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Boris the Beast

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 11th, 2018 at 11:54:41 AM EST

It seems increasingly obvious that the May government is incapable of formulating a coherent negotiating position its negotiators can use to progress the Brexit talks much further. Hemmed in by the DUP and Brexiteers in her own party who have the numbers to mount a leadership challenge, and a Parliament which has a soft Brexit (if not an outright Remainer) majority, her strategy to date has been to procrastinate, prevaricate and delay.

The problem is she is rapidly running out of time. She can probably afford another non-event of an EU summit this month, but if at least the outlines of a Brexit deal aren't agreed by the time the October summit comes around, a hard, "no-deal" Brexit looms. Boris Johnson assumes that the Brexit talks will have to go into a melt-down and lauds Trump's much more confrontational approach.

"Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He'd go in bloody hard. There'd be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he'd gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It's a very, very good thought."
That's probably as good as Boris' thinking gets.


However there are a few problems with this approach. Firstly, even Trump hasn't actually gotten very far with the 'bull in a china shop' approach. He may have ripped up the Paris Climate Change Accord and the Iran Nuclear deal, threatened to withdraw from NAFTA and do business with N. Korea, but what concrete positive arrangements has he put in their place? He hasn't even gotten his wall built.

Secondly, Trump is in a much stronger negotiating position leading the worlds only economic and military superpower, controlling the global reserve currency and running major trading deficits with the other major players. The EU and China certainly have a lot to lose in any major confrontation with Trump.

Not so much with the UK, however, which takes in only 4% of EU27 exports. So while a reduction in EU/UK trade would be damaging to the EU, it would be more in the nature of a bump in the road. The UK, by contrast, exports of 40% of its total exports to the EU. Ireland is the EU member state most heavily exposed to UK trade, and the only EU member state with which the UK runs a large trade surplus. So even here the UK would suffer more from a reduction in trade in absolute terms.

Moreover, as the Brexit talks have progressed, and despite all the talk of "a clean break", the EU negotiating team have been taken aback by how much the UK wants to continue being a member of various EU agencies and Treaties as if Brexit had never happened. All of this may be possible, no doubt, but we haven't even begun to discuss how much the EU will charge for continued membership. The sum total of membership charges at retail prices is unlikely to come in at less that the wholesale cost of EU membership as a whole.

So Boris can bang on about thumping the table as much as he wants. No doubt some all night negotiating sessions can be stage managed to ensure that everyone gets the impression some very hard bargains have been struck. No doubt talks may break down at certain stages only to be revived by the 'adults in the room' - presumably, Merkel, Macron and May - banging heads together.

But the overall shape of the deal is becoming clear: Yes, a transition until 2020 will be agreed, to allow all sides to better prepare for the split and enable trade talks to progress. Yes, selective membership of various agencies and treaties will be allowed - at prices yet to be negotiated. Yes, a special dispensation will be allowed for N. Ireland, but this will probably involve customs controls in the Irish sea whether May or the DUP like it or not. Ultimately, if the UK retains some form of membership or access to the Single market and Customs Union, these may not be necessary. But we are a long way from that outcome becoming clear.

From a Brexiteer point of view, it is essential that May "owns" the Brexit deal, and all the politically damaging compromises it will entail. She will be dumped like a hot potato as soon as the deal is done and passed by a soft Brexit dominated Parliament. Parliament, too, will be dumped by the UK electorate when the full effects of Brexit become clear. Then Boris and Co. can run the show - or at least that's the very cunning plan... But what we are witnessing now is essentially a pantomime act with Boris as the chief jester, playing the hard man, while seeking to avoid all responsibility for an outcome he, more than anyone, has been instrumental in bringing about.

Display:
Enda Kenny says UK government `lacks credibility' on Brexit
The British government is "riven by internal dissent" and lacks credibility on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, former taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Mr Kenny, in his first major public intervention since standing down as taoiseach a year ago, said he was "appalled" at what was happening in British politics.

Mr Kenny's remarks undermine criticism of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar by pro-Brexit British Conservatives who have claimed that Brexit negotiations would be more productive if a more experienced politician like the former taoiseach was involved.

His views emerged as Mr Varadkar raised the possibility of postponing the formal date of Brexit in March 2019 if the EU and UK are unable to agree a deal before then.

"There are a number of different scenarios that could arise if we're in a `no deal' situation," Mr Varadkar told TV3.

"For example, it is possible to extend Article 50 [the EU clause setting out a member state's departure from the bloc] to allow more time for negotiations to take place."

Speaking at an event in Dublin, Mr Kenny said there had been little progress since last December, when the UK and EU initially agreed to a number of issues, such as the so-called "backstop", he added.

"The [British] government is riven by internal dissent, lacks credibility and clarity on the most serious issue in decades. Six months on from an agreement being reached in December last year, very little progress has been made," the Mayo TD said.

"The EU continues to negotiate from a unified position. British business is afraid to speak out because of the spectre of a Labour government."

When you lose credibility, people become reluctant to negotiate with you. What is the point of reaching an agreement with people you cannot trust to deliver on their side of the bargain?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 11th, 2018 at 09:00:57 PM EST
The difficulty is that, while we all know "brexit means brexit", nobody has ever specified what kind of brexit she meant. Let alone one that would be acceptable to the leave campaigners.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 06:56:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit is the kind of Brexit she meant. Is that so hard to understand?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 07:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Semantics of Brexit means nobody knows what's going on
Anyone doing business in or with the United Kingdom needs to take some lessons in semantics. Since the Brexit referendum, words and phrases have been parsed within an inch of their life in order to find their true or probable meaning.

But no amount of language study would have shed any light on UK prime minister Theresa May's catchphrase, the one now gradually being chiselled on to her political tombstone. Empty of any content whatsoever, "Brexit means Brexit" never meant anything at all. Most of us now wonder whether May had any idea about what her own words might have meant

Not quite as vacuous was "No deal is better than a bad deal." Although repeated many times by many people in the immediate aftermath of the referendum it is significant that Brexiteers occasionally demand that the prime minister once again utters this phrase.

This one is not quite empty since it is dead wrong: it has a kind of parallel-universe meaning. All Brexit potential deals are bad, their only saving grace being that most of them will end up being a whole lot better, for the economy at least, than simply crashing out next March without any withdrawal agreement.

Prominent Brexiteers are giving up the claim that leaving the EU will produce immediate economic benefits. Both foreign secretary Boris Johnson and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage are giving passable demonstrations of how to row backwards. Johnson has even muttered about how even a "meltdown" in the short term would somehow be worth some nebulous longer-term benefits.

If all sorts of phrases have bedevilled Brexit it is almost poignant to see the whole process impaled on a single word. Backstop means backstop. So it is vital we understand what that word means.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 07:25:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some good (IMO) pieces in the Guardian today and on Politico.eu yesterday

I particularly like the opening of Rafael Behr's Guardian contribution -

Theresa May is circling the Brussels sky and low on fuel. Time to buckle up

A lot of confusion arises from the way "Brexit" has come to describe two very different things. It can be heroic liberation from foreign control - a common British definition. Or it can be the task of dismantling the UK's membership of the European Union, in which heroism plays no part. That is how it is generally understood abroad.

They sound the same and are spelt the same way, but the meanings have diverged so far that really they should be separate words. One is an event, the other is a process. One is booked for 29 March 2019; the other will drag on for a decade or more. One is a fantasy, the other is a negotiation. Fantasies tend to be non-negotiable.

Polly Toynbee is in her usual form on Johnson and Rees-Mogg delusions and describing how no progress has been made on untangling our dependence on EU agencies.

Politico.eu had a similar discussion yesterday on 12 cherries the UK wants to pick.

by oldremainmer48 on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 08:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 07:29:05 AM EST
Social media users rubbish The Sun's bizarre front ahead of Commons vote

Many of the items used to apparently highlight the best of British have very strong connections to Europe and even further afield.

One user tweeted: "Has anyone told The Sun that the Angel of the North was part-funded by a £150,000 grant from the EU's European Regional Development Fund?"


I understand that many of the places depicted have voted Remain.
by Bernard on Fri Jun 15th, 2018 at 08:17:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is this less important than, say, David Davis resigning?

British minister resigns over `irresponsible' Brexit strategy

British prime minister Theresa May has suffered a ministerial resignation ahead of crunch Commons votes on Brexit, with Phillip Lee hitting out at the Government's "irresponsible" approach.

Remain-supporting Dr Lee quit as justice minister on Tuesday, saying he could not support "how our country's exit from the EU looks set to be delivered".

He said his main objection to government policy was over the "wish to limit parliament's role in contributing to the final outcome" and signalled he would rebel on the issue in the Commons later.

Dr Lee also called for the government's final proposals to be put to the public in a second referendum.

"When the government is able to set out an achievable, clearly defined path, one that has been properly considered, whose implications have been foreseen, and that is rooted in reality and evidence, not dreams and dogma, it should go to the people, once again, to seek their confirmation," he wrote.

The issue of a "meaningful vote" is set to be a flashpoint in the Commons, with ministers seeking to overturn a Lords amendment which would give Parliament extensive powers to direct ministers how to proceed if a deal with Brussels is rejected by MPs or no deal is reached.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 11:34:01 AM EST
Raising the white flag to what avail?
Interesting days in the Commons :)

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 11:45:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So basically the entire UK government is psychotic - divorced from reality - and doesn't have a clue regarding the UK's situation on March 30, 2019.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 02:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boris Johnson backs bridge linking Northern Ireland and Scotland

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 02:51:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That plan has been posited with respect to a possible political union of Scotland and Northern Ireland, outside the United Kingdom (of er England and Wales)

Solves a lot of problems

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

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 03:24:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
o rrrrrrrrly? What sorts of problems?
(discard sovereignty/independence/devolution)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 03:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people betrayed

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 03:51:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good take-down of the Sun's betrayal...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 04:22:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Moving the hard border from Ireland to the main island seems if anything to make it worse?
by generic on Wed Jun 13th, 2018 at 01:53:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not? After all Masaniello proposed to build a bridge between Naples and Madrid in 1647. Quite a visionary for his days.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 10:02:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jun 13th, 2018 at 01:39:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is usually taken as a sign of his insanity....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jun 13th, 2018 at 08:45:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only that. They got and agreed to an implementation/transition period extension to 31 Dec 2020.
Then 6 June refused to accept a "time-limit" 2021 deadline which they requested.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 02:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like the government's meaningless concessions to Parliament will be enough to buy off the rebels without a spine...
They are about to vote on a meaningful vote.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 03:28:38 PM EST
Guardian :
The government has won the third vote. MPs voted to reverse the Lords amendment removing the "exit day" from the bill by 326 votes to 301 - a majority of 25. That means 29 March 2019 is going back in the bill as exit day.

Standing on the crumbling cliff edge, the government has managed to skillfully tie its own hands again.

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

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 04:20:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
parity watch!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 04:55:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ANOTHER VICTORY
for venal and stupid!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 04:56:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Tories keep trying to blow their brains out, but the bullets just keep passing through and missing.
by rifek on Tue Jun 19th, 2018 at 01:18:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit: Theresa May avoids withdrawal bill upset after compromising with rebel MPs, "last-minute concessions with pro-EU rebels"
if there is no agreement on Brexit between the UK and EU by November 30, MPs will have the chance to vote on a motion stipulating what should happen next.
in a tiny box with round corners labeled Britain?
Parliament also voted against challenging the government's plan to set March 29, 2019 -- or "Brexit Day" -- into law
was this supposed to be a new bank holiday?
"A meaningful vote is not the ability to reverse the decision of the referendum."
Amendment 25 - Northern Ireland: GOVERNMENT[?] WINS
MPs nod through government amendments to the Lords amendment, which required no changes to Irish border arrangements without the agreement of both the UK and Irish governments. The government amendments propose that the bar on border changes refers only to physical infrastructure.
NB. conspicuous omission of roll-call; yes, I'm not going to go look it up.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jun 12th, 2018 at 08:54:29 PM EST
Richard Seymour
Now I've long thought that the Brexit Right is, in a sense, acting something out. The effects of Brexit will in no way be to emancipate British commerce and trade in the way that they think, and it may not even significantly reduce migration levels. The whole situation is set up to leave them fundamentally dissatisfied and crying betrayal and oppression. Whatever bad 'deal' the UK is offered by the European Union, which it will take, will be treated as the political equivalent of Versailles. But it perpetuates a drama in which Britain is somehow at the centre of things, somehow very important, being paid close attention, for years to come, even in decline.

Only quoted the part about the Brexit right, but the meat of the article is a discussion of the hard Remain faction. He is not a fan.
by generic on Wed Jun 13th, 2018 at 01:49:26 AM EST
it's all sound and fury signifying nothing. Even the latest BS about the "brexit dividend" is just nonsense to make the brexiteers feel better about their idiocies inn the run up to the major collapse to come

As the twitter thread in this article makes clear;-

after today, it's going to get very sticky for brexiteers.

I'm told in the run-up to June council, Britain is going to make lots and lots of concessions to the EU to make sure progress is made at the summit. Brexiteers are about to be asked to swallow a lot

Brexit has, so far, been characterised by short term expdiency with no sign of strategy or preparation. But maybe, just maybe, the PM knows where she has to go, even if it has been forced on her by every stupid decision she's enforced up to now.

Things could get very testy cos, in the next month, one or both sides of the tory party are going to realise they've been betrayed. It's going to get very very messy

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 19th, 2018 at 08:22:49 PM EST
May betting odds

Money to be made?

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

by ATinNM on Tue Jun 19th, 2018 at 10:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
only if you know something nobody else does.

Right now, Gove is looking good but he, along with any of the other ultras, is poisonous to the soft brexit/remain wing of the party who actually form the parliamentary majority. As to the sentiments of the rest of the Tory party (who get the final say), I have absolutely no idea and anyone who claims they do is probably either lying or totally misled by Westminster gossip.

It's not even a done deal that May will fall. The ultras may have their letters of no-confidence but if they're fool enough to force a leadership contest they may be disappointed by the result. Equally, the soft brexit/remainers know that May is probably as reaonable as they'll get.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 20th, 2018 at 03:54:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems the Tories are so polarised they have no potential leader capable of uniting the party, or of even of providing a semblance of party unity. That alone may be enough to keep May in the job for some time to come.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 20th, 2018 at 03:59:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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