Back here in the real world the fact (and I use that word advisedly) is that the EU shares a 300-mile land border with the UK. If the EU and the UK wish to leave that border as it is then we have no choice but to commit to maintaining EU regulations with regards to the production of goods and services. If we don’t then the EU risks goods that do not conform, or become subject to tariffs, flooding unregulated across that border. The EU will have no choice but to install border checks, and these checks will need to be physically located on the border – remote checks will not work as smugglers do not, by definition, stick to the rules. Given that our current government has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of committing to EU regulations, then a ‘hard’ border becomes inevitable.
There are only three ways in which this could be avoided. One is to carry out those checks in the Irish Sea, as the Withdrawal Agreement suggests. However the proposed Internal Market Bill seeks to scupper that. Another would be for Ireland to leave the EU and commit to following UK regulations, which seems highly unlikely. Alternatively Northern Ireland could leave the UK and either reunite with Ireland or align itself to EU regulations as an independent country, something no Brexiteer would countenance. Sadly, until this government returns to the real world, the most likely victim looks to be the Good Friday Agreement.
As scandal after scandal is revealed and ignored, and the prospect of any kind of trade agreement with the EU disappears over the horizon, one can’t help but wonder exactly what the goals of this so-called government actually are. What kind of post-Brexit, post-COVID world is our Tory leaders trying to create? Or is it all just down to greed and corruption?
Perhaps the answer becomes clearer if we stop thinking of Johnson, Raab, Hancock et al as leaders of our country and instead think of them as board members of a corporation that is the Tory Party. Boris is CEO, Sunak is CFO and so forth.
As such, the goal of this corporation is the same as that of any corporation: namely to maximise return to its shareholders. We might fondly imagine these shareholders to be the citizens of this country, or perhaps the taxpayers, but that is to misunderstand the situation. As with any corporation, the shareholders are those who have invested in the company: namely those who have donated to the party. And as with any corporation, the primary motivation of the Tory Party is to maximise their return. Look at it from that perspective and much becomes clear.
The strategy of the Tories with regards to Brexit is quite clear. The idea that they might negotiate a withdrawal agreement that will satisfy both their heavily Brexiteer membership and the EU within the next few weeks is laughable. Instead they are concentrating on winning an election which they would like to take place as soon as possible after we ‘drop out’ of the EU with no agreement in place on 31 October.
Their slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ is based on the misleading idea that, once Brexit is ‘done’, we will be able to ‘move on’ to more pressing domestic matters, such as hospitals and schools and whatever else their ‘magic money tree’ will pay for. What this disguises is that, on 1 November, some 50% of our overseas trade and 8% of our GDP will still be dependant on the EU which means we will be entering into urgent trade negotiations which could easily last decades. Instead of being ‘done’, Brexit will only just have started.
This is why the Tories want an election as soon as possible, before the full impact of a ‘hard’ Brexit becomes clear, and while the bruising run-up is still fresh in the mind. In the meantime the Tories are intent on portraying Parliament, now dominated by opposition parties, as the culprit.
What is sad is that Remainers seem intent on helping them. If they had not challenged the proroguing of Parliament then Parliament would not be sitting, and the Tories would have no-one to blame for the mess but themselves. We also would not have had what the Tories have quite successfully (and not without justification) branded the ‘Surrender Bill’ sitting there ready to take the blame.
What Remainers should be doing is questioning the Tories about what our relationship with our biggest trading partner is likely to be from November onward, and asking them how they expect to pay for their spending extravaganza. Instead that bastion of the liberal elite Andrew Marr wasted the morning quizzing Boris Johnson about his relationship with the lovely Ms Arcuri, and his colourful use of language, neither of which concern a large chunk of the British electorate.
So looks like we’re going to be faced with a general election which will effectively be a second referendum, and a Tory party that has successfully positioned themselves as ‘champions of the people’. And so it goes.
Posted in Politics
So far there seems to be little discussion as to what is actually going to happen after the 31 October deadline passes, so I thought I’d have a go at working out the possibilites. At the moment it looks like there are three:
1. We gain an extension to negotiations
Matters continue as they stand, although the credibility of the Tory Party, and in particular Boris Johnson, evaporates.
2. We leave the EU with a deal
Given the short time left, this would be a deal negotiated by Boris Johnson’s current minority government, and a deal that Parliament is happy to accept. Even if this is possible, the resulting ‘deal’ is only a withdrawal agreement. Once that’s settled we will start negotiating the trade deal itself, the deal which will eventually establish the terms under which we trade with the EU in every sector, from fishing to financial services, from agriculture to personal data. Negotiating such a wide-ranging trade deal is likely to tie up government business for many years to come. Continue reading
Posted in Politics
Recent events have brought to mind an old joke that goes something like this. It involves two vessels approaching each other on a collision course:
“Please make way! You are obstructing our passage through the open seas.”
“Regretfully we are unable to comply. I’m afraid it is you that must make way.”
“We are a battleship of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy! We represent the glorious British Empire and all who sail in her! Brexit means Brexit! You must make way immediately!!”
“We are a lighthouse.”
I understand that Dominic Raab and Michel Barnier have at last cobbled together a trade deal that has proved, after a somewhat fraught five-hour meeting, acceptable to the cabinet. There will inevitably be some hiccups on the way (such as the resignation of said Raab, announced as I write) but it seems to me that its future course can be mapped out with some confidence. Continue reading
Posted in Politics
You can learn an awful lot about Brexit from chlorinated chicken.
The term itself refers to the process of dipping fresh chicken carcasses into water containing chlorine dioxide just prior to packaging in an effort to kill off any potentially dangerous organisms such as E. coli or Salmonella that might be present. It is a process that is legal in the United States, but not permitted within the European Union where farmers are allowed to wash raw meat in precious little other than fresh water. For this reason it is not permissible to import fresh chicken from the US into the EU. Continue reading
Posted in Politics
We should by now be well accustomed to the capacity of our politicians to spout endless bullshit, and of our news services to take such bullshit seriously. However seldom has that bullshit seemed more endless and pointless than in the current Brexit ‘debate’.
For example, as I write, so-called Brexiteers are crowing over the fact that the British economy seems to be booming, despite the woeful predictions of the Remoaners. This is to ignore the fact that we have a least two years to go before we do actually Brexit, and no idea of what that will actually involve, rendering any judgement at this stage utterly meaningless. Instead, what our economy is currently experiencing is the reaction of the world to the inevitable uncertainty that surrounds our decision to do so. Continue reading
Posted in Politics