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BMW = Brexit Made Wonderful

by Frank Schnittger Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 05:09:38 PM EST

Fintan O'Toole has an interesting take on why the Brexiteers think they can ultimately force the EU to give the UK what it wants in the Brexit deal:

Marxism is alive and well in British politics. The irony, though, is that its strongest influence is not in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party. It is on the Tory right. Perhaps the oddest thing about the Brexit zealots - though there is a great deal of competition for this title - is that they cling to a particularly crude form of Marxist economic determinism.

Their whole project is predicated on the belief that a cabal of capitalist bosses can issue orders that the entire European Union would rush to obey. The all-powerful clique in question is made up of the principal shareholders of Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Opel, Porsche and Mercedes.

It would be hard to overstate just how large these German industrialists have loomed in the consciousness of the Brexiteers and their media cheerleaders. They were to be Britain's saviours. It was they who would ensure that the EU would be forced to give Britain all the benefits of the single market and the customs union even after it departed from both. It was they who would provide the lubrication for the zipless, frictionless Brexit of the Leavers' dreams.

Of course not all economic determinism is Marxist. The Realpolitik school of foreign policy analysis often defines the interests of state actors in economic terms. And of course you can define politics in terms of class war and be on the side of the ruling as opposed to working classes. But the Tory Brexiteers were in no doubt as to how the world worked:

The chain of reasoning began with a factual proposition: the Germans sell a hell of a lot of cars to the UK. The next link in the chain is rational: therefore, the German car manufacturers would not want any tariff barriers to be created after Brexit. And then, in the way of magical thinking, there is the great leap.

Seeing their interests threatened, Frau Mercedes and Herr Audi would lift the phone to Angela Merkel. "Merkel!" they would bark. "There must be no tariff barriers. We will not allow it!"

The chancellor in turn would call Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk: "The British must have their cake and eat it. Understood?" "Yes, Ma'am!" Hence, BMW stands for Brexit Made Wonderful.


Even as the Brexit project retreats ever further into chaos and absurdity, this fantasy survives. Pro-Brexit papers continue to run headlines like the Daily Express's "Merkel's Brexit NIGHTMARE: 18,000 German car firm jobs at risk." The Sun reports on the "pleas from German car manufacturers, led by BMW, builders of Britain's electric Mini, for Brussels to stop punishing Britain".

This in spite of the explicit statements from those same German car bosses that the integrity of the single market matters much more to them than the disruption of their trade with Britain.

There are many ironies in all of this, not least the reliance on Germans to save an English nationalist project and the fact that most Marxists (including Marx) have long since abandoned this very crude idea of how economic interests translate into political actions. But the greatest irony of all is that Brexit itself is a particularly powerful example of how political sentiment can outweigh economic self-interest.

It has long been my view that the UK government regards the formal Brussels based Brexit negotiations with the EU Commission as little more than window dressing. The REAL DEAL was always going to be done behind the scenes by the UK Prime Minister and Angela Merkel, anxious to preserve Germany's trade surplus with the UK. I suspect the UK fully expects the Brussels talks to break down, at which point the Prime Ministers of the countries which REALLY MATTER would ride in to the rescue with a "sensible deal" more to the liking of the captains of Capitalism.

And the reason the Brexiteers think this is that that is more or less the way things work in the UK. Rupert Murdoch once gave the game away as told by Anthony Hilton: "I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. `That's easy,' he replied. `When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.'"

So when Boris Johnson et al talk about "TAKING BACK CONTROL", they mean that it is they and their primary sponsors and funders who want to take back control from the EU. The people of central and northern England who voted for Brexit in large numbers were never going to gain any more power over their lives: they were but pawns in a power struggle between competing elites in British political and economic life. Brexiteers fondly imagined that all they had to do was make a deal with German Capitalists, as they do in the UK, and the EU would have no option but to rubber stamp the deal.

Even after a year of negotiations in Brussels which have basically gotten nowhere in terms of realising the Brexiteers' dream of "having cake and eating it" their fantasies persist. I recently had a conversation with a Remain voter, now a convinced Brexiteer, who made the following arguments:

1. The German's won't want to lose their trade surplus to the UK and will force the EU to agree a deal

2. Many in Europe are also unhappy with the EU and will soon follow the UK's lead

3. Britons are prepared to accept some short-term economic pain if it means greater economic growth and political freedom in the long run

4. Longer term the UK economy will grow much more rapidly outside the EU because more of its exports go to non-EU countries, and these are growing more rapidly than its exports to the EU.

5. The "experts" got it all wrong when they predicted economic collapse after the referendum vote and many other experts see a much brighter future for the UK outside the EU

6. The EU will still want the UK's cooperation and support on matters like defence and security and thus will be forced to agree a close relationship on other matters of common interest.

7. The EU is basically a failing, undemocratic, bureaucracy and the UK is ahead of the curve in getting out.

8. The UK will never allow a border in "the Irish sea" as the Irish government and EU are suggesting.


I made the following points in response:

1. The UK makes up 4% of EU exports, while 40% of UK exports go to the EU. The impact of any tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade will therefore be an order of magnitude greater for the UK than the EU.

2. Opinion polling in the EU actually shows an upswing in support for EU membership and parties advocating withdrawal from the EU have not performed well in recent elections. In Ireland, support for the EU is at an all time high, despite the fact that the impact of Brexit will be greatest there.

3. All the economic models predict that the impact of Brexit will be slow, incremental, and cumulatively very negative for UK economic growth in the longer term.

4. There is nothing to prevent the UK increasing its exports to non-EU countries now, while still a member of the EU, and in fact the EU has been actively concluding relatively advantageous FTAs with all our major trading partners. The EU has far greater leverage in such negotiations than the UK would have on its own and a much more experienced trade negotiating team.

5. The "experts" are virtually unanimous in predicting reduced economic growth for the UK in the longer term, and the UK economic growth has already slowed considerably compared to its peers in the EU and elsewhere. And this is before Brexit has even happened.

6. I, for one, will be very happy when the UK's influence on the EU's foreign and security policies is much reduced. We do not want to be dragged into another Iraq war by Tony Blair and his like.

7. It is a rich irony that it is the UK which accuses the EU of lacking in democracy when the UK is the only EU country with an entirely unelected House of parliament and an entirely antiquated single seat FPTP voting system which ensures that smaller parties are often grossly under-represented and where voting in many constituencies is pointless as the result is a foregone conclusion. The "Brussels bureaucracy" is smaller than the Derbyshire County Council staff and is no more unelected than the Whitehall civil service.

The UK will soon see the flip side of how democratic the EU is when any deal they negotiate requires the unanimous consent of 27 members, the EU Parliament and some regional parliaments. If the deal includes any elements not already ceded to EU decision making it will require a referendum in countries like Ireland to be passed. In reality, when Brexiteers criticise the EU for lack of democracy, what they mean is that the EU fails to do what they wants it to do. Unlike the British Empire, the UK does not rule the roost.

8. The UK will have to allow N. Ireland to remain in the Single Market and Customs union if it cannot devise another way of avoiding a requirement for customs controls at the Irish border. The UK has already given its word on this issue in order to conclude phase 1 of the Brexit talks, and Ireland and the EU will not agree to any final Brexit deal that requires customs controls at the border.


Naturally the argument got nowhere with both sides accusing the other of getting their facts wrong. Overall the Brexiteer position can be summed up as "the EU needs the UK as much as the UK needs the EU and therefore they have no option but to agree a deal in the interests of both parties." I've been studying politics a long time, and if there is one conclusion I have come to it is that nothing is inevitable and if things can go wrong, they often will. It is still possible for the EU and UK to reach an amicable settlement which mitigates the damage caused by Brexit but it is by no means certain that they will.

Indeed if my recent conversation is anything to go by there will be no substantial Brexit deal. Both parties are simply living in a different universe. For a negotiation to succeed you need common interests, competence, goodwill and trust. In my view the last three are sorely lacking and not showing any signs of improving. I see no reason to change my prediction, made shortly after the referendum, that a very hard Brexit with no substantial deal was the most likely outcome followed by a prolonged period of deteriorating relationships. A post Brexit FTA could take decades to negotiate and ratify.

The EU was founded to secure and preserve peace in Europe after many centuries of war including two world wars. It has been an extraordinary success in doing so. It has secured democracy in Spain, Portugal, and Greece and straddled the Iron Curtain divide. Attempts by Brexiteers to breakup the EU and restore the previous system of rivalry between the Great Powers which resulted in almost continuous war must be resisted at all costs. Continued European peace depends on the Brexiteer project of dismantling the EU being roundly defeated.

The UK will have to allow N. Ireland to remain in the Single Market and Customs union if it cannot devise another way of avoiding a requirement for customs controls at the Irish border. Ireland and the EU will not agree to a Brexit deal that requires one.

The DUP cannot allow Northern Ireland to have an economic border - call it - with the rest of the UK.  It violates everything they stand for.  The Tory government depends on the DUP.  Thus another input on the Tory government's trajectory to the hardest of hard exits.

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

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 06:54:13 PM EST
The current DUP dependent government is incapable of achieving any Brexit deal acceptable to the EU, and even if it could, it is doubtful whether there is a majority in the present Parliament to ratify it. Thus another general election is required IF there is to be a Brexit deal and I am not convinced Corbyn would necessarily win it.

It is also doubtful whether the Theresa May would call another general election under any circumstances prior to Brexit day (bar losing a vote of confidence) even if this means a no-deal Brexit. My default assumption is still therefore a hard Brexit with no substantial deal.

And if there is a no-deal Brexit I would expect the EU to raise tariffs on UK exports to recover monies due to EU Budget. If the UK retaliates a trade war may result.

Either way, it could be decades before a FTA is negotiated given that, after Brexit, any FTA requires unanimous approval of all 27 EU members plus some regional parliaments... a fitting legacy of the UK push to expand the Union rapidly without governance reform in order to dilute its decision making capability.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 07:43:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it is entirely possible that brexit will be driven by Labour supported by remain supporting tories.

The recent acceptance by Labour of the desirability of remaining in the Customs Union is a good first step and has been warmly welcomed by remainers of all parties.

It has been pointed out that this step alone does not solve the Ulster border problem but, being a considerable step in the right direction, shows that Labour are now making the realistic steps in the brexit debate. The advantage they have is that the remain vote (even when working towards the softest of brexits) is a DUP-proof majority in Westminster.

It won't be the brexit of the brextremist wet dreams, it's probably not even the brexit Corbyn hiself imagined in the aftermath of the referendum, but it will be a brexit that works.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 08:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see how Corbyn can drive the Brexit process even if there is a soft Brexit majority in Parliament without actually becoming PM. It is the government which negotiates with Brussels and Theresa May cannot do anything which antagonises the DUP and the "European Research Group" within her own party.

She will lose either a vote of confidence or her premiership if she does, and we end up with a general election or a change of leader to Boris or Rees-Mogg. I suppose it is possible she could survive a leadership challenge but her authority is already so damaged I doubt she could survive (say) doing badly in the local elections as well.

If the Tories want to avoid a general election at all costs they just have to sit tight until April 1 2019 and Brexit will be a fait accompli, deal or no deal. After that their focus on "Making a success of Brexit" will be the only game in town...  Until its failure becomes apparent to even the most dim-witted.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 09:03:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not that he drives it, but puts up amendments that are voted through.

These do not automatically trigger the collapse of the Tories as a government because the change to the "no confidence" rules  means that they can limp on, losing significant vote after significant vote without damaging their (legal) right to govern.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 09:33:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and Corbyn is gonna walk the next election. The solid recognition of that reality conditions every decision the brexiteers make when they consider holding May to ransom.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 08:38:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Labour and the Tories are currently neck and neck in the polls and that is despite the most incompetent and divided government in living memory being in office.

I think the result will hinge on the circumstances under which the election is held. Suppose May reaches a Brexit deal with the EU which upsets the DUP and loses a vote in the House of Commons because it doesn't satisfy either the Remainers, the opposition, the DUP or the hard core Brexiteers - in my view a likely scenario.

May goes to the country with "the best deal available" and poo poos Corbyn's "pie in the sky" claims to be able to negotiate a better one - particularly if B day is only weeks away.  She claims to occupy the centre ground between hard core Remainers and Brexiteers.

The electorate are faced with a choice between voting for a deal they may not like and a deal which doesn't exist. Why would the EU give Corbyn a better deal? - he is hardly liked in any EU capital...

So the sensible British voter will be cajoled into voting for the sensible middle ground, despite the fact that what is on offer is far inferior to the benefits of full membership.

Lot's of other scenarios are possible, but that seems to me to be (marginally) the most likely one.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 09:18:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe the polls were similarly pessimistic about his chances before the last election.

Which suggests to me that, rather than Corbyn has no chance, the polls aren't capturing a significant part of the Corbyn electorate.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 09:30:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if true, the polls can't capture what may be a nationalist hysteria by the time the elections are called. Of course there is a strong chance Corbyn will win, but the polls are of limited predictive value in the absence of the precise context of the election.

My own view is that it will take several years for the disastrous reality of Brexit to become clear to the British electorate, and then only after the nationalist fever has subsided. By that time it will be far to late for Corbyn or his successor to do anything much about it, bar negotiating a Canada style FTA.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 09:42:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which suggests to me that, rather than Corbyn has no chance, the polls aren't capturing a significant part of the Corbyn electorate.

Or the Corbyn people are just really good at running a campaign. And why not? The gaggle of international consultants that usually run campaigns as a paid service don't seem to be doing so well since the glory days of Boris Yeltsin. Most people are only very weakly connected to the political system. In the earlier days said consultants and the media conglomerates could herd them to the polls, get them to make a cross and then fuck off for a few years. How would they react to a genuinely enthusiastic campaign?

by generic on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 12:18:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly Theresa May showed herself to be an astonishingly bad campaigner... and Labour have a massive active membership advantage now to canvass and get their people to the polls.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 12:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's half a million people, many of them willing and able to be active campaigners as they've only recently joined and feel the energy is going their way. Or, to put it another way, 1 in 80 voters is willing to go out and be an active campaigner for the Labour party.

As compared to an estimated Tory membership in the region of 70,000, most of whom are elderly, so let's call it an active membership of 50,000. Or 1 in 800 of the electorate.

That is a significant advantage. That's people going out knocking on doors talking to people. People with the right messages and answers, people with literature putting it through doors.

All the bullshit in the media can't compete with actually meeting people. And that has a snowball effect of energising campaigns and electors notice. they see the signs, they see who is on the streets, they want to buy into winners.

At the last election one of the things that most impressed a lot of Corbynites was the willingness of momentum to help even Corbyn's most intractable Westminster foes. Nobody got left behind, every vote counted.

Polls don't mean shit when your ground game overwhelms

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 02:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's quite astonishing, how much of our society seems to be set up to keep Democracy from actually happening. In popular culture, getting involved in politics as a "civilian" risks making you THAT GUY at the Christmas party. Better leave it to the professionals.
by generic on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 04:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Polls don't mean shit when your ground game overwhelms

That's what the Democrats (and I) thought in the US general election. Trump had virtually no ground game in many states - including swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida. (Unless you count evangelical churches and the NRA as the GOP ground game)

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 04:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But didn't Clinton's ground game be less effective in reality than on paper? As in not actually being that good at getting boots on the ground. I think I saw complaints from activists.

And on the other side, I think the Trump campaign didn't need to put as many people out there, because the GOP did much more as a party than the Demcrats. And of course, GOP does voter suppression too.

by fjallstrom on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 05:41:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a specialist subject and I am relying on only a few sources - Booman, 538, Politico etc. but certainly the expectation before the election was that the Dems had a far superior ground game, were putting far more money into it, had better voter intelligence systems and more volunteers. Trump seemed to rely more on TV advertising and spent surprisingly little - especially of his own money.

I think the key factor may have been a lack of voter and activist enthusiasm for Hillary combined with over-confidence and complacency: who in their right minds thought Trump was going to win Pennsylvania? Booman didn't, and it's his home state.

In subsequent analysis it emerged that the key factor was that Hillary did far worse than Obama in rural and Red districts, and her advantage in urban and suburban areas wasn't enough to make up the deficit. Booman's expectation had been that she would do much better than Obama in Red districts because of the absence of the anti-Obama racist factor. She also did less well than expected with minorities despite Trump's overt racism.

For me the key message seemed to be that being less bad than your opponent is not a winning strategy. Trump brought out his base. Hillary didn't, or at least not to the same extent. Triangulation has its costs...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 06:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Analysis: Do Campaigns Matter?

Here's what Clinton, Trump spent to turn out votes | CNBC |

Analysis: Do Campaigns Matter?

Personally my view is the effort put in by Trump's Texas troll factory of bots made the difference. Thanking Robert Mercer and his Cambridge Analytica. [Brexit too]

Unless one trusts Hillary Clinton's RESIST movement, pointing fingers to Putin's Russia. A budget of $4 million in ads from ISA in St. Petersburg did the trick? Hardly!

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 07:54:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by state, 21 Oct - 7 Nov, 2016 alone

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 12:19:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spending and the ground game do not necessarily turn out voters. IMO Clinton created her own head wind by her dismissive attitude towards the still largest ethnic group in the nation. She virtually wrote off all but the well educated, epitomized by her 'basket of deplorables' remark, but far from limited to it. I think her campaign was biased against even trying to compete for the working people because they thought they could win without them and didn't want to owe them anything. That was less offensive to the wealthy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 08:08:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that was the expectation, and by offices Clinton's campaign was far ahead of Trump's, though not as far ahead of Trump+GOP. But in the end, Clinton's campaign appears to not have used their advantage to get out the base, but rather spent to much time chasing moderate Republicans.

Here's one article from the Jacobin - https:/www.jacobinmag.com/2016/11/clinton-campaign-gotv-unions-voters-rust-belt - claiming among other things that lack of on the ground knowledge led the Clinton campaign to turn out Trump voters.

And while Trump's lack of organisation was saved by the GOP, the Democrats as a party appears dead in large parts of the interior, partly from lack of organisation, partly from loss of offices during Obama. And Clinton's campaign added to that by using state parties as vehicles to increase donations to the campaign rather than raising money for the state parties. So the party couldn't save her.

by fjallstrom on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 11:09:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump won because he is/was a maverick, coming into politics sideways from a billionaire's podium, a la Berlusconi.
His notoriety as a crook made him media red meat, they gobbled up every gaffe and vomited it back repeatedly creating a vortex and regaling him with millions of dollars free publicity. Hillary could not compete on this level at all, she was recycled old news. Old policies, reconstituted pablum, b-o-r-i-n-g.
She thought the answer was to buy fancier pantsuits and widen that rictus leer of delusional superiority.
Her femininity was supposed to be a big voter plus, but the bloodlust she showed around the manner of Ghaddaffi's dying revealed a level of sadism that  couldn't be unseen, not exactly the kinder, gentler leader many would have affirmed her as, purely on her gender.
She placed herself right in the Madeline Albright hag-bag, hobnobbing with Kissinger just in case anyone had any illusions by then as to her true nature.
Her lust for war with Libya made her a whitebread Condoleeza on steroids.
The Republicans were on the ropes, all their candidates had the charisma of cold mashed potatoes, so when Trump showed up with his base of aggrieved, angry voters eager to see their reality show superhero drain the swamp -as if!- the Party saw voters and grabbed with both hands onto his coattails.

Similarly again to Berlusconi, people thought riches symbolised a crude wisdom that politicians were too poor and savvy-deficient to understand, and if politics was really all about money then why not get a successful businessman to run the country like a corporation?
Straight-shootin', tuff-talking, the frisson of bad boy behaviour to grab ledes and shout soundbites.
Isn't he awful? Tut-Tut.
What did he do today? Oh how shocking!
The more he hated on the media the more they lapped up their profitable punishment, like johns with their dominatrix.
Whip me! I love it! Harder? Yes! Talk dirty to me! OK you asked for it!
Gimme scandal, abuse, and alt-facts, gimme wannabe fascists, give me peace with Putin, give me Mexican walls, give me Hillary behind bars!
And so we got to know his temperament, slalom mood swings, rabid tweet-olalia, the sneering superiority failing to cover up the cry-for-help insecurity that boastful bragadocio was always really about. He defied credulity, our cosy myths about normality shattering as we watched his trajectory dominate the narrative.
Love me, fear me, but never forget me.
We watched his high wire act with sanity like passers-by watch a train wreck, rubbernecking at his antics, marvelling at how a man so clueless about anything could have the epic hubris to want to be POTUS.
No way, can't happen, surely...
Yes way. We looked into the abyss with GWB, now with Trump the abyss is staring back -hard- at us.
The swamp is deeper than ever, the sheepskin off the wolf as we ponder what mayhem he can conjure before he self-combusts, and how many he will take with him when he does.
Bang or whimper? Time'll tell. (Bigly).  

'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 Mar 3rd, 2018 at 11:16:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
British rail is nationalised all over again - by foreign states
At Romford station, in the Essex centre of "taking back control", there's a choice of trains into London: those run by the Dutch, or those run by the Chinese. Anyone heading for nearby Basildon has to change at Upminster and pay a fare to the Italian firm that has been operating C2C since January [2017].

Welsh railways fell to German-owned Arriva long ago, while ScotRail is also in the hands of the Netherlands' Abellio. The French, as part of Govia, own much of Britain's biggest commuter franchises, including Southern Rail. Still, the news last week that South West Trains - serving destinations such as Weymouth and Windsor from Waterloo - would from August be operated by First MTR, partly owned by the Hong Kong government, marked a tipping point in Britain's rail franchising.

[...] "It is savagely ironic that the Tories say they don't believe in state control, yet are perfectly happy to allow Britain's train companies to be run by state-owned railways - as long as it's another state!"

by das monde on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 07:16:13 PM EST
it is especially galling given how franchise after franchise keep failing, only to be returned to profit once they are (temporarily) returned to state control before being parceled up again for some parasite to bleed it to death (looking at you, Richard Branson)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 08:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait a moment. The German car manufacturers don't seem even to be able to stop German cities from banning their cars, and they are somehow able to force the government to force through a Brexit deal?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 07:51:27 PM EST
According to Boris Johnson Italian Prosecco producers and French cheese producers were supposed to add to the pressure. :)
By influencing their governments.
by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 01:45:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to British myth Italian Prosecco producers and French cheese producers resent having to send their best produce to the UK to people unable to appreciate their wares. Most are said to keep their best produce for themselves and their home market. If this is true, far from Pressurising their governments to allow them to sell more, they will be relieved that they can focus on enjoying their work without having to put up with the marketing spin of City types... I jest

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 04:07:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who needs future Brexit import duties when German car manufacturers have to worry about immediate Trumpian taxes?

Donald Trump threatens tax on European cars in tariff row - DW

Donald Trump has pledged to tax European-made cars if the EU were to retaliate against upcoming US tariffs on steel and aluminum. On Friday, the EU said it was preparing tariffs of its own to counter the Trump-proposed hike, which is set to go into effect next week.

On Saturday, the president decried the trade imbalance with the EU and threatened to "simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the US [sic]."

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 11:28:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EC Draft Withdrawal Agreement (pdf)

How to read the draft Brexit treaty - BBC

It's the first draft of history

This document turns the political pledges made by both sides in December when the prime minister made an early-morning trip to Brussels into the kind of water-tight legal language found in a typical EU treaty. So it is not going to be light reading. But it is historically significant because it will eventually become the document that seals the UK's departure from the EU.

This is Barnier's version

It has been prepared by the European Commission's Task Force 50, led by chief negotiator Michel Barnier. The 27 remaining EU countries have the right to make changes but Mr Barnier has been working within a framework set by them so it should reflect what they want. Commission officials say they just wanted to get a move on and get some text on the table.

Read the Ireland section carefully

Three possible options have been agreed for preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Option A is a future relationship between the UK and the EU that avoids the need for a border. Option B is that unique solutions - like technology - are found to solve the issue. Option C is that Northern Ireland remains aligned with EU rules in a number of areas.

C is the one that gets most attention in the text but the EU has bent over backwards to say that the other two options are still viable... as long as the UK provides more information about them.

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 08:46:23 PM EST
Uh-oh. The Brexiteers should be panicking right now.

It is always a really bad sign when you're negotiating a deal based on the other guy's boilerplate. No matter how much they bend over backwards to be accommodating to your demands, the fact that you are operating on their boiler rather than your own or a consensus document means that they outstrip you in either power or expertise (or, more usually, both).

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 06:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But then they would have to prepare a boilerplate. Sounds like work.

It's been obvious for some time that the UK governments incompetence and unwillingness to pull up their sleeves means that the EU will write the exit agreement and a trade agreement and the UK will at most negotiate some details. Or the UK won't have any agreement with the EU.

by fjallstrom on Sat Mar 24th, 2018 at 11:38:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Things are getting pretty tense, but it was pretty predictable.


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 09:40:56 PM EST
Bloomberg email
Liam Fox's former trade adviser, Martin Donnelly, made headlines on Tuesday when he pre-empted a speech by his former boss by saying that leaving the EU's customs union and single market for the promise of future trade deals elsewhere is like giving up a three-course meal "for the promise of a packet of crisps in the future."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 at 10:25:36 PM EST
Liam Fox is, like David Davis, a Dunning-Kruger politician.

Which is perhaps excusable. Being stupid means you don't understand the consequences of the mess you make. But Gove and johnston don't have that excuse.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 02:38:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
h/t Jakob Stenfalk

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 at 04:50:50 PM EST
Oh gods, mate in one.
by rifek on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 02:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, Fintan, he does have a way of laying it all out.  I figure the Brexiteers break into two groups: 1) the hypocrites like Murdoch who are just making a brutal power play, and 2) the folks who have been left out of all the "economic progress" of the last quarter century and who were desperately hoping this would somehow improve their lot.  Same sort of arrangement we saw here in the US in the Trump election.  And in both the US and the UK, the Group 2 members keep on believing even though it's obvious Group 1 will leave them with nothing but handfuls of hot air.  Eat enough peyote, you can believe anything; unfortunately, you also end up vomiting for a long time.
by rifek on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 02:30:07 AM EST
Please let's not be slagging sacred plants (and the consciousness they reveal) in a fookin Brexit discussion...

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 11:09:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are also lots of Brexit true believers who are quite successful in their own lives and who believe that Britain can do much better outside the EU which they see as an artificial, bureaucratic, quagmire run by Mandarins with no democratic accountability our sensitivity to "British" feelings.

It is certainly true that most Brits never bought into the EU ideals of "ever closer union" etc. and saw Europe primarily as an opportunity for trade and a holiday destination. There has been no emotional attachment as in some other countries. No sense that the EU has been instrumental in maintaining peace.

They are literally living in a different world which is why their has been no meeting of minds between EU and UK negotiators, and little enough between Brexiteers and Remainers within the UK. Only time will tell whether there is an truth in their thesis, but for the moment they are living in a world of different facts.

See, for example...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 12:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is certainly true that most Brits never bought into the EU ideals of "ever closer union" etc.

Citation needed.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 12:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you read the link I cited? for example

What the Barnier line illustrates once again is the incompatibility of Britain and the EU. The EU is at root a relentless network of treaties and legal codes, geared towards integration and perhaps federation. The British governing system has evolved differently; it is a workable fudge that hardly makes sense at all.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 04:15:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The British governing system has evolved differently; it is an un workable fudge that hardly makes no sense at all.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 04:29:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't try to fix it for me. Fix it for the Brexiteers who live in a parallel universe...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 04:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and the first reviews of Theresa's speech are in;-

New Statesman - Stephen bush - Theresa May makes a sensible case for a soft Brexit

I always enjoy the beginning of Theresa May's speeches: the analysis of the problem is always lucid, crisp, and well expressed. The difficulties usually emerge in the second half, when the solutions tend to either be leftovers from Ed Miliband's manifesto or some half-baked reckons from the comments underneath a Mail article.
All in all, though, it was the Prime Minister's best speech on the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom since her excellent speech on why we were better off in the EU on 26 April 2016. The difficulty is it was hard not to come to the same conclusion.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 2nd, 2018 at 05:49:54 PM EST
The EU is less impressed:

May 'double cherry-picking' on Brexit, says leaked EU report - Guardian

It called the tone "positive and measured" with an "explicit recognition of (some of) the negative impacts" of Brexit, but also:

  •    Claimed that May was overly inward looking, saying: "She is trying to keep the unity in her cabinet, which could so far only agree on `divergence from the EU unless the UK does not want to diverge'. Her speech was more a domestic communication battle than proposing real substance and ways forward."
  •    Described the model she wanted as "double cherry-picking: taking in selective elements of EU membership and of third country trade agreements".
  •    Said there was "no solution" proposed for the Irish border, criticising what it called the "mutually contradictory UK objectives" of no single market or customs union, no hard border in Ireland and no border down the Irish Sea.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 09:17:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, sometimes you just want to bang their heads together. (Actually I'd like to do it a lot, but...)

This whole saga is about the attempt to maintain, well, it's not a peace, it's not even a ceasefire, just a recognition that actually discussing the politics of brexit is likely to lead to Mutually Assured Destruction. It's like one of those pubs with a sign "please do not discuss politics" hanging over the bar.

So, they don't, they just quietly indulge each other's fantasies without ever noting that there is not just a massive contradiction between them both, but there is a huge gulf between either of their positions and any possible reality we'll have to live with a year from now.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 10:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit warning from US senator who brokered Northern Ireland peace - Guardian
The former American senator who brokered peace in Northern Ireland has warned there could be "serious trouble ahead" if border checks were reinstated because of Brexit.

George Mitchell, who worked with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern to strike the peace deal in 1998, said he did not think a return to violence was inevitable in the region. But he said "the risk is high enough" for politicians to take action before any "regressive" forces in society resurge. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the greater danger was the "change in attitude" between communities that had been in conflict or had lived with physical or social barriers in the past.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2018 at 09:33:48 PM EST
Frank, how did your former Remain now Brexiter colleague (friend?) respond to your counter arguments? Did any of his views change?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 12:24:39 PM EST
He is a friend of a friend and a successful lawyer who has just retired. I think he was a bit surprised by the force of my counter arguments because I suspect most of his socialising is either with fellow Brexiteers or with non-political types who avoid the subject if at all possible.

I think he acknowledged there was some merit in my arguments, but it didn't take away from his fundamental point that the UK was never happy within the EU and that the practical realities of economics would force the EU to make concessions to the UK in the Brexit negotiations in due course.

At a subsequent meeting his main argument was that sometimes people (and in this case, a whole nation) have to shaken out of their comfort zone and embrace new challenges.  The UK has often been a pioneer and innovator in the past and perhaps Brexit was an opportunity to do so again.

I tried to point out that there was nothing to prevent the UK being innovative and pioneering within the EU in any case, but I think he felt that the greater opportunities lay elsewhere.

I think we can underestimate the emotional attachment people have to their countries and institutions and their political choices are often not about economics or what we might regard as realpolitik. His view is that rightly or wrongly, the UK has made a democratic decision and now people should accept that reality and get on with the job of making it a success. There might be problems in the short and medium term, but he was confident the UK would muddle through in the end. As the world's 5th. largest economy, the UK must be doing something right.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 03:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
your friend is well-educated but desperately unknowing of what makes this country such a "success". The 5th largest economy in the world is mostly within the City. "Earned" from the usury and parasitism of the banksters there living high on the hog from european money laundering.

Once we're out of the EU, that trade will go to Dublin, Luxembourg and Frankfurt. Russian oligarchs will no longer find us so attractive to clean their money now we cannot provide them with euros and we'll be scrabbling in the gutter for the pennies they drop.

The rest of the ocuntry ain't worth a ppot worth of piss. Not that the brextrimists give a damn. Low regulation, low wage offshore tax haven is their objective

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 03:52:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some years ago I read a book of short stories by various authors trying to imagine what life would have been like in Britain/USA had Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won the war. The stories generally depicted a dystopia of corruption, arbitrary authority, violence, a resistance movement and a peculiarly arrested technological landscape where much less invention, innovation and freedom reigned.

The lead characters were mostly focused on personal survival and torn between collaboration and subversion. The BBC ran a similar series not so long ago, whose name I cannot remember. In their more fevered moments this may be how radical Brexiteers see EU rule in Britain. In my more fevered moments this is the sort of society I imagine the more extreme Brexiteers creating - suspicious of outsiders, seeing traitors at every turn, determined to concentrate power in their own hands, and maintaining "order" via a police state.

General economic well-being is not the issue, gaining and holding on to power is. A faint echo of a reversal of roles, with the UK becoming the fascist enfant terrible of Europe. And then I wake up and realise it was all a bad dream. Wasn't it?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 09:03:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the programme was an adaptation of Len Deighton's SS-GB

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 08:49:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes - I quite enjoyed the few episodes I saw...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a sliver of hope that brexadversity will pull out some pluck from the reserves in the national character, not a radiantly optimistic belief, but a Blitz mentality, backs to the wall etc.
I guess you never know until/unless it happens.

'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 Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 06:13:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, but an "us against the world" mentality depends on having a bogeyman figure who is a really nasty bad guy out to do Britain Harm. Thus the EU is run by GERMANS and bureaucrats who want to punish Britain and do the plucky Brits down. Brexiteers are always on the look out for traitors and back-sliders. Psychologically, it doesn't really work so well otherwise - Brits would have to admit they are largely at fault for their own troubles..,

The other fly in this psychological ointment is Ireland.  My friend's friend acknowledged the UK were putting Ireland in an awkward position and that the border issue was a real problem. The ideal solution would be for Ireland to rejoin the UK/Commonwealth outside the EU but he acknowledged that looked unlikely. But Ireland as part of the EU makes it more difficult to cast the EU in the bogeyman role. You need to posit that Ireland is really being run by Germany now.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 08:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would definitely conform to a pattern, sure. It worked for the Breferendum after all.
What I am envisioning would be more in the line of 'We're really, really so fucked, no-one respects us any more. America has ditched us, the EU forgotten us, our fate seems unassailably grim.
Of course good leadership would be more than ever essential, not just relatively better than the last 30 years or so, but Churchill level.
A situation where the effort to create a bogeyman would be wasted, as it was so obvious to anyone with half a brain that it was the Tories' fault, no ifs or buts or maybes.
It's no secret I have been rooting for Corbyn for years so I won't pretend objectivity, but his dignity under attack has only grown his political maturity and he continues to exhibit a human decency extremely rare in Britpol.
So would he be up to the difficult job of leading the UK through such a fall from grace?
I'd like to think so, there's a gritty calm there that represents the best of British values, and the young people already have sniffed it out.
You can say that I'm a dreamer... :)

'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 Sun Mar 4th, 2018 at 10:42:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem for Corbyn or any British PM post Brexit is that if Brexit turns out to be as bad as it could be - a hard, no deal, Brexit with WTO rules or even a trade war with the EU as the EU tries to recover unpaid Brexit bills - then GDP will fall by c. 10%, government revenues will crater, and it will become impossible to fund even basic public services.

If Corbyn tries to increase taxes to make up the revenue shortfall he risks exacerbating the exodus of industry and highly skilled workers and so the task becomes one of managing a decline, implementing austerity, and taking the blame for falling living standards. I would expect a period of great political instability as ruling elites fight over diminishing assets and the great unwashed become increasingly radicalised.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:46:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank: I would expect a period of great political instability as ruling elites fight over diminishing assets and the great unwashed become increasingly radicalised.

A politically unstable country but with a strong military: pretty much the concern expressed in my comment downthread.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 07:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any chance of a diary on the Italian election result? I am not qualified to write it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:48:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd love to Frank, but I am not in diary league.
Not politically astute enough by a long way.
De Gonfio,  please come grace us with your take on what looks so far like an historic election.
Mv5* has 30% of the vote so far, with Salvini (Lega) in remote second place with 14%.
They would need 40% to govern outright, so now the alliance game begins.
There is a very delicate political calculus to be made, both by Mattarella the President who is the ultimate arbiter, and the 5* who have a difficult choice on how to govern with 10% less seats than they would have needed.
Their plan is to invite opposing forces to come together on points of the 5* program and do something risibly rare in Italian politics: vote for their legislation without seats and treats being offered in return.
Considering the gargantuan levels of ego in Italian politics I think they may be way optimistic about this considering their first proposal is to cut all parliament's and the senate's paychecks in half!
Something they have done since the beginning, giving the money to start up small businesses.
Their electoral victory is not in question, but the tripolar situation and their abhorrence of allying with their enemies could make the country too ructious to govern effectively. Mattarella would possibly reject them as a potential government and revert to a stopgap technical government which would likely have no 5* members in it.
This was intended all along by means of the electoral law, but will take considerable aplomb to get by the enraged supporters who will be nothing if not vociferous, and it makes Italy look really bad at home and abroad.
Very hard to see what will happen next, but this has been an epic journey this far and a tribute to the energetic campaign they have run.
I will go out on a limb here but I believe many political aspirants will study their form very carefully from all over the world.
Their program is excellent, greener than greens, more anti-poverty than the PD centre left, and for a 'happy deplaning' (felice decrescita) from the consumer society growth model. They have also communicated who their ministers will be pre-election, another first.
Anti-war, pro-legal asylum and better-managed immigration policies, anti-corruption, anti-mafia.
Not one platform plank I disagree with!
(Still pinching myself...)
They have rewritten the book on Italian politics and are still young as a movement, the candidate for premier, Di Maio is 32 years old!

'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 Mar 5th, 2018 at 03:02:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The coverage I have seen of Italian politics and the 5* movement, even on PBS, has mostly been critical to dismissive. Garbage not collected in Rome. 5* incompetent. Etc. I suspect a game of 'looking good, looking bad' may be what is mostly on offer, but I would really like a view from Italy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 05:11:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the Anglo position first noted ahead of the election 13 Feb. From the Local
Campaign 2018 Spot Check, "Is Italy's Five Star Movement still an 'anti-establishment' party?"

Euractiv went into overdrive 2 Mar "Italian election campaign plagued by fake news". The author defers to BuzzFeed News "investigations." The reader then has to inspect circular references to Italian cryptologists, Facebook, Twitter, NYT, and Google relays to discover the "fake news" allegations do not "echo" but originate with Ben Cardin's Senate Foreign Relations Committee report said to detail "Russian Election Interference In Europe".

Simon's casually concludes

The two parties [M5 and Norde] are broadly in favour of lifting the European sanctions against Russia, adopted in response to the annexation of Crimea by Moscow.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 04:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a problem with blaming Italian politics on Russia: Russia's modus operandi is to sow chaos, but, in Italy, how could you tell if you had succeeded? And even if Putin did intervene and support right wing parties he was certainly not successful. But opposing fossil fuel sanctions is just rational for Italians. Everyone wants to be warm in winter.

The main issue with 5* is that they scare the shit out of the executives and owners of Western Media, so straight up reporting is a very bad career move for 99% of all reporters. Then there is a lack of sources. If the media companies don't send reporters to Italy and can't use reports from fringe online groups their reporters can't say anything except to quote official sources such as Cardin.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 04:23:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"There is a problem with blaming Italian politics on Russia: Russia's modus operandi is to sow chaos, but, in Italy, how could you tell if you had succeeded?"

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:55:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even the organised smearing of Corbyn was gadfly level compared to the media lynching I have seen here in Italy these last 5 years, vitriol and vituperation,  rinse repeat.
I have heard that Putin has backed far right parties in Europe from sources I respect. Apparently Europe's inflicting US-sponsored sanctions had repercussions, who could possibly predicted?
Berlusconi was very chummy with Putin when in power, signing Italy up for cheap gas contracts and hosting him at 'elegant dinners' (Bunga bunga galore and a new bordello bed gifted personally), so possibly there's something quid pro quo-ish to look for there, but I doubt it.
The huge misconception internationally is that MV5* is right-oriented, let alone hard right! Beyond ridiculous.
Centre-right was Berlusconi's (dwindling) chunk of the vote, libertarian in desire for smaller government,  low taxes and juicy kisses to big business.
Tirades against commies under every Italian bed, the magistrates for daring to charge him for grave crimes and so on.
He mellowed a bit, but his breed is dying off demographically and the electorate spanked him soundly.
But that was nothing compared the thrashing they gave Renzi, richly deserved as it was.
Salvini in coalition with Berlusconi and a couple of insignificant 'partitini' have a slim majority of seats, but not enough for an absolute rule.
The 5*MV tripled the number of their seats but since they stubbornly refuse to ally themselves with any present party (a major plus) they fall just short of the number needed.
The PD took a bath and has to ask itself if it has much future with less than 20% of the vote.
All foreign journalists assumed that just because the 5*ers agreed with Salvini about the Euro, and had made that expedient but stinky alliance in Europe with Farage,that Grillo -and thus his following- must be  fascist.
Italian politics has been held in such low repute for so long internationally that, while colourful, it has been static and corrupt, uninteresting.
So the MV5* has been left mostly under the press radar except for the lunching from the Italian press.
Grillo himself has restyled himself 'guarantor' but no longer leader. He has handed that job over to Di Maio, who has pulled off what all considered impossible, with an intelligent campaign.
He has a very copacetic personality, a bit boy next-door with an impish grin and a razor-sharp mind.
He is fearless in his denunciation of the 'Caste' running the country further into the ground, but while still a mere stripling of 32 has a gravitas beyond his years. He has a very relaxed, sober demeanour,(a calming influence in the bear pit of Italian politics) and communicates in simple but not extravagant rhetoric (as do most pols.)
A great sense of humour -quick-witted and spontaneous- and a sunny smile have helped his ascent to popularity, but he has a playful, serene temperament that handled even the massive stress of the campaign with dignity and considerable acumen, answering the absurd charges from the media with resolved aplomb that gained much respect from the public.
He campaigns with no bodyguard, and violence at their rallies is unheard of.
He is patient, punctilious and even a little saturnine sometimes, all of which contribute to his unusual maturity for such a young man. There's a distinct air of statesman to him.
Salvini is a coarse, cruel man with an instinctive grasp of how to rile people up, just like his hero  Trump. It would be horrible to see him Prime Minister but he will not go down without a noisy fight, and if in opposition will be a pugnacious, belligerent and sometimes sly adversary. It is a bit of cult of personality with him though as his inner circle are short on brains, and he has a love/hate relationship with Berlusconi, whom he has finally surpassed in popularity with 17% to Silvio's 15%. They disagree about many things so as a coalition while together they outnumber the 5*MV they will start arguing immediately with other coalition members, an ugly thing to behold.
Italians know this, but the numbers don't lie.
Mattarella now has a Rubic's cube of a tripolar parliament, this may take weeks or months to tease a solution out.
Renzi is toast at this point, but so delusional he can't let go of the banana in the bottle, thereby blocking his own party's possible re-alignment towards a more constructive attitude to the MV5*. Worse this slows the whole country'so possible progress. A selfish, vain rooster, thoroughly enamored of himself to the point that he will be the last to know Italians are fed up with his shrill self-glorification, and boundless energy for political mischief.
The whole country is in a wobbly state over this election result that's neither fish nor fowl.
One thing for sure is that Beppe Grillo's redheaded stepchild has outgrown its perceived limits and is inexorably heading for more power to realise its programmes. This is not a flash in the pan, but a turning point towards a more vigorous, less senile political arena in these coming years.
It has been incredible to see the idea turn to a movement and now in all but name a proper political party, embracing the best of Italy's long traditions, cultural history and the modern era of the world wide web.
Politologists will be discussing this bizarrely conceived, post-ideological, avant-garde movement for a while methinks.
The most likely alliance is actually with the Renzi-freed remnants of the PD, which should firmly protect the movement from summarily absurd accusations of being right-wingers. If they were they would ally with Salvini and just get it over with.
Not going to happen.    

'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 Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 02:46:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for keeping us updated.

Do you have any english language sources for the program of M5*? Or if they have an english outlet of some sort?

I can always quote wikipedia, but I prefer primary sources as long as I can understand them.

Wikipedias description

The "five stars" are a reference to five key issues for the party: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to Internet access, and environmentalism. The party also advocates e-democracy, direct democracy,[22] the principle of "zero-cost politics",[23] degrowth,[24] and nonviolence.[25] In foreign policy, the M5S has criticized military interventions of the West in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq,[26] Libya) as well as any notion of American intervention in Syria.[27]

Crazy right-wingers, eh?

by fjallstrom on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 12:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More analysis:
The Five Star Movement, having been in second place for five years now, is now the biggest party in the Italian parliament.

It probably won't join a government, as that would cause an immediate crisis for the organisation, which thrives on its ideological incoherence. Like the original Five Star, once tainted by unpopularity, it would be rarely be heard or thought of again.

As a party with a strong "anti-establishment" flavour (and flavour is very much the word for it), Five Star attracts a lot of support from younger voters, and quite a lot of traditionally centre-left-voting blue collar workers.

The dispensation of the centre media is that Italians, especially young people, have just seceded en masse to the "populists", "anti-establishment parties of the left and right". According to CNN, "the fascists did scarily well". We'll come back to this last point, but for now I'm interested in what constitutes this figure of "populist", "anti-establishment" politics for the press.

By and large, there is a tendency to treat it as a crude generational war, politically indiscriminate in its resentment. This is roughly how The Economist, voice of the capitalist centre, represents things, such that everyone from trade unions, to mainstream parties, to "an ill-defined 'ruling class'" is blamed by these angry youths for the generational gap in prospects.

by generic on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:56:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to CNN, "the fascists did scarily well".

Salvini's coalition got 43% of the vote in Israel. Did CNN just call Israelis fascists? That's a lot better than the 30-35% he got in Russia and in Putin's colony the US. Meanwhile, the PD won in the UK, France, and Germany. M5S won Poland and Spain, but not much else.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 06:27:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know, right? Lol.
Another couple of things. They are fanatical about rule of law, praising and urging more funding for the police and secret service but not the military. This gave me pause, a bit of a red flag of traditional rightist rhetoric. (Meanwhile Salvini is encouraging Italians to arm themselves to repel immigrant invaders...)
I came to peace with it because of two reasons. One is the cops really are underfunded, so much so that they pay for their own gas for cars, have outdated equipment and apparently are even short of office supplies.
Cops have not been in the news for excessive force, cruelty or false arrests recently, we are a long way from Genoa G8, when they went on a sadistic rampage under Fini's control under a Berlusconi government. They have a better profile now and in my experiences with them in rural Appennini have been generally positive. Very low profile, little overt authoritarianism.
MV5* have been accused of being dictatorial within their own party, initially expelling members for even being under investigation as they want an unblemished roster of candidates who all stay on track with their precepts. To give you some contrast here just in the last election the PD had 29 candidates and the RW coalition 21 who were indicted, on trial or with criminal records. Naturally they saw an opportunity to criticise the movement for excessive party discipline and standards too high for politics.
In a country famed for corruption this marked them out distinctly, and their main rallying cry chanted at rallies is 'Onestà, onestà'.
They have unbent a bit since and as long as there is no damning evidence of crime before trial they will wait until judgement, but their ruthlessness in cleaning their own house is much appreciated by a public weary of the status quo. In this last batch they blond two candidates had Masonic ties and were smartly escorted out back into oblivion.They even expelled a mayor well loved in his town because he compromised on building an incinerator and thus betrayed the ecological ideals of the movement. He was revoted in anyway and is apparently otherwise doing good work as an independent.
All their mayors inherited chaotic, debt-ridden treasuries and impressively went immediately to work hiring and firing to cut costs, usually getting acounts into the black quite early in their terms in office.
Virginia Raggi, the (first) female mayor of Rome has been media lynched continuously for not solving all the city's decades-old problems created by previous left and right misgovernments overnight. Rubbish, wild pigs and rats featured heavily in front press pages with screaming headlines about her terrible incompetence. She has borne her role with great poise and dignity, doing much for the city in one year. The rubbish and transport sectors were completely under mob control and she has cleaned them both up. Chiara Appendino, the 5* mayoress of Turin has likewise balanced the municipal coffers and also won 'Most popular mayor in Italy award' after a year in office.
So the charge of incompetence whipped up by the media (and sadly believed by much of the public for a while) is losing potency as they chalk up more experience and gather ever more support.
They know that if they want to succeed in lowering corruption they have to be squeaky clean themselves, and so far few candidates have strayed from the straight and narrow, and when they did were immediately expelled from the movement. Growth has been so fast they need to learn to better discriminate sometimes. This temptation for rascals to ride the political wave of change to slip into the movement, but most of the candidates are seasoned activists in their areas. Another rule they have is that candidates must live and work in the area where they seek the vote, which makes for much greater accountability. The other parties parachute their people into places far away from where they are known too well and they can fall upwards to the party's content. A prime example is the PD minister Maria Elena Boschi, enmeshed n a banking scandal that involves her father and brother and made her loathed in her home town of Arezzo because so many people there lost their savings in the last  (of many Renzi-decreed) bail-ins. She has lied about her interference in the matter as it is completely out of her bailiwick as she was not finance minister.
Grillo'sometime erratic and irascible presence is fading into the past though he still retains enormous affection and pride for what has been achieved. He has 'retired' from leading and is there if needed only.
The baton is firmly passed to the youger generation now, and he is happy as a clam with his brainchild (along with Web guru Roberto Casaleggio) started only seven scandal-filled years ago.
As I see it they are left of the PD but avoid both the academicised intellectual baggage and bourgeois knee-jerk liberalism of the old pseudo socialist limo left like the plague. They claim to be post-ideological, taking sheets from both sides' hymn books as -and only if- they please and thus creating a democratic alternative to both centre left and right.
This is a thin tightrope to walk. As they grow they will encounter new and possibly unseen challenges as Italian politics is full of wily old wolves with Phds in Machiavellismo.
Italians are waking up from the limbo of resigned fatalism in which they have been wallowing till recently. While things are still tough and often tragic here since Italy has the lowest growth in the EU and the highest debt, the rich-poor gap is widening and only a few are feeling the meagre updraft of a GDP growth of less than 2%, even with low oil prices and Draghi's QE cheap money.
The candidate for Economy minister is a very progressive Keynesian and will give a good rattle to the Euro cage if placed in office.
Now for turning this roadblock of Salvini into just a speedbump...
Five fingers crossed for Mattarella to make the correct decision.

'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 Mar 8th, 2018 at 02:15:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Beppe Grillo just came out for holding that paragon of environmentalism, the Olympics, in Turin.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Mar 10th, 2018 at 04:25:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The dolt! Is he totally ignorant of the systematic manner in which the IOC rips off host cities and their citizens?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 10th, 2018 at 08:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes that rankles quite a few supporters.
Some context, Raggi forbade the building of a huge stadium boondoggle in Rome and was roundly criticised for it. She also decided not to candidate Roma for some huge sports event in 2025 because the city coffers were too depleted by preceding administrations and burdened with huge debt. This pissed off the builder/real estate moguls who have been fattening their wallets for decades and form much of the backroom PTB in the city, cosily in cahoots with the rest of the 'Casta' in the Capital.
So Grillo's backing this move for Torino is to show they are listening to the numerous people who love sports in Italy and they don't want to come off as the party of joyless 'No' to everything, (one of the biggest smears pointed at them).
According to what I have read, the infrastructure for the winter olympics is already largely in place in the Torino hinterland so the expenditure will not be as huge as it often is for this kind of thing.
Of course the more mature a political force they become, the more they drift to the centre, and shed some of their rougher edges and more extreme socio-political stances...
So we are hearing a lot less about chemtrails, anti-vax rhetoric and leaving the Euro. The voters can taste an imminent empowerment possible in the next government and as long as they remain far to the left of the decaying, fractured PD they will grow.
Salvini wants a 15% flat tax, the 5* want a citizens' stipend of €780 a month in return for civic neighbourhood labour of 8 hours a week and free tuition in a new professional qualification. Then at the 3rd job refusal the funding will stop.
In the South, struck by poverty and 45% youth unemployment this was a huge vote-getter so they will have to follow through to keep the voters sweet.
This is slagged as 'assistentialism' by all the other parties, (natch).

'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 Apr 7th, 2018 at 06:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Superficially or not, the M5S rise could be comparable with the populist win in Lithuania in October 2016:

Anti-emigration party storms to victory in Lithuania

An obscure protest party in Lithuania with just one MP in parliament has stormed to power in a shock general election victory after pledging to tackle the country's emigration crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians have been lured abroad by higher wages in an alarming "brain drain" that has seen the population plummet to less than 2.6m

It has lost more than 370,000 people -  of which roughly half have gone to Britain -  since the eastern European country joined the bloc in 2004.

The Peasants and Green Union (LPGU) must now forge a coalition government after becoming the biggest party in Lithuanian politics, with 54 of the 141 seats

They dominated a coalition with the Social Democrats, who had quibbles from time to time and left the government in September 2017 (and soon started splitting) - thus attention German Social-Democrats?! There has been much trash talk from the serious media and political commentators against LPGU, but their government is still standing without anything notable for international commentary. I am not an insider to tell the difference that their governing makes.
by das monde on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 07:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing immigration and promoting family welfare for demographic reasons are platform planks for both Salvini and Di Maio.
MV5* cares much more about the brain drain of emigration due to very high youth unemployment, especially in the south.
They never hate on immigrants, and just want to take the corruption and trafficking down to zero,along with the lowering the absurd waiting time to establish asylum  (2-3 years, while in other countries it's a tenth of that).
Salvini would let them drown, idem many of his followers, some of whom are immigrant hostel camp burners, neighbourhood vigilante groups who commit hate crimes.
Georgia Meloni, leader of Brothers of Italy, the third party in the right wing axis (5% of electorate) has just come back from a bootlicking visit to Orban, to give you an idea of where she stands on the r-w spectrum. One of her ministers has just been indicted for corruption in the rubbish business of Salerno.
You want real rightwingers, you don't need to look far...

'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 Mar 8th, 2018 at 02:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even a factual overview combined with your opinion piece above would take the bare look off the front page! Most people have no idea what 5* are about and have this vague notion - gleaned from the MSM - that they are some sort of inchoate protest movement with little or no idea of how to govern. Their views on the EU and Euro would also be of interest here.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 01:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For example Booman has just written this in his last post - we really must push back on his simplistic analysis, but I am not qualified to do so:

If we really want to have some introspection and responsibility, it's time for the left as a whole to look at what happened in Italy yesterday and get real. It's true that Italians are feeling overwhelmed with migrants and that the economy is stagnant, which means that there are actual causes for the right-wing populist revival of fascism. But the Five Star Movement, which got the most votes, is a completely Putin-aligned political phenomenon. Putin has been pushing these fascist forces in elections throughout Europe as a way of weakening the European Union and NATO. Helping Trump and  hurting Clinton were part of the same overall plan.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 03:47:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why I don't read BT anymore.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 03:51:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the absence of any better qualified commentator on Booman (other than fjallstrom who has written a typically cogent and terse comment here, I have posted the following response on Booman:

Warmed up Hillary soup?

Sorry Booman, but your lead post and some of the comments here are just plain silly. It may or may not be to the Democratic party's advantage to focus on Russian meddling the world over as a way of getting at Trump (and perhaps avoiding a deeper self analysis for Hillary's failure). I will leave it to yourself and your allies to judge what is good politics for you to pursue in the USA.

But as far as Europe is concerned, its just totally off point. Italy has long had a strong Communist party with a history of alignment with the Soviet Union. That party is now weaker than ever, and the 5* movement is NOT it's successor. It is prospering for entirely domestic reasons of austerity, stagnation, and the immigrant crisis. Sure the Russian ambassador is doing his job - while the US has none. A legitimate point to make against Trump. But if you were blogging in Italy, as a progressive, I suspect you would be supporting the 5* movement.

5*'s policy positions are pretty mainstream in Europe. Virtually nobody doubts that the US and EU meddled in the Ukraine and that that meddling backfired spectacularly. Virtually nobody knows who to support in Syria. Probably all but humanitarian interference there is to be avoided. Certainly it is difficult to see the US position as obviously preferable to Putin's. Probably the best outcome, and now the obvious one, is for Assad's regime to win quickly so as to minimise further loss of life. There is almost nothing left to win there anyway, and it is in Europe's interest to limit the further inflow of refugees that is destabilising European politics.

But you risk delegitimising the US progressive left abroad by buying into neo-con fantasies and media propaganda. It was a difficult enough choice for most progressives outside the US to choose between Hillary's neo-con warmongering and Trump's totally incompetent isolationism. Either way the USA and the rest of the world loses. If the US left cannot offer us something better we will become indifferent to the result of the mid-terms and even Trunmp's re-election - always assuming he doesn't actual start a nuclear war somewhere or a trade war with the rest of the world - something he seems intent on doing. Either way, everybody loses. Is a moderately competent conservative US President the best we can hope for in the future?

Is that all the US left have to offer? Or do you simply not care what the rest of the world thinks? The USA has already lost it's place as the largest economy in the world (measured in PPP GDP (IMF and CIA World Factbook) . It has also lost almost all semblance of leadership in world politics. I am personally not looking forward to China taking over, and the EU is too diffuse a power ever to exert really powerful global leadership. But I am fearful of what will happen in the vacuum of there being almost no global leadership of any kind. Can you offer us nothing better than warmed up Hillary soup?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 05:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Harsh, but entirely fair

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 10:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have in general stopped commenting on Russiagate, though I keep reading to see if anything more substantial turns out. But when the Russia-explanation spills over into Europe I tend to react.
by fjallstrom on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 12:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melo: A situation where the effort to create a bogeyman would be wasted, as it was so obvious to anyone with half a brain that it was the Tories' fault, no ifs or buts or maybes.

Quite the opposite I'm afraid: those who threw Britain in that hole will want to make sure that blame is deflected from them and aimed squarely at their favorite bogeyman - the (German run, French inspired) Europe instead. Patriotism; still the last refuge of the scoundrels, is it not?

I've already written before that I fully expect a rise in violent rhetoric as the Brexiters dreams fail to materialize. Renewed violence in Northern Ireland is not only a small price to pay (by others), but a welcome diversion too. And let's not forget Gibraltar:

Gibraltar to Spain: We won't be blackmailed on Brexit transition - Politico

Gibraltar will not be bullied into accepting joint sovereignty between the U.K. and Spain as a condition for being included in a Brexit transition period, the territory's deputy chief minister, Joseph Garcia, said.

Spain has sought to reclaim sovereignty over Gibraltar from the U.K. for nearly 300 years, and the EU has effectively given Madrid veto authority over any provisions pertaining to the Rock in a Brexit agreement.

Anxiety among Gibraltar officials has deepened, however, since Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in December he viewed that veto power as applying to a transition deal as well.

Spain sets Brexit challenge with Gibraltar demands - FT

Spain is demanding joint management of Gibraltar's airport after Britain leaves the EU, as it spells out its position on an issue that could derail a Brexit deal.

Alfonso Dastis, Spain's foreign minister, told the Financial Times that Spain wants a bilateral deal with the UK that includes "managing the airport together" as well greater co-operation on tax fraud and tobacco smuggling.

His position falls well short of a full-blooded demand for sovereignty over Gibraltar as part of a Brexit deal. "Sovereignty is something we aspire to, that we are not renouncing, but in these negotiations it is not the issue," Mr Dastis said.

Britain still has one the most powerful militaries of Western Europe and it doesn't take much to picture an ultra-nationalist government being tempted to use it to "right" the European "wrongs"...

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Mar 5th, 2018 at 07:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the overwhelming lethality of modern weaponry and its immense cost, I'd expect that any hostilities between what are under-sized and over-equipped forces would quickly result in a more or less total evaporation of the UK's ability to project force beyond its borders.

A day or two of carnage, as air defense assests are used up at an alarming rate and air and naval forces mutually annihilate each other, followed by an angry sulk. No European power has the sort of overwhelming force necessary to make much progress, I think.

by Zwackus on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 06:17:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd expect low level skirmishing at most, posturing and blockading being more likely. Though once you start a cold war, the risk of it heating up is obviously high.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 10:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My worst case scenario is for a trade war precipitated by the UK refusing to pay any exit bill in a no deal scenario followed by a radical Sterling devaluation which forces the EU to respond with some tariffs, labelled "administrative fees", to maintain competitiveness and avoid falling foul of WTO rules.  It the UK retaliates the EU my be forced to up the ante with greater tariff or non tariff barriers.

But that is about as bad as I think it could get. Even my fetid imagination falls short of actual military hostilities. That is a war no one could win. Consumer boycotts, maybe, a breakdown in cooperation in lots of areas, possibly, some cybersecurity mischief, almost certainly. War is something we keep for the third world and to keep Russia at bay.  That keeps the military industrial complex busy and in profit. The last thing anyone wants is to fight on their own soil.

Germany England football matches might have an extra edge to them, though. And of course Ireland will continue to beat England at rugby...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 12:54:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could see a bit of posturing around Gibraltar.

But don't underestimate how badly wrong it could go if the ERG types displace May, get their diamond hard Brexit and discover that 18th C solutions don't work for 21st problems. Not even for the assholes who thought they'd clean up. An election where they and UKIP successfully put the blame on traitor May and her backer Soros could throw up some frightening times: they'll need something to distract the masses, and sticking it to Johnny Foreigner is always a popular option.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 01:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the USA it is axiomatic that 'The highest return you will ever get on an investment is from donations to a successful politician'. That is pretty sad as a business model. How are you going to externalize the destruction of your own society? Because that is the end result of all contributions by the wealthy to politicians. Only the cover story has improved since James I granted a salt monopoly patent. Most of these 'donors' are just buying the right to plunder the public by one scheme or another.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 04:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd expect some bloody nonsense in Northern Ireland. The only trick the right wing knows is to blow up some nationalist outrage to shift the debate. Worked brilliantly for Rajoy with Catalonia.
by generic on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 01:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I missing some sarcastic scare quotes here?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 02:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really. He isn't in jail, the parties on the left are in a very difficult situation where they have to finesse a position  between the breakup of the nation and endorsing a right wing crack down and the different-but-same party, the C's get to grab some attention.
What's not to like if your Rajoy?
by generic on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 06:17:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Spaniards I spoke to (not from Catalonia) were convinced the separatists were a minority and would lose the elections called by Rajoy. The separatists won again - hardly a ringing endorsement for Rajoy.  The people I spoke to were, however, very upset that anyone would try to break up Spain, and thus very supportive of Rajoy's attempts to preserve unity - even if not necessarily PP supporters. They found it very difficult to understand my point that much of what he has done has been counter-productive, if Spanish unity is the objective.

I'm not sure how your analogy with N. Ireland works. The DUP trying to impose Brexit against the wishes of the majority there is already an outrage. It has been partly responsible for the breakdown in relationships with Sinn Fein which has prevented a re-establishment of devolved institutions there. Sinn Fein came with 1,000 votes of becoming the largest party at the last Assembly elections. There is a large majority against the DUP now on the Brexit issue, and if they aren't careful that political consensus against them will broaden to all other issues.

If I were a DUP member now, I would be very nervous that I have put "the Union" back in play. Their fate depends on the survival of the May government, but for how long? The fact that the Varadker government hasn't been amenable to their idea of "compromise" on the border may encourage some to try some dirty tricks against Varadker. It would want to be very smartly done to succeed. Irish nationalism is not short on conspiracy theories about what Mi5 and some loyalist groups might get up to. It is very likely any obvious atrocity would backfire spectacularly.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 06:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if the separatists had lost decisively the issue would have been put on the back burner. Who wants that? Maybe if you cared about the economic or otherwise well-being of Catalonia, or really Spain, but I think we have proven decisively that that doesn't describe anyone in the EPP.

But, on reflection, Northern Ireland wouldn't work. They'd probably have to go for Scotland if they want to achieve something similar. No one in mainland UK cares that much about Northern Ireland.

by generic on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 12:41:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Within two years of Brexit actually happening if Labour come to power in it's aftermath they will be blamed by the media for all the consequences - austerity, inflation, real pay reductions, job losses, higher taxes - even though any "expert" economist will tell you they are all caused by the Tory led Brexit.

The media operate on a 24 hour cycle and aren't interested in factors that take years to become apparent. The public, too, are quick to develop amnesia about actually having supported Brexit and will blame the government of the day, even if only by blaming Labour for not having made the consequences of Brexit clear.

It's always somebody else's fault - the Government, Jewish bankers, nasty Germans, unelected Brussels bureaucrats, awkward Irish, ungrateful former colonies, immigrants, welfare scroungers, you name it. The list of potential suspects is endless.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 01:08:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since December Gibraltar's position viz. BREXIT was similar to DUP in NI. The "Overseas Territory" would not accept a different deal than any offered the UK. The gov objected to EU grant of veto power of any BREXIT "deal" to Spain. Gib gov vigorously defended its reliance on UK to negotiate with EU and Spain, since the UK sponsored its membership in the EU. It sent two delegations to Whitehall (sideline or "second-class" committee briefings) Jan-Feb to ascertain UK negotiating position on its behalf and basically came away empty handed. Note that the EU official position has always been Gibraltar for all intents and purposes, regardless of Gib claims to sovereignty, is UK.

At Jan UK-ES bi-lateral conference ES basically offered to assume role of Gib sponsor in EU. Gib gov initially rejected the implication, DUP-like expecting UK obligations.

Gib and Spain agree "joint" operation of the airfield is a canard. A superceding, bi-lateral contract already exists.

Since May's conspicuously ridiculous rejection of EU draft text last week, including but not limited to NI border and EU citizen rights, Gib gov has turned to direct negotiation with EU task force. That's why ES is backing off and changed its representative.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 04:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see the EU task force being overly exercised by what Gibraltar wants or doesn't want. They will take their lead from Spain. In the short term Spain needs at least a blocking minority on the EU Council to ensure it's interests are protected in a manner of its own choosing. After 1.4.2019 they have the right of veto on any further deals, so its position may harden accordingly.

The EU also refused to take a position on May's promise of "no border in the Irish sea" to the DUP, much to the latter's annoyance. The EU's position is simply that that is an internal matter fro the UK to decide. (Had it taken a position, the DUP would probably have accused the EU of interfering in the UK's sovereign constitutional affairs!).

So the Gibraltarians can make as much noise as they like. They are not a party to the negotiations. No doubt the UK government will make a point of sticking up for them against the evil imperialistic designs of the Spanish! But if you were an EU negotiator and you already have 27 Bosses to worry about - not to mention the EU and some regional Parliaments - are you seriously going to manage the UK's internal affairs for them as well?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 05:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism is viewing Brexit with alarm.

As we and others have warned, as of Brexit, meaning March 2019, the UK is out of all sorts of agreements with third countries that it had participated in via membership in the EU. A transition agreement with the EU will not extend to these deals with other countries and trade blocks. The UK has a daunting number of agreements to try to stitch up in a bit more than a year, and it barely seems to be taking this looming problem seriously.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 05:41:09 PM EST
Au Contraire... the UK is simply assuming that all those third parties will simply be only too delighted to roll over their agreements with the EU to the UK. Expect lots of headlines about nasty backstabbing ungrateful "partners" taking advantage of Brexit to do GREAT BRITAIN down.  It never seems to occur to Brexiteers (or Trump) that if you blow your Trumpet about putting Britain (or USA) First that your "partners" might think to do the same. They rather presume that said third parties are entirely happen with the deals the EU strong armed them into. I presume the UK government has a large slush fund to bribe said foreign leaders to do the "right" thing...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 05:57:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Council's Brexit negotiating guidelines APR 2017
Article 3 acknowledges UK's colonies political "union" in UK. Article 3 acknowledges the UK may desire to negotiate severable trade obligations between its colonies and the EU. Madam May decided last week not to exercise options A - C without the political support of Tory gov and the UK's colonies to fulfill EU customs requirements placed on UK exports. So be it: The UK "trade union" will diminish together for want of "frictionless" trade with the EU and ROW. UK trade "partners" will sideline dubious exports by the following.
EC Draft Withdrawal Agreement (pdf) FEB 2018
1. Unless otherwise provided in this Agreement or in Union law made applicable by this Agreement, any reference in this Agreement to the United Kingdom or its territory, shall be understood as referring to:
(a) the United Kingdom;
(b) the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus to the extent that Union law was applicable to them before the date of entry into force of this Agreement;
(c) the overseas countries and territories listed in Annex II to the TFEU having special relations with the United Kingdom3 , where the provisions of this Agreement relate to the special arrangements for the association of the overseas countries and territories with the Union.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 07:02:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think ATinNM was referring to FTA's the EU has with sovereign third parties such as Canada rather than "overseas territories" such as Gibraltar which the EU has been dealing with as more or less part of the UK - for the practical purposes of trade - as your quote confirms.

Liam Fox seems to think that the Canada's of this world will be only too delighted to grant the UK the same terms of trade as were painstakingly negotiated with the EU in the belief that they would gain access to a market of 500M people in return. That FTA involved lots of compromises which Canada might wish to revisit in the context of a deal with the UK and the much smaller market opportunity it represents.

If I was a Canadian trade negotiator I would have a list of things I rather reluctantly conceded to the EU which I am absolutely not prepared to concede to the UK.  But has Liam Fox even had that conversation with the Canadians yet? And what about the hundreds of other deals the EU has with other third parties?

The global political climate for free trade negotiations has hardly improved in recent weeks. What if the Canadian Government, and all the other third parties, decide to "put their own countries first" and "have there cake and eat it"?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 07:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Liam Fox is a comlete idiot and hasn't got a clue what he is doing. I think right now he is simply enjoying flying around the world at taxpayer's expense imagining all the great fantastic easy best deals he can do as soon as the dead hand of the European bureaucracy is lifted from this shoulders

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 6th, 2018 at 10:23:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it amusing the consensus we reached a year ago is slowly becoming CW in the rest of the world.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Mar 8th, 2018 at 07:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found this:
The Five Star Movement: how a comedian's non-party became Italy's biggest political force           New Statesman     These are the concluding three paragraphs:
In 2006, before funding the Five Star Movement, Grillo launched a series of local meetings to mobilise citizens across Italy and discuss issues such as environmentalism and the fight against corruption. The following year he then organised the V-Day in Bologna (where V stood for a very rude Italian word along the lines of "go fuck yourself".) This was a day of public mobilisation, in which Grillo and his allies collected signatures in support of a law calling for voters to choose their candidates directly (rather than through party lists), and prevent the possible election of convicted criminals and MPs who had already completed two legislatures.

Until 2013, the Five Star Movement took part only in local elections, succeeding in winning important cities like Parma, a historic centre-left stronghold. In the 2013 general elections, however, the Five Star got 25.6 per cent of the vote, becoming the largest opposition party to the government. In 2016, the Five Star Movement won the elections in the capital Rome and in Turin, northern Italy's second most populous city.

The main Five Star proposal is the introduction of a "citizenship income", which would see the unemployed paid €780 a month - provided they are performing weekly community service and seeking work - while those earning less than this basic income would receive the difference from the government. According to the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), the plans would cost €14.9bn for a total of eight-and-a-half million people - a figure increased to an annual €17bn, by the Five Star Movement's plans to also strengthen labour policies.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 04:50:06 PM EST
be wary of New Statesman. It is largely viewing the world from a Blairite centrist position. they are very unsympathetic to Corbyn and I'd imagine that disdain for populist left movements elsewhere would find similar expression

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 07:10:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From The Independent:
Who is Beppe Grillo and what is Five Star Movement?

A bio of Grillo, a history of the movement and this:

The profile of M5s activists and supporters casts doubt on whether it would be able to govern effectively if it did win an election.

A vote for the M5s is a straightforward protest vote. Despite being united in their desire to shake up the status quo, M5s activists and supporters are divided across the whole range of issues separating left and right. They don't necessarily share a position on the EU, taxation or migration - in fact M5s voters are more or less split down the middle.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2018 at 05:10:47 PM EST
EU will not offer UK a financial services deal - Eurointelligence
The UK's political establishment has been massively complacent about the EU's willingness to offer a continuum of choices on the future trading relation. In reality is there are only two groups of deals - some combination of customs union/EEA agreement, or an FTA. The UK is now shocked, shocked, to learn that the EU will not offer an agreement on financial services as part of a broader trade deal. Of course the EU would not. The UK's decision to leave the customs union and the single market means that Brexit will be hard.  

Why the EU is right to blackball the City of London - Eurointelligence

The FT has a story that will come as a shock to many in the City of London, but not to us. The EU will flatly reject market access by UK financial firms after the end of the transitional phase. In other words, the EU will not accept Theresa May's three baskets - one basket full of cherries, another basket of cake. The British idea was that the EU and the UK would sit together and agree regulatory outcomes, and the City would then have continued market access. Donald Tusk will issue guidelines to instruct Michel Barnier that the UK will get no more than a bog-standard free-trade agreement, similar to that of Canada. The paper reports that Bruno Le Maire will this week clarify the French position on this issue - which is that financial services cannot be included in a trade agreement on the grounds that financial services are not goods. The only route for the UK into the EU financial markets is through regulatory equivalence, a one-sided procedure under which the trading partner adheres to EU rules in their entirety, and which the EU can end at short notice. This is clearly not an attractive or acceptable proposition for the UK.
by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Mar 9th, 2018 at 07:41:59 PM EST
I've never understood why the UK even imagined the EU would allow the City passporting facilities.

It would have been utterly stupid and completely counter-productive to allow it. So, it was never going to fly. Yet the Tories seem to have convinced themselves it was going to be easy.

In decades to come psycho-sociologists are going to make entire careers analysing the delusions of UK brexiteers

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 9th, 2018 at 09:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexiteers are convinced that Brexit will allow the UK much greater freedom to act in its own interest, for example by importing cheaper food from the southern Hemisphere. That could be true in certain instances. However they seem to imagine that the EU should not or will not act in it's own interests, perhaps because they have utter contempt for the competence of EU decision makers in the first place.

But why should the EU not seize this historic opportunity to capture much of the UK's lucrative financial services business? Why should it allow continued access to EU markets for UK food (some of it perhaps displaced from the UK market by cheaper third country imports)? If the Irish food industry is forced to compete with (say) New Zealand produce and perhaps suffer the imposition of WTO tariffs making it much less competitive on the UK market, should it not seek to displace (say) UK cheddar on EU markets?

Some economic projections I have seen anticipate the entire destruction of Irish food exports to the UK because of narrow margins and high WTO tariffs. The first port of call for the Irish agriculture minister should be to seek the exclusion of UK food from EU markets through the imposition of WTO tariffs so Ireland has a chance to make up its losses there. What's sauce for the goose...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 9th, 2018 at 10:25:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More collateral damage from Brexit. 96 per cent of Gibraltarians voted Remain.

For Gibraltar the EU was an escape hatch. No longer | Ian Jack | The Guardian | 10/03/2018

It would be foolish to think the European Union alone brought these conflicts to a close. Nevertheless, for Gibraltar and Northern Ireland - for England itself, if England had the wit to recognise it - the EU offered an escape hatch from an imperial identity. Hard edges have been softened; sovereignty means less; historic anomalies such as Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have an easier time. Gibraltar, which had no future as a military base for a country losing its military strength, makes a better living out of selling car insurance.
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Mar 12th, 2018 at 10:53:14 AM EST
Told y'all. Also, the naval asset angle is over-stated (by the usual suspect, who is neither Gib press, Gib gov, nor EU 27). One may be tempted to compare UK to RU in Crimea without admitting it, but that would be a mistake. Besides smugglers, the most noteworthy arrival in recent months at the port was HMS Ambush for repair and HMS Queen Elizabeth for fuel. Y'all are supposed to be following the money. Gib gov is in brave-face-hedge-mode, as it's obvious the same-no-deal strategy will deliver a losing hand to its Remainer constituency, or the silent majority in US-Eng parlance. Even petition for EU "association" may not be feasible without a clean break, ie. the dread semi-autonomous republic referendum to annex itself to the EU. Before 31 Dec 2019.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Mar 15th, 2018 at 04:56:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German industry is starting to panic about Brexit - Eurointelligence
We have noted before that the German media have been overemphasising the strength of the Brexit revocation lobby in their reporting. One of the consequences of this skewed reporting is that people underestimated the likelihood of the Brexit event, and that they have not started to prepare in time. German industry is now slowly waking up to the idea that they may be facing a dual onslaught - US tariffs, and an end to the customs union with the UK. These are two of Germany's three largest export markets. FAZ notes this morning that the president of the German federation of industry (BDI), Joachim Lang, is demanding a customs union with the UK. The EU is playing the same card indirectly - by insisting that Northern Ireland stays inside the customs union. But these are dangerous demands because they might backfire.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Mar 13th, 2018 at 09:04:42 AM EST
Muchau seems to be completely in thrall to some sort of weird Brexit Stockholm syndrome.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 13th, 2018 at 10:49:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wolfgang Münchau - promotes a free market economy, advance globalization. Had to Google who he is ...

The economic consequences of leaving the EU
The final report of the CER commission on Brexit 2016  


We would like to thank BT, Diageo, JP Morgan and Shell for supporting this updated
report. Thanks also to IBM and to TheCityUK for their support for the first edition.
We are grateful to Gaaitzen de Vries of the University of Groningen for his work
with the World Input-Output Database, and to Wolfgang Münchau, Jim Rollo, Peter
Holmes, Stephen Woolcock and Hugo Dixon for providing evidence at commission

Financial Times journalist Wolfgang Münchau's article (April 24, 2016) - The revenge of globalisation's losers .

The Social Market Economy of Easter Europe - An Underestimated Option?

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Mar 13th, 2018 at 03:13:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the US market matters but the UK market cannot be so important.

All of these things are grotesquely overblown, not even the germans will sacrifice the EU to save a couple of percent on Porche's sales targets

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 14th, 2018 at 10:10:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of Very Serious People are very seriously searching for good news about Brexit. It helps reduce the panic.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 15th, 2018 at 11:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: German car industry and UK market, I did some quick research almost two years ago.

German cars exported to the UK: 810 K

German cars exported to the USA: 620 K

In addition, carmakers do have factories in both countries. For the US manufacturing plants, many vehicles built in BMW, Mercedes and VAG factories in the Deep South are exported to... Germany.

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Mar 15th, 2018 at 09:13:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Board of Directors of Unilever in meeting set to axe its UK HQ to favor Rotterdam

Unilever, the maker of Dove shampoo and Marmite, is set to bring the curtain down on nearly a century of corporate history by axing its UK headquarters‎ and consolidating its legal base in the Netherlands.

Sky News has learnt that directors of Unilever‎'s dual British and Dutch holding companies are meeting in the coming hours to finalise the landmark decision.

Unilever - created in 1929 by the merger of Britain's Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie of the Netherlands - ‎owns many of the world's best-known consumer goods brands, including Magnum ice cream and Persil detergents.

It is the third-largest company in the FTSE 100 index, with a market value of approximately £113bn during Wednesday's trading session.

Run by Paul Polman, its Dutch chief executive, Unilever has been reviewing its dual corporate structure‎ since an unwanted £115bn takeover approach from the US-based food giant Kraft Heinz fell apart just over a year ago.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Mar 14th, 2018 at 09:56:50 PM EST
Choices for corporations are:

A.  Stay in the UK, wait for the UK government to negotiate and finalize >100 trade treaties while watching their global business evaporate

B.  Move to an EU country and continue business operations as usual

Brexiters predict most global business in the UK will choose A.

Anybody with the brains of a retard yak is predicting B.

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

by ATinNM on Thu Mar 15th, 2018 at 06:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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