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Saturday 1 April 2017

Spaniards badly rattled over Factortame / CFP

When I owned a British Registered Ship (Part 1 registration) the ship's passport or Certificate of British Registry was an impressive thing; a long blue cloth cover embossed with the royal arms containing a large fold-out sheet of an obsolete size of sea-resistant high-rag thick paper - Demy, Double Post or even Elephant, perhaps - whereon were detailed the vessel and most importantly the ownership of each of the sixty-fourths into which British law divided ship ownership. I was stated, as the ship's fifth owner, to hold sixty-four sixty-fourths of her property. I could therefore wear a Red Ensign and salute our warships. In those days Johnny Foreigner wasn't allowed to own a British Registered ship.  

Then of course came the bloody EU and Factortame. This was a court case brought by some rich Spanish fishing boat owners who declared that the requirement of the 1988 Merchant Shipping Act that 75% of British registered ship owners (48/64ths) had to be of British nationality was contrary to the Treaty of Rome and that Spaniards should have the right to wholly own Red Duster ships. They won. 

This means that not only can Spanish ships fish our waters under their own quota, they can also, through buying British ships and the quota that goes with them, take our fish using British registered ships. And there are an awful lot of Spanish fishermen, trawler owners, shore-side secondaries and Spanish government tax euros currently coming from Britain's 200 mile exclusive economic zone, under both their own and our flag. The blow to their income and commerce from being excluded in two years time will be immense - if that is what happens - and Spain will scream in agony. 

Hence Gibraltar. Now I've no idea whether we can reverse Factortame in two years - Richard North is your man for that sort of knowledge - or how we'll exit the Common Fisheries Policy, but Spain is very rattled. 

There's a deal to be done, but Gib's comfort will cost us fish.

Friday 31 March 2017

EU talks gamesmanship - bluff and spin

One can usually tell when a journo has been royally fed the official line. Con Coughlin's MOD lunches are marked by subsequent pieces of strong, coherent journalism pushing a risibly absurd line that defies all logic. Which probably seems really convincing until the cold light of the following morning.

All the EU's planted stories so far on the Brexit talks have been models of Teutonic coherence. One can almost hear the machine-gun rattle of the press officer listing out the points at the journo's winking recorder. And once they actually realised that the UK really will walk away from a bad deal, the focus of their press manipulation has been pushing the line that our hopes are unrealistic, and that our only option is to take our punishment for the good of the 27. Only it must never be called punishment. 

The best example this morning is a piece in Der Spiegel. The author doesn't even bother to hint at those hedging prevarications that a news story usually contains. Nope. This is pure gamesmanship - using the only weapons the EU can muster, bluff, threat and spin. 

Whenever I've gone into negotiations with an unassailably strong position, the very last thing I've done is to crow about it to the other side. In fact, you rather hope the other side doesn't realise quite how strong your position is - if you want a deal, that is. So why is Spiegel, parotting the official line, crowing so loudly? Unless it's all tommyrot. And everything else we hear from the EU side suggests they're living in La-la land, hoping that bluff, spin and bullying will scare the UK into doing as we're told. They really don't know us, do they?

Tuesday 28 March 2017

"I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too"

An early post for Brexit Day as I've got a chocca full day's graft from first light tomorrow. 

Of course, England has been here before. The EU (that's the Pope and the whole of Catholic Europe) excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and barred all trade with us; not even a WTO-terms deal, only a bit of state-sanctioned piracy and smuggling kept us going. In reaction we went further afield to find new trade partners and accidentally founded the British Empire, established dominance of the seas and oceans and led the world in trade and commerce. They did us a favour, really.  

Anyway, if you fancy a rollocking good yarn with your celebratory tipple on B-day, rent Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth - The Golden Age; it's really rather appropriate.

Theresa May reads the draft of the Article 50 letter one last time before it is carried to Brussels. This is it!

In Brussels, Herr Juncker and Commissioner Mogherini discuss their reaction to the notification
PM May has a problem - half the country are still Remainians, committed to the 'old ways' and the sinister Tim Farron is doing his best to sow dissent in the realm
The Labour Party NEC meets to discuss the implications of Brexit. Mr Corbyn is misplaced and found later in a store cupboard. 

Meanwhile Brexit Secretary David Davis sets out to 'singe the King of Brussel's beard' before negotiations start, and is ably partnered by ...

Boris 'spuds and tobacco' Johnson, just back from exploring Washington and meeting Mr Trump, the chief of the indiginous tribes in the New World

At home Nicola Sturgeon, Queen of Scots, is caught by GCHQ plotting with Remainians to betray Brexit. 'We know the contents of every secret letter you sent' the head of MI5 tells her.

Herr Juncker's chief negotiator, Herr Barnier and Herr Verhofstadt discuss destroying the British negotiating position 'We vill crush dem and stomp dem into ze eart! No trade deal for dem!'
Mrs May makes her final speech to Conservative Party Conference before the climax of the Brexit talks. "I may have the stomach of a feeble woman, but my legs are rather good and I have the heart of a Lion"

The EU main negotiating team arrives, stunning the Brits by the size and scale 'Crikey!' exclaims Boris, and takes up smoking again, thanking providence he remembered to bring tobacco back from his US trip.

That night, Mrs May smells smoke and wakes to see the entire EU negotiating team on fire. She summons Boris, but he's nowhere to be found
Herr Juncker and the Commissioners have to explain to Europe that they've screwed up, and that all their homework got burnt in an accidental cigarette fire; Britain wins the talks
Boris turns up from the direction of the ashes of the EU team clutching a baked potato 'You see I knew there was a reason I brought these back from the new world; just the thing to keep you going when you're looking for a dropped fag ..'

Demonstrations don't count half as much as votes

Paul Mason reprises a Remoanian whine in the Guardian today; they may have lost the vote, our Article 50 letter is good to go, our negotiating teams are primed but still he clutches at the most feeble of straws. Demonstrations matter, he says, because they lay the ground for future electoral victories. Thus NHS and pro-EU protesters will see no easy victory now, but will score unexpected wins in the future.

To a point, Lord Copper. Was the Brexit vote then a delayed effect of the Countryside march, the first I ever attended? It was as much a protest about the disregard of the elite Metropolis for the rurality as about hunting, and until the Iraq march was the biggest ever seen in London, dwarfing the recent piddling little NHS and pro-EU huddles. And what of the anti-Blair march, the second of my lifetime (and probably the last)? Did the size and scale of this presage the overwhelming destruction of the Labour Party, it's utter unelectability for all time? 

Yes, the pendulum will swing back again. It always does. But not because of enfeebled radicals such as Mason calling fewer and fewer ageing followers onto the streets. Generational change will drive a future political rebalance. Demonstrations are really no more influential than a successful pop song or blockbuster TV series. It's universal suffrage and the secret ballot that really bring change - both of them striking fear into the hearts of the Illiberals. 

Let me fix that strapline for you, Paul ..

Monday 27 March 2017

Britain needs a new people's Party - What should it stand for?

There seems a degree of agreement that the nation needs a new party of the people that transcends the left - right political axis; what ten key aims would such a party stand FOR? Over to you, but here are my starting suggestions -

- Small state and the rule of law; a balance between central and local control
- Greater democratic control by a variety of democratic forms for each democratic tier, as appropriate
- Patriotic, not nationalistic; A Britain Internationalist in trade and outlook, but not subservient to Globalism
- A focus on the little platoons that will help build a strong and congruent British national identity  
- Fairness, justice and equity both within and between the generations
- Pride in our values, confidence in our cause
- Sustainable and practical use of our land, seas and assets
- A nation slow to rouse, but strong to bite 

NB being clear about what a party stands for implies those things it is against - they need never be stated explicitly. Negative aims turn people off. 

(Uhm, I'm not volunteering to start one.)

Sunday 26 March 2017

I always thought Carswell was a bit of a cad

Not saying I told you so, but this post from 29th August 2014;

Carswell - A bit of a mess
Oh dear Oh dear. Where to start. Mr Carswell.

1. He's undoubtedly right in believing that Cameron will flunk any reform negotiations - Dave has all the negotiating ability of a collapsed soufflĂ© and about as much real commitment to fundamental reform as a nun writing a condom ad. Many Tories are exhibiting the triumph of hope over experience on this, convincing themselves that Dave will somehow behave completely differently to the way he has for the last ten years. There's no hope I'm afraid - he will flunk it, and be wholly humiliated, and will then flunk the Brexit referendum, leaving the UK as weak losers. 

2. A minor but nonetheless niggling point - he's stolen Nigel's thunder as the first elected UKIP MP (or will do if he succeeds in the by election). While the gain to UKIP outweighs the stolen prize, it's a bit caddish.  

3. Carswell is an unlikely hero. Committed to the privileges of the political class, he led moves to make the home addresses of MPs secret on election applications. Neither was his Localism book (with Dan Hannan) entirely original, owing much to both Simon Jenkins and Helena Kennedy, sometimes without attribution. If I met him in the pub, I wouldn't like him. 

4. However, at least few care personally what happens to him. His move is useful in gaining UKIP air-time and in forcing Tory MPs to realise that Cameron's emollient charms are unsuited to the job in hand. It also brings back into discussion a Tory - UKIP election pact for 2015; if a worried party forces Cameron into this, Carswell's actions will be justified.    

Back to today ...and apropos of nothing

Apropos of nothing, you may not be aware that the EU Commission actually has its own FOI system, application form HERE.

I've already submitted two - 
- (1)Inventory and valuation of the Commission's cellar stocks of wine, beers and spirits (2) Inventory and valuation of the Commission's cutlery, crockery, napery, cruets, condiments, candelabra, candle holders and all other equipment and table decoration held for official Commission dining and events

- A complete inventory and valuation of all works of art valued each at over €1.000 (one thousand Euros) held by the Commission to include paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, installation works and all other objects held for artistic and / or cultural reasons

Well, if we're entitled to 10% of the CDs in this divorce, we don't want to be stuck with the Spice Girls and Robbie Williams, do we?