Latest post of the previous page:
+1Alan H wrote:Please feel free to list any significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU you can think of.Nick wrote:Glad you agree! benefits are obvious, when you think of it!Alan H wrote: Indeed.
Latest post of the previous page:
+1Alan H wrote:Please feel free to list any significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU you can think of.Nick wrote:Glad you agree! benefits are obvious, when you think of it!Alan H wrote: Indeed.
It is one of the great ironies of Brexit that the United Kingdom’s messy divorce from Europe, sold as an effort to reclaim parliamentary sovereignty, has instead delivered its opposite. Last Monday, the House of Commons voted in the early stages of the European Union Withdrawal Bill to give the government sweeping powers to make laws without parliamentary scrutiny. These powers are named after Henry VIII, England’s most authoritarian monarch, but they in fact bear a greater resemblance to Hitler’s Enabling Act of 1933, which allowed the Fuhrer to bypass the Reichstag and govern by proclamation.
Allusions to Nazi Germany are generally overwrought, but this is no exaggeration: Prime Minister Theresa May does not have an absolute majority in the British Parliament, just as Hitler didn’t in the Reichstag in 1933, which is why she has been forced to resort to his strategy. If the withdrawal bill is passed as it stands, May will be able to make laws by decree and reverse and adapt primary legislation without consulting Parliament. It is the greatest attack on the British constitution in at least a century. Parliamentary sovereignty—the very thing that Brexiteers said they were voting for in leaving the E.U.—may be about to be vastly reduced by a cabal of right-wing Conservatives who say they are obeying the people’s will. Such power grabs, of course, are always done in the name of the people. The full title of the 1933 Enabling Act was “The law to remedy the distress of the people and the state.”
The derangement of Theresa May’s minority government in the United Kingdom is something to behold, and it is also more than a little frightening. Even in the America of Donald Trump, there has not yet been any real attempt, save a few controversial executive orders, to strip Congress of its powers. But in Britain—the Mother of Parliaments, according to the Victorian reformer John Bright—we stand idly by as May attempts to neutralize our elected representatives. It seems incredible to me that I am reporting on this, but even more alarming is that there is so little concern expressed by the majority of the press and the generally acquiescent BBC. The point is that after the referendum last year, and despite the poor result in the General Election, the right-wing of the Conservative Party has continued traveling in an increasingly undemocratic direction and has, so far, swept all before it. The normally rather sober Hansard Society, an organization dedicated to promoting and strengthening democracy, has called the “broad scope of the powers in the Bill, the inadequate constraints placed on them, and the shortcoming in the proposed parliamentary control of them” a “toxic mix” that will undermine Parliament’s ability to hold May to account or to meliorate the most damaging policies arising from Brexit.
MPs are so caught up in the madness of Brexit that, for the most part, they cannot see the power grab for what it is. Fears are expressed and noble speeches given but in the dead of night on Monday, MPs voted by 326 to 290, giving May an effective majority of 36. This included seven members of the Labor opposition, who astonishingly defied their party, which has just begun to soften its line on Brexit so as to accommodate increasing worries about the economy, employment and workers’ rights. These seven Labor members—Ronnie Campbell (age 74), Frank Field (75), Kate Hoey (71), Kelvin Hopkins (76), John Mann (57), Dennis Skinner (85) and Graham Stringer (67) have an average age of 72, which underlines a truth about the Brexit vote and the lurch to the right in Britain. They are the product of something profound going on among an older generation, even among some left-wingers. These people yearn for a past that does not exist and they do not give one solitary damn for the future of young people who will be forced to inherit the economic mess.
The nostalgic, selfish gene exists on both the right and left in British politics, which is what makes a hard Brexit much more likely, and also, incidentally, politics more difficult to read. Naturally, there are older politicians on both sides of the House who warn about the dangers to democracy contained in the bill, one being the veteran Conservative Kenneth Clark, but at base the great divide in Britain is between generations. The question is how much damage the older generation does before being replaced by younger people who are generally more accepting of immigration, do not revere Britain’s “heroic” past, and are part of a connected world that views national borders as less and less important. Withdrawing from Europe in the way proposed by the Brexit project is destructive to the economy and damaging to democracy but it is also simply unrealistic, as perhaps Theresa May (60) and her chief Brexit minister David Davis (68) will one day come to realize.
Still, the situation in Parliament is very serious. MPs mutter about waiting for the right moment to oppose the government, but the truth is that the energy is all with the anti-democratic side, the one that keeps citing the People’s will but wants to remove power from the People’s representatives. The whole of the Executive is now focused on diminishing the role of MPs and taking the country out of the European Union, come what may, in 18 months’ time. There is literally nothing else of note being debated in Parliament. Brexit sits like a massive weather system over the United Kingdom, draining energy from its national life and politics.
Some take hope from the leader of the Labor party’s new position, which is to suggest that Britain might retain access to the European Single Market, but this is absurd, if not totally incoherent. Keeping access to the market of half a billion people means that Britain would have to respect its regulations without having any influence on making them. The U.K. would place itself at a disadvantage without any gain. And on immigration there would be no benefit. Britain already has control of its borders, while the myths about Britain being overrun by foreigners are slowly being exposed by leaks. Two weeks ago, a leaked report showed that the vast majority of students (97 percent) and those who visit Britain on work and visitor visas return home when their time is up. It is shameful that this was not published before the referendum and probably gives as good a reading of May’s true political instincts as anything else. Her government is sitting on 50 separate Brexit impact studies, which it refuses to allow the public to see before Britain leaves the E.U.
All the government’s efforts are devoted to closing down debate and ramming laws through parliament without scrutiny. Over the fall, as this dangerous bill progresses, we will see whether Parliamentarians on both sides of the house have the mettle to fight for the independence of one of the oldest democratic systems in the world.
A few days ago there were a couple of significant speeches in the House of Lords. The upper chamber of parliament was holding a short general debate on the UK and the EU. This is worth reading. Most of the contributions were of high quality but these two stood out.
One speech was from Lord Kerr, the UK’s former ambassador to the EU, perhaps the ultimate UK/EU insider. The other was from Lord Bridges, until recently a minister in the Department of Exiting the EU. If Lord Kerr can be dismissed as a remoaning remainer, Lord Bridges certainly cannot. That is why the combined message of the speeches is important.
But there was another important speech this week, to another parliament. This was the annual speech by Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, to the European Parliament, which is rather grandiloquently called the “state of the union address”. You can watch and read it here.
The speech is long but it seems to go out of its way not to mention Brexit. The one explicit reference is:
“On 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. This will be a very sad and tragic moment. We will always regret it. But we have to respect the will of the British people.”
Maybe the intention was to emphasise how unimportant, in relative terms, Brexit is to the work of the EU. But the impression it gives me is that Mr Juncker is trying a little too hard. A more business-like approach would have been to been to have regard to Brexit in passing, not as a priority but as one of many important things facing the union.
There is nothing new in the quoted passage in any case. The first sentence is a basic statement of the legal position: by operation of Article 50, that will be the automatic date of the UK’s departure (unless another is agreed). The regret and sadness then expressed has been a theme of statements by EU figures since the referendum result. And the acceptance of the referendum decision as final was first made when the poll was announced in February 2016.
The significance of Mr Juncker’s speech is that the commission believes it can get away with such an approach at this stage. Its primary audience is the EU27. This is all those in charge of the EU’s side of Brexit negotiations feel they need to say on the subject. And the snub discomforts no one but the UK.
Meanwhile, Lord Kerr’s speech is worth reading in its entirety. (You can read it here in context.)
“My Lords, I want to make three points.
First, there was a document on citizens’ rights that we put forward in the negotiations in June. That was a genuine negotiating document. None of the documents since is a negotiating document. None of the documents we are talking about today gives the negotiators anything to get their teeth into. They are lists, options, essays — some are rather interesting little essays — but clearly they are aimed mainly at a domestic audience and the aim is to avoid any new outburst of disagreement in the party. So they do not say anything.
“My second point is that this is counterproductive. The papers have gone down rather badly in Brussels. On 31 August, Mr Barnier said:
“The UK wants to take back control, it wants to adopt its own standards and regulations. But it also wants to have these standards recognised automatically in the EU. That is what UK papers ask for. This is simply impossible”.
“A further cause of doubt in Brussels is the confusion between what we say and what we do. If it is the case that, as the CBI and the TUC want, the Government now think that the right course — at least for an interim period — is to stay inside the single market and possibly the customs union, there is a real negotiation to be had. Why do the Government publish a withdrawal Bill that eliminates completely the umpire of the single market — the European Court of Justice — on Brexit day? You cannot say, “I want to play in your game, but I don’t respect the umpire”. If we want to stay in the customs unions, why does somebody not switch off Dr Fox? There is an inconsistency inside the Government. We need them to come forward with a clear, achievable objective and then with precise negotiating proposals which would get us towards that objective. They need to avoid actions and speeches that are inconsistent with it.
“Thirdly, the worst feature of the papers we are talking about is that there is not one on money. I agree that the bill that the European Union — the 27 — has presented is grossly inflated. Of course it is. It is far higher than the first draft which Mr Barnier produced. Do not attack Mr Barnier: it is the member states that inflated the bill.
“I agree that the decision on sequencing that the European Council took was the wrong one. It is a pity that their position is, “Agree on the money before we talk about anything else”. I understand why they reached that decision. It is because they had heard too many people in this country saying that we were just going to do a runner and they could whistle for the money. That is why they said, “You’ve got to show us sufficient progress on money before we move on”. That was a mistake, but we are where we are.
“Unless we have put forward counterproposals on money and a real negotiation has started, it is not conceivable that next month’s European Council could conclude that sufficient progress has been made.
“I have one final point to add. All these papers describe — in rather optimistic, aspirational terms — a special relationship or special partnership with the European Union, which we will have left. The European Union runs on law. If there is no agreement on money — if we go to a court of arbitration to settle a dispute over real or alleged legal commitments — there will be no agreements on anything. The European Union will be unable to conclude agreements on anything. The special partnership will not exist and all these little papers will be so much waste paper. We need to put some money on the table and start a real negotiation. If we do not, we are risking the cliff edge— no relationship at all — and that would be very bad indeed.”
Lord Kerr is credited with drafting Article 50, and this blog has been (playfully) critical of that drafting, saying Article 50 was clearly written by diplomats and not lawyers. But when it comes to practical negotiation documents his insights and expertise are unmatched.
His three points about the negotiation documents, that the UK’s efforts to date are (generally) weak, counter-productive and missing the key money issue, are unfortunately true. As this blog noted in November 2016, the UK government seems to see the real negotiation as with the UK press and its political supporters rather than with the EU. This is especially true of the “future relationship” papers, which are not directly required for the current exit negotiations.
Lord Kerr’s more general point is about the failure so far for there to be sufficient progress in the negotiations. He says what is being said by the EU negotiators, especially Michel Barnier. The question for the UK is whether this is true, or if it is self-pleading by supporters of the union. But Lord Kerr’s open criticism of the EU on the sequencing issue, which the UK conceded at the start of the talks despite promising the “row of the summer” to oppose it, adds credibility to his view.
Lord Bridges’ speech should also be read in full (t is here). He was a junior minister at DexEU from its foundation but resigned at the general election. The striking passage is this one:
“First, an observation: faced with any challenge, one must acknowledge the truth. If we are not honest with ourselves, our plans will be built on sand. Consequently, we will lose the trust of those who look to us for leadership, and those with whom we are negotiating. We must be honest about the task we face — its complexity and scale. We must be honest about the need to compromise and about the lack of time that we, and Europe, have to come to an agreement on our withdrawal.”
This is strong stuff from a former Brexit minister. It is also reminiscent of the resignation email of former senior Brexit official Sir Ivan Rogers to his staff, in January, who said:
“Senior ministers, who will decide on our positions, issue by issue, also need from you detailed, unvarnished — even where this is uncomfortable — and nuanced understanding of the views, interests and incentives of the other 27.”
For a former Brexit minister to say out loud in parliament that there needs to be honesty in so many aspects of the UK’s departure from the EU is remarkable. The implication is that there has not been sufficient honesty.
All three speeches, from the perspectives of the EU, from the pro-EU UK establishment and from a former Brexit minister, reveal the nature of the current difficulties. The EU is losing interest (as is described in this excellent piece by Guntram Wolff), and sees Brexit as a done thing; the UK is not engaging properly and is trying to persuade the wrong people; and the UK is not being honest with itself.
Now there is to be another speech. Prime Minister Theresa May is to make one in Florence next week. (Florence, of course, is where the populist Savonarola had his hubristic Bonfire of the Vanities, before his supporters tired of his misdirections and burned him instead.)
To which of the three speeches discussed above will Mrs May’s one be, in effect, a rejoinder? All of them? Any? Will it deal with any of the issues raised? Or will it be a British politician demanding the same things as before, speaking loudly and slowly in English, with accompanying hand gestures? Will it be yet another unforced error by Mrs May, to join the many others?
One interesting thing about Brexit is that political speeches matter again. The medium was not destroyed by the no-verb sentences of Tony Blair. Speeches are worth reading again, not just for what they say but also for what they do not say. And with Brexit, the latter is often as crucial as the former.
...or at all.MPs have launched an inquiry into the state of Brexit negotiations after the latest round ended in recriminations about a lack of progress.
The Exiting the EU Select Committee will explore the strategy of the UK Government as well as whether it has the capability to manage the process effectively.
John Lewis profits have more than halved amid rising prices and weaker consumer demand prompted by Brexit.
In an update for the first six months of its financial year, the group, which owns Waitrose supermarkets as well as the John Lewis department store chain, said it expected the tough retail climate to continue throughout this year as UK consumers were less willing to spend money against a backdrop of higher inflation and political uncertainty.
As the government prepares for a fourth round of Brexit negotiations with the EU, the John Lewis chairman, Sir Charlie Mayfield, said uncertainty was being throughout the economy and a “serious” parliamentary debate about Brexit was now essential.
The head of the UK tax authority has warned that border and tax checks post Brexit could require an extra 5,000 staff with new customs checks costing the taxpayer up to £800m.
HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson warned that could take between five and seven years to get a new streamlined system to deal with imports and exports in place.
He told the Treasury select committee he was most concerned about the Dover- Calais route which cannot accommodate expanded customs checks warning it would take just two hours of disruption for “everything to stop”.
Asked which ports had the greatest potential for disruption, he pointed to the Eurotunnel system between Britain and France, saying: “Our major concern is the closed loop system that is between Dover and Calais, it is the area where we are focusing most.
“The situation on the other side of the Channel is more problematic,” said Thompson.
He said that while concerns have widely centred on Operation Stack – a traffic management tactic that requires lorries to park on Kent motorways when channel crossing is disrupted – there was “equally a risk of a French Operation Stack because you can’t get through Calais to get to Dover”.
Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels.
Liam Fox keeps saying that the UK will be able to make fantastic new trade deals with the rest of the world. This is another false promise by the Brexit brigade.
Our international trade secretary cannot legally negotiate any free trade deal until after withdrawal has happened. But Fox has still been able to explore the prospects – and they are not looking good.
Winston Churchill famously surveyed the dramatically altered landscape of Europe after the Great War and claimed that “as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again.” The Brexiteers forgot the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone as they waged their glorious European war in last year’s referendum. But as the deluge of euphoria subsides, their bells are sounding a wake-up call.
The government might stumble on, like some executive zombie, but it will do permanent damage to the careers of those associated with it. Take its three chief actions this week: Stuffing the repeal bill with ministerial powers, rigging the committee system and awarding a one per cent pay rise to police and prison staff.
Put aside the relative decency of the policies in and of themselves. They all share a specific quality: They do not do the thing they are presented as doing.
The repeal bill is supposed to return power from a shadowy technocratic Brussels and return it to parliament. In actual fact, it eradicates the scrutiny of law which takes place at the EU parliament, then carries those powers over the heads of MPs and hands them to ministers. It is against parliamentary scrutiny, not for it.
The committee motion whitewashes the general election result, by building in a government advantage to the mechanisms of parliament. The prime minister who went to the country banging on about the 'will of the people' now uses obscure political initiatives to ensure she doesn't have to recognise it.
The decision to award a limited public sector pay rise is presented as a move away from austerity, but the raise is below inflation, which came in at 2.9% this week, and will anyway use money from existing budgets - meaning there will have to be cuts to other parts of the service. This isn't an end to austerity, it's a demand that services change the area being hit. Politically, it is a classic self-harming fudge: You confuse the public about your approach to an issue and do nothing to neutralise your opponent.
In each case, we're reliably informed that people don't read enough detail to notice this stuff. You do, because you're the kind of person who visits specialist political websites. But your average voter just glances at a headline. Maybe. But polls suggest people now prize integrity above other values, such as strength. They want politicians to be genuine and stick to their convictions. Even without all the details of how a standing committee works, or what a statutory instrument is, they hear the mood music: of a government doing the opposite of what it says it is doing, of shady moves in late night votes, of small-print politics.
After all, there is no other story to tell. The government has no message, no purpose, no reason to exist except the muscle memory of wanting to remain in power. It's like hair growing on the scalp of a corpse. There is simply no political agenda at all, on education, or health, or social care, or the economy, or transport. On anything. Theresa May can't deliver it.
There is only Brexit. That is the sole function of government. But even here there is really no clarity. Philip Hammond is not working in the same government as Liam Fox in any meaningful way, no matter how many joint bylines they put out. There's no consistent Cabinet view on immigration or trade or customs or court jurisdiction or the withdrawal bill. The Fox-types clearly want some US-based, laissez-faire, low-standards, free market system detached from the EU. The Hammond-types clearly want some kind of bespoke EEA-type arrangement where the UK has equivalency with the Europeans in most of the economy. They don't agree on where they're going and they have no idea how to get there.
And then at the top is May. A prime minister without authority is like a chair with no legs. It can't fulfill its function. There is no use for it.
Ironically, she does actually have a vision for Britain. It is a mean, ignorant vision, but it is undeniably a vision. She just can't enforce it, because she has no authority. Even her allies in the Tory party scoffed when she said she'd continue. She is a political shield, held up by those who would replace her, whose only function is take the damage for an insane policy they refuse to deviate from.
On hard Brexit you either compromise, and are torn apart by the right-wing press at home, or you do not, and you are torn apart by the forces of reality abroad. There are no other options. So they allow her to stay as long as she is torn apart rather than them.
And that's how you get to where we are - a government with no policies, consciously implementing a grand act of national self-harm, whose only other actions are to try and stitch together a constitutional arrangement which allows them to prolong the cycle. The individual news stories might pass people by, but the drip-feed of nihilism and scheming self-interest which this government produces will make its mark. Those involved in it are unlikely to ever escape the reputation it earns them.
I don't know, but I think he is probably more difficult to get along with than the EU commissioners. He certainly doesn't seem to have recognised the corruption and other criticisms of the Greek economy. He is too left-wing for me to trust and of the two (he or the EU), I think I would trust the EU, even though they seem to have been harder on Greece than the IMF.Nick wrote:I have plenty of disagreements with Varoufakis, but I think his analysis of the attitude of the EU is spot on. How about you?Zeff wrote:You think Mr Varoufakis has any answers? I believe you also think the drop in £Sterling due to Brexit isn't large and damaging.Nick wrote:From the Sunday Times
As for the drop in sterling, the amount of damage or benefit remains to be seen. We saw a similar drop after White Wednesday when we left the ERM, which was followed by continuous growth, right up until the Credit Crunch, And sterling recovered to a higher level than the level at which we left the ERM. In a few months the one-off reaction to the Brexit vote will fall out of account, we may see a rise in interest rates, so who knows?
Boris Johnson has penned a 4000 word piece about Brexit for The Telegraph (Update: now posted to Facebook as well). It’s a premium piece on their site for some reason and you have to hence register to read it – I did that, and have read it, and this blog is the result of analysing it paragraph by paragraph. Bear in mind however that this is not a fisk in the classic sense – there is so much waffle in the piece I cannot take apart every single paragraph. So think of this as a kind of fisk of the best and worst of it.
Also – as a summary of sorts – there is little new in Boris’s piece. He is committed to hard Brexit. He says nothing about transition periods. He makes nice noises but says nothing of substance on citizens rights. And he fills out the rest of the 4000 words with nationalist guff.
Firefighters were summoned to a giant pants fire this morning after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson repeated his £350M NHS Brexit claim.
The emergency services responded rapidly with numerous units, including ladders and axes and lots of foam, and are said to be currently attempting to control the blaze before London itself catches flame. Helicopter units are also responding, busy collecting water from the Thames to drop on top of the blonde buffoon.
The Rochdale Herald’s Liar Liar correspondent rushed along in the wake of the fast moving fire units to report exclusively from the scene.
“A large blonde man on a bike is currently riding in circles with fire blazing from his pants and a copy of the The Daily Torygraph gripped in his ham fists.” Our correspondent states. “Emergency democracy units are attempting to put out the massive fire coming from him but he just keeps spouting more lies and adding fuel to the flame.”
Concerns are rising that the fire may ignite the Conservative Party in a blazing leadership election as the swivelled eyed Brexit loons become increasingly concerned Chancellor Phil is slowly boring sense into Theresa May in unison with reality.
It’s thought the fire in Mr Johnson’s pants has been deliberately started in an attempt to burn away any bridge back to sense and protection of basic fundamentals that just about stop the right wing billionaires from completing fleecing the country into a total zero hours low wage tax haven desolation zone.
“If London catches fire again the entire country may burn down. It’s imperative Mr Johnson’s pants fire is extinguished before he can spread the blaze through the cabinet.”
Theresa May was said to be personally leading the firefighting effort by alternatively throwing fuel on the fire and and then turning in circles desperately phoning her diminishing circle of supporters for help.
Meanwhile the rest of Europe is said to be gathering sticks with which to impale giant marshmallows to heat up and devour in the flames.
I couldn’t make it to the March For Europe last Saturday; perhaps this dereliction of duty means my Remoaner licence has now been revoked and I must now be demoted to Regrumbler or Rewhiner.
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But, it just so happens, I think the weekend’s events may have rendered all such terms obsolete. I’ll explain:
Some bright spark at the March had the idea of swinging by the Royal Albert Hall just as the crowd for the Last Night Of the Proms was being admitted and handing out hundreds of blue and gold EU flags to the assembled concert goers, to be waved alongside the more traditionally brandished Union Flags during the patriotic finale (yes, “Flags”; it’s only properly referred to as the Union Jack when flown in a naval capacity, and I’m nothing if not consistent in my pedantry).
I’m not sure what the take-up rate was for these flags but whatever it was, it proved too much for the gossamer sensibilities of the Daily Express, which managed to rouse itself wanly from its fainting couch the next day to fulminate at how the event had been “hijacked by remoaners”. Because after all, the concert hall named in honour of Queen Victoria’s beloved German husband is no place to start demonstrating in favour of maintaining links with the continent.
Speaking of marrying Germans, Farage The Unflushable soon weighed in on the issue, accusing the EU flag-wavers of being “in denial” about the referendum result. Presumably the same denial that he himself pledged to immerse himself in during the evening of June 23 last year, when early counts made it look like we were heading for a narrow Remain victory, and he vowed to “fight on” if such were indeed the case. Perhaps it’s only “denial” when it’s the Remoaners doing it.
But hang on a minute...
Who’s “moaning” now?
Were those who waved their blue and gold flags alongside their red white and blue flags in the Albert Hall “moaning”? Or were they celebrating the fact that they, like roughly half the population of the country, recognise that there’s no contradiction or indeed even conflict between having pride in one’s Britishness and also in being European? Were those who took to the streets on Saturday “moaning”, or simply exhibiting exactly the kind of defiance the Leavers had sworn to show if the vote had gone the other way?
Read this paper; are we “moaning”? Or are we rather making the positive case for Britain’s continued participation in the European experiment, while observing that the “case” for leaving, such as it ever was, has been long since discredited, not least from the mouths of its own proponents?
When we flag up the sheer inadequacy of the government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations, is that “moaning”, or alarm? There’s a lot of moaning going on about Brexit, to be sure, but it’s not coming from our side.
The Brexiteers moan when British people eagerly wave the EU flag precisely because they choose to do it. The flags weren’t pressed into their unwilling hands by thugs from Brussels, their Union Flags weren’t confiscated, they weren’t instructed to wave the EU flag by BBC floor managers, whatever the Daily Mail letters page might think (in fact, the BBC technicians had a large Ring O’Stars which a concertgoer had draped over the balcony removed). The people – that’s The People, whose will is absolute, remember – chose to wave those flags. Funny how The People are ineffably wise as long as they appear to support the Brexit agenda but become a treasonous rabble the minute they stop playing ball.
The Brexiteers, as I pointed out last week, moan like hell that the Remainers refuse to get on board with their insane project and continue instead to raise pettyfogging objections like “It’ll bankrupt the country, reduce our international influence to nil and possibly start a civil war in Ireland”.
They moan, as did our old pal Julia Hartley Brewer on Twitter last week: “Soooo many Remoaner bores on my timeline tonight. Don’t they ever take a night off from despising democracy?”
Two obvious responses came to mind: firstly, the “unfollow” button is right there, Jules. Unless you’ve already purged all the vocal Remainers from your timeline and it’s still full of anti-Brexit tweets in which case what does that tell you, and secondly; Wait, WHO “despises democracy”?
This week the government’s Withdrawal Bill represents just the most recent – and blatant – attempt to bypass and/or subvert the sovereignty of Parliament since the referendum. That looks a lot more like “despising democracy” than calling for the people to be consulted on Brexit after they’ve had a chance to discover what it actually entails.
The Brexiteers perverted democracy last June by bombarding the voters with lies and knowingly false promises and they’ve been running and hiding from “democracy” ever since. And now, as the lies are exposed, their case lies in tatters and whatever victory they won is left hollow, all they have left is insults, and moaning. So. Much. Moaning.
So, for all that we successfully “reclaimed” it quite early on in proceedings I’ve decided I’m not going to use the word “Remoaner” any more, not even ironically. We’re REMAINERS. We’re not whining. We’re winning.
“At the moment, I’m not optimistic that it will be possible to come to the view in October that we are able to move onto the next phase in talks.”
Those were the comments made by Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a Fine Gael conference in Co Tipperary yesterday.
The Irish Government has the power to prevent the talks progressing and it seems that patience is running thin over the progress so far.
Mr Varadkar was adamant that he is not going to allow the status quo to continue unless real progress is being made. “The guidelines that we set out as European heads of government was that we want to see special progress, not just on issues relating to Ireland where there has been quite a lot of progress actually, but also on the financial settlement and citizens rights. As of now, enough progress hasn’t been made for us to go onto the next phase of talks”.
Nine Tory MPs have backed a move to ensure so-called 'Henry VIII powers' do not last longer than needed
Ministers could cling to sweeping powers allowing them to change laws without Parliament for many years after Brexit, unless Theresa May re-writes her EU withdrawal Bill.
Despite claims the far-reaching powers being granted to ministers will expire two years after Brexit, the bill’s small print allows the Government to effectively choose how long they stay in place.
The Prime Minster faces a push from Tory MPs demanding a clearer date for the termination of the “Henry VIII powers” – so called because they allow ministers to rule by proclamation.
What is now known as “cakeism” – the idea that the UK can have everything it wants merely because it wants it – is becoming, like climate-change denial, the subject of rational discussion. Brexit has made us members of the unique and dreadful club of those who sit in the psychiatrist’s chair of nations: the United States, North Korea, Russia and the Philippines.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill takes our laws, made in Parliament, and puts them at the mercy of the pens of people for whom leaving the EU is a mission and an obsession. That is why Michel Barnier and his associates can find no coherence. Coherence does not exist within a dream.
Boris Johnson has again been reprimanded by the UK statistics chief for reiterating the highly controversial claim that Britain pays £350m a week to the EU.