in 10 Downing St, it may well initiate a split in the Tory party from which they cannot recover.

that said, I don't think May could bring herself to do it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 05:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I can tell it's always been about the Tory Party for May and the rest of the UK can go fuck itself.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 10:06:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the start of this silliness the Leavers have been totally & completely wrong about the actual state-of-play.  The Leavers thought they could state their terms, stick to them, and the EU would ultimately agree.  This, in part, stems from the fact Brits never fully understood the fundamental and underlying political nature of the EU.  For the Brits it was always about making money.  Which is why the Leavers keep harping about things economic and why they think the EU will cave.

Fundamentally, Anglo-Americans are grotesquely ignorant of how the rest of the world ticks but don't know they are grotesquely ignorant.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 10:19:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bingo, you nailed it.
A nation of shopkeepers. The ignorance, as you aver, is blinding.
The business of America is business, Brexit is brexit.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 11:43:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Polly Toynbee - Feel no pity for Theresa May - this Brexit bind is of her own making

Feel no pity for May. At first she seemed plausible as the least incapable pair of hands on offer. But she threw away every chance to escape this Brexit dead-end by turning to her extreme wing. In the more than 18 excruciating months since she recklessly triggered article 50 with no plan, nothing has changed. The Brexit conundrum remains where it began, except she has made it far worse. There stands the same giant boulder in the road that is Northern Ireland's borders. All she has contributed is mutually contradictory "red lines" that made any solution impossible. Frictionless trade, with no adjudication by the European court of justice, with no customs union, no single market and no hard border in Ireland: this was not any old cake-and-eat-it but a bankrupted Patisserie Valerie confection. And there she has stayed.

Patisserie Valeire is a high street french cake shop chain in the UK that went bankrupt almost overnight with little or no warning. The CEO was a Tory contributor who loudly preached the gospel of entrepreneuralism and the necessity of understanding cashflows in your business from his pulpit in the Times. I think Polly was intending some irony, but many would not know of the CEO's fiscal sanctimonious bullshit.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 16th, 2018 at 01:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plan B is as bug-house as anything May has proposed.  

Some weird and undefined "five year transition period?"  Why the devil would the EU go for that?  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Oct 17th, 2018 at 03:38:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
@BorderIrish on Twitter :

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Oct 15th, 2018 at 03:39:12 PM EST

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