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Saturday 5 October 2019

The UK - Pour encourager les autres?

One sometimes starts to wonder whether the entire mess, blunder and deep divisions of the past three years have not been contrived for the benefit of the EU, as a lesson and warning to the remaining 27 of what will happen to them should they dare to challenge the rule of the EU. Such musing is not discouraged today by Der Spiegel, normally the most illiberal and anti-Brexit of organs -
The EU Must Soften Its Approach

As such, the EU should take a step back -- it's in its own interest -- to meet the British at the halfway point. The EU no longer needs to fear that Brexit will find imitators if Brussels shows itself to be too yielding. The picture Britain has painted over the past three years -- the crises in government and parliament and the threat of the United Kingdom disintegrating -- should have a sufficiently deterrent effect. After more than two years of negotiations and considerable struggle, Brexit has become inevitable. It would be good for the process to finally be completed. Separating in a positive manner is the prerequisite for a reasonable relationship in the future.
Apart from a tacit admission that May's ineffective bodgers had previously been beaten into a wholly unequal deal by Brussels, it is also a plea for Germany not to be burdened with a hostile and belligerent Britain when she has just herself fallen into the most difficult of recessions.

My own view is that we will emerge stronger, renewed and reformed from the Brexit debacle - with some much-needed constitutional cleansing once we have a decent working majority in Commons and Lords, some democratic house-cleaning and electoral repairs. One reform must be to limit lawfare - the ability of the very wealthy to undermine democracy through the courts - and to restate the limits on the power of the courts. We are not the EU, and have no wish to surrender our democratic freedom to the corrupt rule of lawyers and the very rich. 

Friday 4 October 2019

The Democracy Deniers, puce-faced and spittle-flecked with rage

The anti-democrats in Brussels (including their dag in Dublin Castle) acted exactly as one expected yesterday. One of about fifty unelected EU 'vice presidents' had the front to appear on Iain Dale's show and condemn the plan as unworkable although it quickly became clear she hadn't seen the detailed plan and hadn't even read the seven page heads-of-terms released to the press and public. Verhofstadt had seen the precis document and waved it about on his mobile phone before ranting that the Empire would never let go of the United Kingdom. Varadkar was the comic turn, saving his petulant flouncing until mid-afternoon with a declaration that the people of the UK had changed their minds and Brexit should be cancelled (in fact polls give a solid 65% who think that whatever the rights or wrongs of Brexit, we should respect the vote and leave).

It was, in short, as dispiriting a display of jejune tantrums as one would expect from the crooked cabal in the Berlaymont. What it wasn't was any indication that any of them possess a scruple of statesmanship. They were like excited children. And so in the Commons.

Corbyn, now a very elderly man who with his equally elderly comrade McDonnell dreams of Marxist power before he dies, was provoked into a spittle-flecked fury of invective by the calm reasonableness of the Prime Minister's statement. I feared his heart was about to go at any second - an event that would provoke a high-fatality crush on the opposition front bench as half the Labour Party would lunge to take his place at the dispatch box, his twitching corpse kicked beneath the bench. He had earlier threatened the most severe measures against the score or more of Labour MPs who were favourably impressed by the Prime Minister's proposals enough to vote for them.

All in all, yesterday brought out into clear view the demented and almost incoherent anger of the democracy-deniers, the illiberals and the anti-democrats. Such people are not only enemies of Brexit but enemies of democracy - a threat to us all, leavers or remainers. If they cannot accept the most fundamental way in which democracy works, there is no place for any of them in public life.

Thursday 3 October 2019

Not yet triumph, but the tide has turned and the wind has backed

The government's double whammy yesterday of the Prime Minister's conference speech and the release of his final offer to the EU has changed the whole feel of Brexit. Overnight the front foot and the moral advantage have passed to the United Kingdom. No more are we a vacillating, wobbly amateur bunch of bricoleurs with the letters falling-off the wall behind us. Inept, confused and mistaken advisors such as Nick Timothy and his ilk have been cleared out of Downing Street and the PM for once has a professional team behind him. What a difference a year makes.

The cabal in the Berlaymont would be mad not to accept Britain's offer.

I wrote on Tuesday that I doubted Boris could get the three green ticks he needed to get a deal through. Today it looks as though two of those ticks are tentatively there. The Telegraph reports that the ERG, the Tory turncoats and about 25 Labour rebels could vote for the deal in the Commons. Whatever Farage is saying isn't being heard by the media. Germany is in recession and the Eurozone faces a series of economic bodyblows that will be exacerbated by a clean Brexit; they will grasp at the offer. That just leaves Brussels.

I've always pushed strongly for a clean Brexit, and like many have problems with some of the other baggage apart from the backstop in the draft Treaty. So why do I find myself this morning ready to shrug my shoulders and support Boris if he gets agreement for this deal? I'm not sure. But there it is.

Boris has effectively isolated the EU zealots in Brussels and Varadkar's fatuous posturing. Britain's mature, sensible offer and our reasonableness and statecraft are now on view to the world, released in those documents. The EU's every petulant instinct must be to reject the UK's offer - but do they dare?

Kit cars - now outlawed in much of the EU - will be saved for the UK

Wednesday 2 October 2019

The world turned upside down

An empty-nester in Bavaria, the acquaintance of a friend, sold the large house in which she had brought up her kids and undergone a divorce but had no choice but to commit herself to another large mortgage on a new property. Financial downsizing was not an option. "Why?" I demanded. Because. The Germans are incurable savers, and without harsh government measures to ensure they keep borrowing and spending the economy would be hit. So the German tax system effectively prevents homes being used as pension pots.

In a world in which negative interest rates are normal, in which central banks are printing monopoly money used only to inflate the asset values of the wealthy in a huge shimmering vulnerable bubble and lenders are drowning in cash to lend (I must check whether personal lease plans have been extended to powerboats and ride-on mowers ... there is no better way of parting a man from his wealth than ownership of a prestige planing vessel kept in a marina; and no, my old displacement fishing boats lived on a half-tide mud berth up an open creek). The Guardian is at least honest about Europe's problem -
Yet as one economist perceptively put it, the problem for the eurozone is that “weak credit growth is driven by the lack of demand from creditworthy borrowers rather than the supply cost of finance”. This can be solved in part by governments stepping up to boost demand in the eurozone.
That's it; the right people don't want to borrow. Lenders are desperate to lend. I wonder if we can look back to some point in history, say the oughties, to see what happened before ....

Have PLPs been extended to adult toys?

Tuesday 1 October 2019

The final countdown

There is really nothing useful to be done for the next day or two. Nothing to analyse, nothing upon which to opine. We are waiting for Boris.

The Prime Ministers' proposals, whatever they are, face three hurdles. The first is the Irish and the EU, still not ready to relinquish the opportunity to subject the UK to a punishment beating. Second are Brexiteers - the ERG within our own party and TBP without - who need to see much of the other dangerous stuff in the draft Robbins-Selmayr Treaty go. And finally is the Remain Alliance, now fully out in the open in declaring that they don't give a fig for democracy and will use their final days in parliament, before we voters evict them, to do everything they can to block Brexit.

My own feeling is that there are no proposals on earth that would allow a deal to get a green tick from all three.

One must therefore suppose that the PM's proposals are for the world outside Europe and for posterity. In international statecraft terms, leaving without a deal is akin to the British ambassador waving his todger about and pissing from the embassy balcony. So if it happens, apportioning the blame for it is critical. Submitting a perfectly reasonable, workable plan to the EU to have it rejected with their usual amateur jejune petulance puts the blame on Brussels.

Likewise it sucks the wind from the sails of any remaining shred of pretence from the bent Speaker, Bercow, and his corrupt parliamentary cabal that they are genuinely concerned about no deal.

And Boris' refusal to countenance any deal with TBP says to me that he is very confident that we will be out in 30 days - deal or no deal. If he pulls it off and keeps his job, it will be the greatest political triumph since MT re-took the Falklands. We have a month to wait and see.