Sunday, 28 January 2018

Brexit does not mean Brexit Mrs May

Since my post of 27th January 2018, I have been pointed to another European Union publication (h/t "Britainsfish") which is on the internet here: (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:e0727eef-e727-11e7-9749-01aa75ed71a1.0003.02/DOC_2&format=PDF

This document has been amended for the Final Version which has been leaked (h/t "Sentinel") and which has been analysed by Professor Steve Peers here (http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/phase-2-of-brexit-talks-annotation-of.html?m=1)

Paragraphs 9 - 21 deal with "Transitional Arrangements". Paragraph 9 specifically says
the four freedoms of the Single Market are indivisible and there can be no "cherry picking"
which would not be the case if we had chosen the European Economic Area route and unilaterally invoked Article 112.  Then there are paragraphs 12 - 18 which are so awful that I quote them in full:

12. In line with those guidelines, which further specify and develop the core principles laid out in the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017, any transitional arrangements provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement should cover the whole of the Union acquis, including Euratom matters. Notwithstanding paragraph 17 of these negotiating directives, the Union acquis should apply to and in the United Kingdom as if it were a Member State. Any changes to the Union acquis should automatically apply to and in the United Kingdom during the transition period. For acts adopted in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice by which the United Kingdom is bound before its withdrawal, Articles 4a of Protocol (No 21) and 5 of Protocol (No 19) annexed to the Treaties, which allow the United Kingdom not to participate in an act amending a measure by which it is already bound, should continue to apply during the transition period including the possibility for the Union to determine that this non participation would make the relevant measure inoperable and therefore that the measure should cease to apply to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom should however no longer be allowed to opt-in to measures in this Area other than those amending, replacing or building upon the above mentioned existing acts. 

13. During the transition period, Union law covered by these transitional arrangements should deploy in the United Kingdom the same legal effects as those which it deploys within the Member States of the Union. This means, in particular, that the direct effect and primacy of Union law should be preserved. 

14. During the transition period, and in line with the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017, the United Kingdom will remain bound by the obligations stemming from the agreements concluded by the Union, or by Member States acting on its behalf, or by the Union and its Member States acting jointly, while the United Kingdom should however no longer participate in any bodies set up by those agreements. 

15. In line with the European Council guidelines of 15 December 2017, any transitional arrangements require the United Kingdom's continued participation in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition. The United Kingdom should take all necessary measures to preserve the integrity of the Single Market and of the Customs Union. The United Kingdom should continue to comply with the Union trade policy. It should also in particular ensure that its customs authorities continue to act in accordance with the mission of EU customs authorities including by collecting Common Customs Tariff duties and by performing all checks required under Union law at the border vis-à-vis other third countries. During the transition period, the United Kingdom may not become bound by international agreements entered into in its own capacity in the fields of competence of Union law, unless authorised to do so by the Union.

16. In line with the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017 and the first set of negotiating directives of 22 May 2017, any time-limited prolongation of the Union acquis requires existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures to apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

17. In relation to the application of the Union acquis to the United Kingdom, the Withdrawal Agreement should therefore, during the transitional period, preserve the full competences of the Union institutions (in particular the full jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union), bodies, offices and agencies in relation to the United Kingdom and to United Kingdom natural or legal persons. In particular, Union institutions, bodies and agencies should conduct all supervision and control proceedings foreseen by Union law. In line with the European Council guidelines of 15 December 2017, the United Kingdom will however no longer participate in or nominate or elect members of the Union institutions, nor participate in the decision-making or the governance of the Union bodies, offices and agencies. 
18. During the transition period, as a general rule, the UK will not attend meetings of committees referred to in Article 3 (2) of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 or Commission experts groups and other similar entities of the agencies, offices or bodies where Member States are represented. Exceptionally on a case-by-case basis, the United Kingdom could be invited to attend without voting rights such meetings: 

– where the discussion concerns individual acts to be addressed to the United Kingdom or to United Kingdom natural or legal persons; or 

– where the presence of the United Kingdom is necessary from a Union perspective for the effective implementation of the acquis during the transition period.
It is hard to state just how dreadful these proposals are. In effect, the Acquis, New laws and Directives, the Customs Union and EU trade policy (meaning the UK cannot conclude any trade agreements in its own right) will continue to apply whilst the United Kingdom will have no representation of any kind whatever (No MEP's, No Commissioner, No participation in any agreements or committees although we could be invited by the commission to various committees as it (the Commission) sees fit but without a say or vote). The United Kingdom will still be subject to the ECJ and European Law will have primacy (over UK Law)

David Davis (h/t www.eureferendum.com) made a speech in Teeside. Part of it reads as follows:
For such a period to work, both sides must continue to follow the same, stable set of laws and rules
Without compromising the integrity of the single market, and the customs union to which we will maintain access on current terms. 
Maintaining the same regulations across all sectors of the economy — from agriculture to aviation, transport to financial services, as part of a new international treaty. 
In keeping with the existing structure of EU rules that will allow a strictly time-limited role for the European Court of Justice during that period. 
During this implementation period, people will of course be able to travel between the UK and EU to live and work. 
And as agreed in December, we will fulfil the financial commitments we have made during the period of our membership. 
With Britain upholding its responsibilities during this period, it follows the European Union will need to respect our rights and our interests too. 
And this means we must discuss how regulators and agencies can best provide continuity and clarity for businesses during this period in a way that benefits everyone. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/david-davis-teesport-speech-implementation-period-a-bridge-to-the-future-partnership-between-the-uk-eu)

So there you have it. We will not have left the European Union at the end of March 2019. We will not have any MEP's, Commissioner or any representation on any committee or any other body and be subject to the ECJ. The United Kingdom will become a Vassal State  It seems the Cabinet, of which Mr Davis is a member, will sign up to this disgrace.

Everything has changed; Everything has changed

Brexit does not mean Brexit Mrs May. The United Kingdom will not have left the European Union until at least 31st December 2020 and since Mrs May's 'deep and special' relationship (which she has so far been unable or unwilling to describe) with the European Union will not have been concluded by then (since Free Trade Agreements with other nations have taken the European Union many years to conclude) it may go on longer than that taking us into the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) period and contributing to EU coffers for another SEVEN years. 

We would be a continuing Vassal State for far longer than 21 months.

This is intolerable and the electorate must not accept it.

There are local elections in May. All Leave voters must vote tactically to get rid of their Conservative Councillors or to ensure that the Conservative does not get elected. If the Conservatives are wiped out completely they might, just might listen to the electorate. 

The United Kingdom is not leaving the European Union. Mrs May is misleading the people and Brexit does not mean Brexit.


Saturday, 27 January 2018

EEA (European Economic Area) not Vassal State

The Conservative party position as presented by the Prime Minister is that the United Kingdom will leave both the European Single Market and The European Customs Union when it leaves the European Union.

The Labour party position is that, depending on who you are listening to, that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Single Market and the European Customs Union when it leaves the European Union.

The United Kingdom cannot stay in the European Customs Union when it leaves the European Union. The European Customs Union is defined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) Article 28:
The Union shall comprise a customs union which shall cover all trade in goods and which shall involve the prohibition between Member States of customs duties on imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect, and the adoption of a common customs tariff in their relations with third countries.
and then in the next article headed "The Customs Union" it states:
THE CUSTOMS UNION 
Article 30 (ex Article 25 TEC) 
Customs duties on imports and exports and charges having equivalent effect shall be prohibited between Member States. This prohibition shall also apply to customs duties of a fiscal nature.  (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN)
Leaving the European Union NECESSARILY requires that the United Kingdom leaves the European Customs Union. Once the United Kingdom has left the European Union it will need to draw up a new Customs Agreement between itself (by then a third country) and the European Union.

That is not the case however with the European Single Market. The European Single Market is the European Economic Area (EEA). The European Economic Area is a vast geographical space from Iceland to Greece and Portugal to Poland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Economic_Area). 

Theresa May, the MP for Maidenhead, Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister says that if we stay in the European Economic Area then we have not left the European Union. She has apparently been told this by her former special advisor (SpAd) Nick Timothy who, it seems, she regards as talking sort of infallibly. This view of Mrs May's is nonsense. 

If the United Kingdom moved from the European Union to the European Economic Area that would not make the United Kingdom continuing members of the European Union. 

In the EEA, the UK would be out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) since in the EEA there is the EFTA court instead which does not necessarily follow the rulings of the ECJ although it takes account of them. The UK would be out of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), The European Customs Union, the Common Trade Policy (and thus be able to conclude our own bi-lateral or multi-lateral trade agreements), The Common Foreign and Security Policy, Justice and Home Affairs and Monetary Union (which we do not partake in anyway) (http://www.efta.int/eea/eea-agreement)

Moreover although it is true that the EEA countries subscribe to the four freedoms (the Freedom of Movement of Capital, Goods, Services and People) this application can be changed by the unilateral (that means you don't have to ask anyone else) invoking of article 112 of the European Economic Area agreement:
CHAPTER 4 SAFEGUARD MEASURES 
Article 112 
1. If serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties of a sectorial or regional nature liable to persist are arising, a Contracting Party may unilaterally take appropriate measures under the conditions and procedures laid down in Article 113. 
2. Such safeguard measures shall be restricted with regard to their scope and duration to what is strictly necessary in order to remedy the situation. Priority shall be given to such measures as will least disturb the functioning of this Agreement. 
3. The safeguard measures shall apply with regard to all Contracting Parties. 
Article 113 
1. A Contracting Party which is considering taking safeguard measures under Article 112 shall, without delay, notify the other Contracting Parties through the EEA Joint Committee and shall provide all relevant information. 
2. The Contracting Parties shall immediately enter into consultations in the EEA Joint Committee with a view to finding a commonly acceptable solution. 
3. The Contracting Party concerned may not take safeguard measures until one month has elapsed after the date of notification under paragraph 1, unless the consultation procedure under paragraph 2 has been concluded before the expiration of the stated time limit. When exceptional circumstances requiring immediate action exclude prior examination, the Contracting Party concerned may apply forthwith the protective measures strictly necessary to remedy the situation. For the Community, the safeguard measures shall be taken by the EC Commission. 
4. The Contracting Party concerned shall, without delay, notify the measures taken to the EEA Joint Committee and shall provide all relevant information. 
5. The safeguard measures taken shall be the subject of consultations in the EEA Joint Committee every three months from the date of their adoption with a view to their abolition before the date of expiry envisaged, or to the limitation of their scope of application. Each Contracting Party may at any time request the EEA Joint Committee to review such measures. (http://www.efta.int/media/documents/legal-texts/eea/the-eea-agreement/Main%20Text%20of%20the%20Agreement/EEAagreement.pdf )
I think that the United Kingdom could successfully argue that it believes that "serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties of a sectorial or regional nature liable to persist are arising" because of Immigration and unilaterally suspend Freedom of Movement (important observation: this would only apply to immigration of EU nationals I believe and not Commonwealth ones). 

The European Union has proposed its own solutions in a recent paper which this blogger continues to assert are completely unacceptable (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/32236/15-euco-art50-guidelines-en.pdf). Paragraphs 3 & 4 state:
3. As regards transition, the European Council notes the proposal put forward by the United Kingdom for a transition period of around two years, and agrees to negotiate a transition period covering the whole of the EU acquis, while the United Kingdom, as a third country, will no longer participate in or nominate or elect members of the EU institutions, nor participate in the decision-making of the Union bodies, offices and agencies. 
4. Such transitional arrangements, which will be part of the Withdrawal Agreement, must be in the interest of the Union, clearly defined and precisely limited in time. In order to ensure a level playing field based on the same rules applying throughout the Single Market, changes to the acquis adopted by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies will have to apply both in the United Kingdom and the EU. All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union. As the United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition, it will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy, to apply EU customs tariff and collect EU customs duties, and to ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border vis-à-vis other third countries.
Mrs May has before her two choices: 

She could sign up to a situation where the United Kingdom does what it is told without any representation until at least 31st December 2020. As her new 'deep and special' relationship with the European Union will not be completed by then, this Vassal status will be ongoing perhaps indefinitely. 

OR

She can stay in or rejoin an organisation which takes the United Kingdom out of the European Union. Inside the European Economic Area, the United Kingdom could have its own trade, fishing and agricultural policies separate from the EU but still retain all its regulatory alignment with the EU with these new policies

If Mrs May chooses the former, I think she will condemn her party to a generation of opposition. The electorate are not stupid. They will see the Vassal state for what it is and they will not stand for it.

Vassal state means continuing membership of the European Union without representation.

The European Economic Area means the United Kingdom has left the European Union.

It must be EEA for the United Kingdom. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Playing the Game


When you buy a board game, the first thing you do is read the rules. The rules tell you the order in which you do things such as 'roll the dice, pick up a card from the deck, move your playing piece the number of spaces on the board, then carry out the instructions on the card'.

The same thing applies to the European Union. In order for a state to leave the European Union, things must be done in a certain order. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty reads as follows:
Article 50 
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. 
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. 
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period. 
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
'In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.' (My Emphasis).

As Dr Richard North on EUReferendum (www.eureferendum.com) tirelessly points out, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty deals ONLY with the withdrawal agreement. Thus in the 'rules of the game' analogy:

1. The United Kingdom gives notice of its intention to withdraw from the European Union
2. The United Kingdom then negotiates with the European Council representing the EU27 the arrangements for its withdrawal
3. Once the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the European Union it can then negotiate a new deal which is NOT part of the withdrawal deal.
4. As a third country i.e. not part of the EU, it then can negotiate deals with other non EU countries as well as with the EU27 (as one entity).

It seems that the European Union is willing to let the United Kingdom have some kind of implementation period lasting until 31st December 2020 (i.e. 21 months from 'Brexit day') on very specific conditions:
3. As regards transition, the European Council notes the proposal put forward by the United Kingdom for a transition period of around two years, and agrees to negotiate a transition period covering the whole of the EU acquis, while the United Kingdom, as a third country, will no longer participate in or nominate or elect members of the EU institutions, nor participate in the decision-making of the Union bodies, offices and agencies. 
4. Such transitional arrangements, which will be part of the Withdrawal Agreement, must be in the interest of the Union, clearly defined and precisely limited in time. In order to ensure a level playing field based on the same rules applying throughout the Single Market, changes to the acquis adopted by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies will have to apply both in the United Kingdom and the EU. All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union. As the United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition, it will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy, to apply EU customs tariff and collect EU customs duties, and to ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border vis-à-vis other third countries. (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/32236/15-euco-art50-guidelines-en.pdf )
This blogger thinks that these conditions are completely unacceptable. In March 2019 the United Kingdom will not have any members of the European Parliament, nor any commissioner, nor any person on any European Body (committees, talking shops, negotiation platforms etc) and thus the transition arrangements will be
"In the interests of the Union"
They will NOT be in the interests of the United Kingdom;  they will be in the interests of the (European) Union. In addition:
"All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union."
In other words, the rules of the game on the card we have just picked up from the pile say that we have to do as we are told with no say, no influence and no input and have to accept whatever it is that we are told to do without argument. The European Union has told the UK that the period will terminate at the end of 2020 which coincides with the current Multi-Annual Financial Framework period (http://ec.europa.eu/budget/mff/index_en.cfm)

If this is not accepting orders via email and fax with no say, I don't know what is. This is what, falsely, "Grossly Incompetent"  David Cameron said Norway did as an EFTA state. It doesn't. Norway has a say at the drafting stage and as the legislation develops. The United Kingdom will literally have no say. It will become a vassal state - the worst of all worlds (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86705)

I am not a treaty expert nor an expert in Free Trade Agreements but the facts seem very simple. The United Kingdom will not have any kind of new trade agreement let alone a "deep and special relationship" of the kind that Mrs May wants (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-talks-downing-street-theresa-may-jean-claude-juncker-michel-barnier-eu-a7704561.html) when it leaves the European Union because the rules don't allow for that.

When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union it does so without a deal and THEN as a third country negotiations on a new deal can start. 

Of course Theresa May could open negotiations to join EFTA today and negotiate to stay in the European Economic Area. As far as I am aware the United Kingdom can start to negotiate new arrangements whilst it is a member of the European Union - it just can't CONCLUDE them whilst it is a member of the European Union. 

We could negotiate that our accession to EFTA would be 2 minutes after we leave the European Union on Brexit day (thereby joining EFTA after leaving the EU and becoming a third country) and this would ameliorate many of the issues not least the issue of the Irish Border. On Brexit day we would leave the influence of the European Court of Justice and come under the influence of the EFTA court instead (http://www.eftacourt.int)

It seems to me that the United Kingdom urgently needs to learn to play the game as cleverly as the European Union is doing. The United Kingdom needs to read the rules of the game in order to play it properly.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Working with your hands.

A person with the handle "Andy Hampton MP" has made the following tweet (as part of a series of tweets) on Twitter
"Most builders are self employed and don't want to work! Have you ever tried calling up an electrician in this day and age? Or don't you live in the real world yet?"
This tweet has annoyed me considerably.  I work in an office in front of a visual display unit every day. It strikes me that people who work with their hands, who get their hands dirty if you like, are not valued by our political class at all. 

When the Labour party declared it their aim to get 50% of young people to go to university that was in my opinion a great mistake. What they effectively did was firstly to kick 50% of the potential unemployment problem down the road by 3 years, greatly enriched universities and in the process changed many colleges of further education into universities - another mistake in that it made colleges of Further Education seem less valuable than universities. (I took two A levels and two 'O' levels at a college of further education as I did not work at school).It also greatly enriched those colleges and universities.

What they SHOULD have done (and what we could still do) is to have said that those who work with their hands have EQUAL value to those who work with their heads and sit on their backsides all day (as I do). Fully qualified builders, plasterers, painters, electricians and engineers should have their trades recognised by employers and others as 'degree equivalent' (why not?). SRN (State Registered Nurse) should have been recognised as degree equivalent by virtue of the training itself. Why not a degree in Painting or Brick laying?

The fact is that the problem with calling up an electrician in this day and age is that good electricians are hard to come by and you generally have to wait for them. I recently had the internal downstairs of my home painted and I had to wait 6 weeks for a good reliable painter - the same applies to the qualified gas fitter who tests my boiler annually. I have to work around him as he is in high demand. 

I think that the Government and Labour Party could do much worse than re-introduce apprenticeships and to give tax breaks to employers who train people to work with their hands. There could be a tax 'bonus' for every fully trained bricklayer, plasterer, plumber, electrician, painter etc that they produce. Once they had fully completed whatever the laid down training was they would be regarded as 'degree equivalent' by all employers. Who says that a plasterer is not equal to the person who works out that plasterers pay?

This can still be done. Not everyone can work well with their 'mathematical' brain. I am hopeless at working with my hands and DIY and have to employ someone else to do it because I CAN'T do it. The painter I employed was just as valuable as me - maybe MORE valuable. Their work if well done also has great value. You would pay good money for a meal why not pay good money to have your walls painted well in the colour you want?

There is massive housebuilding going on in the vicinity of where I live. Bicester, Milton Keynes, Buckingham and Aylesbury have all seen massive building programmes and we should value all the builders, plasterers, painters, ground work persons and others who make it happen. We might even reduce unemployment further. Look at the skill of making a muddy field into a housing estate with roads, drains, electrical and other infrastructure and ask yourself could you be a surveyor, builder, plasterer or painter.

There is a very good case for bringing back colleges of further education and technical schools to produce the artisans and the tradespersons of tomorrow. The fact that they have the skill to work with their hands marks them out as important people. That is the message of this post.

Those who work with their hands are just as good as you and me - maybe better.

People who work with their hands are important people.




Personal Thoughts on New Year's Eve


Having voted Leave I was hoping that the politicians would reassert their independence and leave in the best way possible to avoid harm to the economy. I have been disheartened I confess at what I perceive is the folly of a Prime Minister who seems only to listen to her special advisors, especially Nick Timothy, and no one else.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that if it is the case that I voted for decision making to be repatriated that, if MP's allow Mrs May to leave the Customs Union and Single Market (despite leaving the European Single Market being a bad decision) and do not hold the executive backside to the fire then that is what I voted for. I have achieved what I voted for and my vote has counted precisely because the elected House of Commons has decided to emasculate itself. Maybe the next generation of politicians will understand self government better and do a better job.

What I have found especially difficult however is that 18 months after the referendum there are still arguments about the validity of the vote and how the campaigns were conducted and funded. Let us take it as read that both sides lied. I am especially concerned about all the fuss about 'the £350 million' bus. There were commentators at the time (before the date of the referendum), usually independent bloggers like Dr Richard North at EU Referendum (www.eureferendum.com) who said that the bus was a lie and he was a Leave champion. Some on the Leave side were horrified by what was done to promote the Leave cause.

My response is that lying was not a Leave speciality. President Obama, Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney, Gideon (George) Osborn and David Cameron all lied. Mr Cameron started off with all the advantages. He was able to dictate the passage of the EU Referendum bill, he was able to frame the terms of reference of the referendum (the age of the voters, the majority required etc.), he was able to nominate the date and to stop the civil service from looking at even the possibility of a Leave win. Despite all this advantage, Remain lost.

It now seems that there was overspending or at least spending manipulation by both sides and the Electoral Commission are investigating claims and counter claims of overspending. I would personally like to see some method of enforcing spending limits even if that means the electoral commission being able to enforce by-elections in constituencies of the worst offenders.

I am dismayed most of all by the personal nature of the attacks. Remain supporters seem to have been totally taken aback by the fact that Leave won and have spent the last 18 months trying to find reasons. The old outvoted the young. Even the irredeemably awful Nick Clegg has said this. How old is old? On a personal note I have had to reassess my own definition of old. Clearly I am no longer young and must count myself as an older voter. Leave voters were ignorant and were taken in by 'The Bus' and the regions decided to ignore the wisdom of the London Metropolitan elite.

I thought that growing older might give a deeper insight and wisdom to people like me whose young views have developed and changed over the years. Apparently not. I am an old fossil who has ensured that my heirs will be forever poor by my vote. I do not accept this.

I think the calling of a second referendum to validate or overturn the first would be disastrously destructive and I cannot believe any Government will countenance it. If we are to rejoin the European Union, a  political party will have to put rejoining the EU in its manifesto and gain a majority Government for that manifesto in a General Election. My personal view is that I can't see that happening within the next 20 years (I could be proved to be wrong).

I would still like the Government to go down the EFTA route and hope that the European Union negotiators will urge the EFTA option on us. The fact that Iceland, the President of the EFTA court, Norway, the European Union have all suggested it is not to harm the United Kingdom in my opinion but to assist the United Kingdom in achieving the best possible result for its electorate as a  consequences of the referendum decision itself.

In the meantime, my New Year's wish is that we would stop name calling. Supposing that older voters did indeed vote to Leave the European Union, they did not do that because they were old necessarily. They might have done it because they realised the arguments about what the EU was. Let us please argue about what we SAY and not what we look like. Debate the argument and not the person. I happen to believe that some of what Diane Abbott or John Redwood say and write is rubbish on its own terms and not because of their gender or ethnicity. It is why I refuse to put my photo on Twitter or this site. I don't want to be judged on what I look like or my haircut. I want to be judged on what I say and write. I try not to attack people for themselves (although a couple of times I have been tempted). 

My New Year's resolution is to try to blog more often - I really do admire how people like Dr Richard North do their daily output when there must be occasions when they are disheartened. Positive feedback is always appreciated but I will also prominently correct any errors that I make or are pointed out to me. As it says in most books, any errors are mine and will be corrected whenever possible.

I will also try to maintain my position of not insulting people as individuals but for the incontinence or otherwise of what they say and write. Not all my blogs will be on the European Union but about my vision of what the United Kingdom should look like as it leaves that Union. 

I have found that I love my country more than I thought.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A Tribute to the Services Dead


I am not brave enough to serve in the services and I am in awe and humbled that people do and sometimes risk their lives in doing so. I usually make a point of watching the Service of Remembrance at the Albert Hall and recording and then watching the ceremony from the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. 

It is my opinion that it is to the eternal shame of our politicians that none of them seemed to go to Royal Wootton Bassett for the repatriation of the military dead (who went to die on their orders) that passed through there on their way from RAF Lyneham to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. 

It is even worse that when RAF Lyneham closed the Government ensured that the repatriated dead were sent to John Radcliffe Hospital via a 'back door' (the Britannia Gate) from RAF Brize Norton. Anyone with any doubt should read this by Peter Hitchens (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/09/thoughts-on-repatriation-and-how-the-government-really-views-the-deaths-of-soldiers.html):
‘HERE'S the truth about the Government's decision to route the hearses of soldiers killed in its various stupid wars away from any of the nation's High Streets. 
This comes into effect very soon, when the bodies of the dead start to arrive at RAF Brize Norton, next to the Oxfordshire town of Carterton. 
Junior Defence Minister Andrew Robathan stumbled a bit trying to deal with this in Parliament on Monday. 
First, he disclosed that the back gate of the RAF base, through which the hearses will pass, is to be renamed the Britannia Gate. Who thinks of these things? The Downing Street cat? Were I to rename the back door of my house the Britannia Door, it would still be the back door. 
Then he said that the route through Carterton was unsuitable for corteges because it has speed bumps. So does the bypass route that the processions will actually take, as Mr Robathan ought to know. 
He added that Carterton's streets were 'very narrow'. I doubt that they are narrower than those of Wootton Bassett, and plan to check them myself, unless anyone has measurements to hand. 
But he was rescued from his confusion by a fellow Unconservative, the North Wiltshire MP James Gray. Mr Gray asked: 'Does the Minister agree that it might not be possible, nor indeed quite right, to seek to replicate the Wootton Bassett effect elsewhere, as that was a chapter in our history? I am not sure we necessarily want to see it repeated elsewhere.' 
Mr Robathan eagerly responded, saying Mr Gray had made 'a very good point'. Really? What was so good about it? I wonder who Mr Gray means when he says that 'we' do not want to see Wootton Bassett's spontaneous, unofficial, genuine expression of respect for courage, discipline and loyalty to be repeated. He certainly doesn't speak for me.’

If you look at this piece of film from The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfhrDpErodY) and watch from 44 minutes 46 to 49 minutes 16 to be greatly moved by this segment on the death of service personnel and the loss of the families too.

For those who died at sea, the Royal and Merchant Navies there is often no grave, just the deep of the sea. I found this poem by Eileen Mahoney and think it is a wonderful dedication to them: http://www.iwvpa.net/mahoneye/index.php
In ocean wastes no poppies blow,
 
No crosses stand in ordered row,
 
Their young hearts sleep... 
beneath the wave...
 
The spirited, the good, the brave,
 
But stars a constant vigil keep,
 
For them who lie beneath the deep.


There is this piece from Semi-Partisan politics (https://semipartisansam.com/2017/10/20/the-best-one-percent/) about statements made in the United States and the first 15 minutes of this film deserves to be (and is just) 'must see' viewing.
Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens: Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine, and sends them home. Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead. And then they’re flown to, usually, Europe where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.
Young men and women volunteer for the armed services and of course they take the risks that come with that decision. They must serve wherever the elected Government (elected by the electorate) sends them. Some will die doing what they have been told to do. 

In my view, whatever we think of the politicians and political decisions made in sending service personnel to conflict and war zones, it is my duty (yes duty) to remember that they died for the cause of the United Kingdom at that particular moment 
O valiant hearts who to your glory came 
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame; 
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, 
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Of Course I respect those who will not or do not want to wear a poppy. There should be no media or popular clatter against the choice of people like John Snow. That's the point really. Their personal freedom of choice was partly earned by those that died in order to obtain and defend it.

I went to visit the battlefields of the Ypres salient this year. Standing under the Menin gate and listening to the last post being sounded surrounded by the names of the dead with no known grave is deeply moving. Swallowed by the mud.
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. 
Age shall not weary them; nor the years' condemn. 
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, 
we WILL remember them

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The European Union Perspective

It seems to me that this blog and other commentators have looked at Brexit entirely from a United Kingdom perspective. Take a quick look at this from the perspective of the remaining members of the European Union - the EU27.

Let us look at Southern Ireland. It has a great deal of traffic plying from Dublin to Liverpool and Dublin to Holyhead. This week there were two items of interest with regard to Dublin port. 

The first is that the Irish State has started dredging Dublin Bay (https://afloat.ie/port-news/dublin-port/item/37526-dredging-in-dublin-port-begins-with-material-dumped-in-dublin-bay) and the second is the introduction of the world's "largest Ro-Ro Ferry" (https://afloat.ie/port-news/dublin-port/item/37536-world-s-largest-ro-ro-ferry-to-be-introduced-on-dublin-routes-linking-mainland-europe) which will:
make a maiden call this week to Dublin Port from Zeebrugge and is to be followed with an introduction on the Rotterdam route
The obvious reason for doing this is so that Ireland's goods and animal exports can avoid the island of Great Britain and ply from Dublin Port to Belgium (Zeebrugge) and Holland (Rotterdam). If the French berthing points are deep enough expect to see direct routes from Dublin to France. 

This will directly affect the ports of Holyhead and Liverpool. It would seem unlikely that unemployment would not be caused in Holyhead by such action. It is surprising that the Welsh Assembly and its leader Carwyn Jones has not picked this up.

With regard to Border Inspection Posts or Points (BIP), there are three in Southern Ireland: Dublin Port, Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport. For the purposes of this blog, in France there is Brest, Dunkirk and Le Havre. In Belgium there is Ostende and Zeebrugge. In Holland there is Rotterdam. (https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/vet-border-control/bip-contacts_en) 

Note that Calais is not a BIP and neither is Dover.

Dunkirk has recently been extended and can cope with 5000 consignments a year. Nowhere near enough for the volume of traffic that will hit it in the event of a No Deal World Trade Organisation (WTO) only Brexit. Last time I travelled with Eurotunnel there was a plaque on the side of the train that said:
"Via the Channel Tunnel. Each year, Eurotunnel carries 1,600,000 trucks to and from the UK with a total trade of £91 billion"

Don't forget that the European Union is not leaving the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.

Why should Ireland, France, Belgium or Holland expand their Border Inspection Posts to ameliorate the fact the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union? Why should any of these four countries employ more border force personnel or BIP personnel or Veterinary Surgeons because we are leaving? If you were a member of the Government of any of these states wouldn't you say:
"Look, you are leaving and need more BIP capacity, you are going to have to pay for it and their staff, salary and pensions."
I know I would be tempted to do so if I were them. 

Returning to Ireland, there is the vexed question of the Irish Border.  Whilst the Island of Ireland is not united the Irish Border CANNOT be ignored. It is 300 miles long. It undulates and crosses farms leaving some fields in the North and some in the South. The border posts have gone. I saw a tweet where it was stated that one post was now a boxing gym.

The point being that the Irish border is the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union. If Mrs May is true to her word, Antrim will not be in the European Single Market whilst Dublin will be. To ensure the integrity of the single market, the border will have to be enforced.
In terms of scale, 91,000 Irish companies trade with the UK. After Brexit, their customs declarations will create an eight-fold increase in paperwork volume. There will be special permits, extra investment, more paperwork and potential delays. Ports and airports will need extra infrastructure, such as temporary storage facilities for customs clearance. The Revenue itself will need a big increase in staffing levels. (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86630) 

The European Union has also got its own agenda to consider. Under the Treaty of Rome it is:
"DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples"
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Treaty_establishing_the_European_Economic_Community and that is what it is intending to do. There has been in the press discussion of a new treaty amongst the Euro States and amongst the wider (European) Union having a single Finance Minister and diluting still further national states veto and increasing the use of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). There is even discussion of a European Union Army. Why wouldn't they? 

The European Union is determined to retain the integrity of the European Single Market of which it is a part with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein and it will not allow the United Kingdom to become an ad hoc member whilst not following the rules of that market.

There are those who say that the United Kingdom complies with all the rules now so it will continue to do that after it leaves. That's the point though. The United Kingdom is leaving.

The United Kingdom leaves and the European Regulatory Regime ceases when we leave because we are not a member so AFTER we leave the European Union can only ensure we obey the Regulatory Regime (the rules) of the market if we do the administration i.e. the paperwork.

No Deal means a WTO regime as some politicians have said. If the United Kingdom has Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) or Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA's) or Free Trade Agreements (FTA's) that is NOT a WTO only regime. That's a deal or deals.

After the United Kingdom leaves under a No Deal WTO only regime it will have to allow imports of goods which it would not have allowed if it were in the European Single Market and so the European Union will want to ensure that its market is not undermined by such goods entering the market.

I do not think this is unreasonable. I am a leave voter remember. I just think that's logical. There will be barriers to Trade.

If we leave under a No Deal WTO only regime then access to databases and interfaces will cease. United Kingdom driving licences will no longer be recognised. This will impact on all who drive on the continent on holiday or on business. 

All this because the Utterly Useless Conservative Government led by 'President' Theresa May insists that the United Kingdom must leave the European Single Market. As Faisal Islam tweeted:
... the need for this call rather goes to illustrate that being in the Single Market is not the same as being in the EU
The United Kingdom should apply for EFTA membership. Many of the above issues would be ameliorated if we did. We would stay in the European Single Market for a start. Iceland wants us to join. Norway wants us to join, the President of the EFTA court wants us to join, Michel Barnier has publicly suggested it. The European Union has even said that we can invoke Article 112 of the EEA Treaty if we do. Let's do it.

No Deal is NOT a credible option.