Tag Archives: Brexit

Missing the boat?

With the news that it appears Theresa May will be triggering Article 50 on 29th March – a ‘major’ birthday and ‘wedding anniversary’, so  it seems May has a warped sense of humour perhaps? – an action of which it would appear she and her government are nowhere near ready as they have no idea of what is involved, nor have any idea of how they can achieve their stated objectives – the media seems more interested in the following:

In the preceding article I questioned whether the media was crucial to transparency in this country, commenting on twitter that it was most obviously not on past and present performance.

Our country is about to take one of the most momentous decisions it has ever faced; and all our media can do, it seems by comparison, is concentrate on trivia. Trivia it is because not one other political party has any idea of an alternative, workable, strategy.

For the last 40+ years both our politicians and our media have ignored the subject of our membership of the European Union; yet now both consider themselves ‘experts’ on the subject.

We are regaled by a Prime Minister who assures us she ‘may’ know all, but most obviously does not; a leader of the LibDems, Tim Farron (who is so ‘Farroff’ the subject that one has to wonder whether he is ‘of this planet’; and Jeremy Corbyn: no, don’t let us waste words on a politician who is so obviously ‘off this planet’ to the extent his party may have a ‘Watson’ but are obviously lacking a ‘Sherlock’.

That which is happening where Brexit is concerned is a Faustian Pact twixt an unknowing electorate and the Devil (in the form of a government). We, the electorate, may have tried to outwit the Devil, but we forgot to limit the powers of the Devil about that which was our decision – mainly because we were too damn ignorant.

As we sow, so shall we reap………..

A word to the unwise

To those who are of the opinion that Brexit can be swiftly resolved, I can only refer them to the ‘interview‘ of Sir Ivan Rogers by the European Scrutiny Committee. Those in Ukip, together with those of similar views, do need to watch this video – and listen and learn!

Richard Drax (at 10:29:00) posed a question using the analogy of belonging to a golf club and in terminating that membership stating that one is not liable for any future payment. The man obviously does not understand the difference twixt a payment and a commitment to pay. Unfortunately he is but one of 650, it seems, who has not a clue about matters EU – and these are people we are forced to pay in order that they may take decisions on our behalf for our benefit?

At (starts at 11:01:00) Sir Ivan mentioned FlexCit and Richard North in respect of an exit strategy – yet not one member of the committee picked up on this; and it could be said that even the Chairman of this Committee ‘Cash’d’ out. Either members of this Committee are aware of the document and its author, in which case they exhibit an arrogance by ignoring it; or, they are ignorant of its existence and exhibit an arrogance in not querying its mention.

We have today had published (opens in pdf format from link therein) the Government’s White Paper detailing the United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union. If they can accomplish everything it contains (and the extra it does not mention) within their timescale – and without  any detriment to the UK – then I’ll eat my hat (which by the way is made not of straw [Jack or Will] but strawberry cheesecake).

Why is it that I feel I have landed in the world of Lewis Carroll and am one of  x million ‘Alices’ talking to 650 Humpty Dumpty’s sat on a wall?

 

The North East of England to be ‘blighted’ again?

It is often said, especially by those who live here (and it would appear with some justification) that closure of the coal mining pits caused severe hardship as a result of greatly increased unemployment and bitter divisions within communities, even within families. This was especially the case in Seaham and the immediate surrounding area.

Seaham had three collieries: Vane Tempest, Dawdon and ‘The Knack’; while just a few miles away there were other collieries located at Easington, Murton and Horden. After nearly three decades Seaham has recovered, Murton is still recovering, Horden has become a suburb of Peterlee, while Easington still exhibits a ‘dead/run-down’ appearance.

The foregoing is mentioned as an introduction to two articles by Richard North, here and here, dealing with what might be the effects of a ‘Theresa May Brexit’ on the air and shipping industries.

Bearing in mind those reports, in the North East there are ports at Tyneside, Teesport, Hartlepool, Billingham and Seaham. Where airports are concerned there is Newcastle International and Durham Tees Valley.

If we  look at shipping first, Tyneside has [from the annual accounts (downloads as pdf)] full-time jobs supported directly or indirectly by the Port of circa 14,500. The Port’s International Passenger Terminal continued to contribute over £50 million to
the GVA [Gross value added (GVA) is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy], supporting the travel and tourism sector in particular. The gross tonnage of ships entering the River Tyne was 25.7 million tonnes in 2015, with the number of vessel movements amounting to 2,816. The number of cars handled across the Port’s three car terminals, that provide storage for Nissan, VW / Audi, was 581k units. The volume of Nissan exports remained strong and as a result the business retained its position as the UK’s No.2 car exporting port.

Teesport handles circa 5,000 vessels each year and around 40 million tonnes of cargo. In addition steel, petrochemical, agribulks, manufacturing, engineering and high street commerce operations are all supported through Teesport.

Hartlepool is just three miles away from Teesport, and is at the heart of Hartlepool’s local economy, with bulk cargo facilities alongside the oil & gas sectors and the renewable offshore wind energy market.

Billingham is a strategic location to support the significant number of processing plants located within the town’s immediate hinterland and has one of the largest warehousing and cross-docking complexes within the Tees Valley.

Seaham can handle ships of up to 8,000 tonnes, with a maximum beam of 18m, length up to 120m and draft up to 6.7m and in 2016 it had 215 ship entries to the harbour. The  harbour handles imports of forest products and steel while exports comprise limestone and woodchip. Both imports and exports involve vessel movements to and from Spain, Norway and Germany. Seaham harbour has a workforce of circa 90/100 employees.

It was of interest to see yesterday that following the Prime Minister’s speech on the Government’s objectives for Brexit negotiations, the British Ports Association (BPA) is holding discussions with the government to understand the details of its post-Brexit vision and how customs and other procedures at ports might be affected. With the Prime Minister indicating that the UK will be leaving the Single Market, the BPA will be seeking to ensure that the logistical flows of goods and passengers at ports will not be disrupted.

As stated above the North East has two airports, Newcastle International and Durham Tees Valley; although the latter only has a few daily flights, one of which is KLM. On the other hand Newcastle has flights worldwide including to the European Union. Airlines involved are British Airways (via Heathrow), Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Emirates, Air France, Easyjet and KLM.

You, the people, are able to address every Member of Parliament and inform them that having been ‘sold down the river’ in 1972 and 1975 (not forgetting the following 40+ years of EU membership) that this is the end of our acquiescence to ‘pilates’ who have no real sense of direction because they know nothing and thus would lead us up a cul-de-sac, whilst appearing to have washed their hands of those whose opinions they are supposed to reflect, purely for reasons of political ideology.

Are those of the North East – and in particular those of this area,  once again to suffer severe hardship as a result of greatly increased unemployment and bitter divisions within communities, even within families without their voices being heard? The question is asked because as sure as hell if Theresa May progresses down the path she appears to have chosen, the North East will once again be blighted’; as will the remainder of the United Kingdom.

 

The Lady has spoken – ‘may’ she be right

So the long-heralded speech by our Prime Minister on Brexit has taken place – and we must make of it what we will.

For those advocating a move ‘sideways’ to EFTA/EEA there is disappointment – and for those wanting out of the Single Market and the Customs Union there can only be mixed feelings as she said that she does not want this nation to have an associate membership of the European Union, but it would appear she is willing to accept, if necessary, some form of associate membership of the Customs Union. A tad odd, no?

Theresa May mentions talks she has had with Juncker, Tusk (or is that  Tsk?) and Schulz, together with the leaders of the 27, all of who want a good relationship with the United Kingdom – that may be, but some of those leaders may not be there in a few months; so do the views of Schulz and others who will no longer be on the scene count for much?

There has been much condemnation and belittling of Mays approach from those pushing EFTA/EEA and those pushing for a total exit from the Single Market and the Customs Union. For some time we have heard much ‘sabre-rattling’ about the ‘sanctity’ of the ‘four freedoms’ from the heads of other EU states, together with similar from Juncker and Schulz,

However, what this speech by May has done has been to plant the ball over the net and deep into the EU’s court. Now we must wait and see whether they can return her service. We spectators at the EU/UK tennis match of the decade, if not the century, must sit, watch, wait and, in the meantime, be enthralled

The foregoing begs the question just why are we spectators in what amounts to a political game that affects not only the future of our nation, but also our individual lives? Should we not ‘storm the court’, halt play and inform the ‘star players’ that we are players in this game too – because in this political game where is the demos and kratos in what is supposed to be a process of democracy?

There will, no doubt, be many words about the content of May’s speech from the MSM and our not-so-great-and-not-so-good (aka the political class) – but then what the hell do they know, based on past performance? Not only them, but I would also appeal to other commentators as I, for one, am tired of the continual arguments based on a ‘what if’ scenario. I would suggest that all wait until there is something ‘concrete’ on which to comment; and would remind all such commentators of a saying attributed to Bob Monkhouse, namely; silence is golden – and is never misquoted.

Readers, this game is destined to be a long one and one can only suggest that supporters of each side keep their powder dry prior to igniting fireworks in celebration – or considering making an appointment with Dignitas.

Once again, just saying…………………….

 

 

 

 

A Cri de Coeur

Can we please stop:

  • Politicians airing their views on Brexit – because not one of them appears to have the faintest understanding of the subject;
  • Journalists writing on Brexit because their understanding of the subject is on a par with that of politicians;
  • Conflating the Single Market with a Customs Union;
  • Think tanks not thinking;
  • Complaining about ‘EU rules’ when said ‘rules’ are, generally, but implementation of decisions made by UN ‘standard-setting’  bodies;
  • Believing that Brexit  can only be either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’;
  • Politicians insisting they should have a voice on the proposed terms of renegotiation for our future relationship with the EU;
  • The voice of those of the people who do understand the EU and Brexit having their opinions silenced by what amounts to ‘censorship’.

Can we please have:

  • Politicians elected who do have the intellect and thus the ability to speak with authority on any given subject;
  • Journalists (Booker excepted) who also have the intellect to do their job as they should instead of repeating mindless and factually incorrect political statements;
  • Think tanks that actually have an understanding of the subject matter about that which they would have us believe they are thinking;
  • Those who wish to speak, write or tweet about ‘rules’ first learn what UN bodies, such as UNECE, actually do;
  • Acknowledgement that there does exist a logical Brexit process – it goes by the name of FlexCit;
  • Having given the people the choice of leaving or remaining a member of the EU in the first place, if there is to be a voice regarding proposed renegotiation terms, then let it be that of the people.
  • Freedom for the people with the necessary knowledge to say and write – and have it reported – on matters Brexit.

Just asking……………..

Ideas worthy of consideration?

Where the position of the UK – in their negotiations with the European Union – are concerned, two ‘papers’ have come to light which appear to have bypassed those with an interest in ‘matters EU’, in that I have seen no reference to them; especially in respect of Brexit and life thereafter.

The first, a paper authored by Rishi Sunak MP (Conservative: Richmond – successor to William Hague) details the ‘supposed’ advantages of ‘Free Ports’ and the trading potential contained therein. It is worth mentioning that Switzerland, being outside the European Union, has a ‘Free Port’ located in Geneva, albeit for works of art and ‘valuables’.

Admittedly this blog has not had the time to research this subject further but if that which Sunak’s paper suggests is true, then this must be an area our Government should be investigating in order to maximize Brexit’s potential?

The second, authored by Michael-James Clifton, chef de cabinet to the President of the EFTA Court (writing in a personal capacity), explains the operation of the EEA and comments on its operation; whilst arriving to the conclusion that an updated version of the EEA Agreement could be a natural home for the UK post Brexit: a solution which could also be in the interests of the EU, EEA/EFTA States; and potentially Switzerland.

In  respect of this second article is is worth noting that Clifton is of the opinion that there is no possibility of ‘free-standing’ EEA membership’ (page 8). He also notes that (page 8): a precondition for EEA membership for the UK (outside of the EU) is EFTA membership.
The following positions were expressed at the EFTA Ministerial Meeting of 27 June 2016 in
Berne: The Icelandic Government considered that the members “should invite the UK to join EFTA.” Switzerland stated, “We are basically positive but we shouldn’t be too outspoken here, in order not to anger the European Union.” The Liechtensteiners were also cautious but a bit more positive. The Norwegians had reservations and the Norwegian politicians openly said they may lose the number one position in the EFTA pillar in case of British EEA membership, “and this is not in our interest”. It is unlikely that this is the last word but rather the starting position from the Norwegian Government which softened its position over the summer.

Something else worth reading is a summary of a speech given by Prof. Carl Baudenbacher
President of the EFTA Court at the University of St.Gallen on 20 September 2016. Baudenbacher’s lecture covered aspects of the future possible relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU in finding a relationship that works for all through EFTA and the EEA, as well as the implications and opportunities of Brexit for Switzerland.

In view of all the non-factual claptrap that one reads in our media and espoused by most of our political class I would commend readers to read all the above for which links have been provided.

 

 

My patience is fast running out………

In response to this article I have submitted the following comment, which is subject to moderation:

Referring to your article, as someone whose work has focused on coalition governments and how the Civil Service works with political parties; social housing, green energy and property development sectors; and who has a BA in history and a MSc in Public Policy, would it be impertinent of me to ask how you can write on ‘matters EU’?

I ask the question as the most obvious ‘interim solution’ about which you write is for the UK to move to EFTA/EEA membership – an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, one which is readily available and which would then allow for time to negotiate a ‘final solution’ – yet you fail to mention it. Why? Why would such an interim agreement be so difficult to achieve?

For those of us who have an understanding on matters EU and Brexit, we are sick and tired of the ‘commentariat’ – of which you are one – publishing ‘opinions’ based on nothing but ‘hot air’.

Have you read FlexCit – come to that have you even heard of FlexCit? If you haven’t, Google it?

Let us see if a response is forthcoming………..

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings

The following has, this evening, been submitted to the letters section of the Daily Telegraph – not that I have much hope it will be published:

Sir,

Only a couple of days ago Keir Starmer, Brexit Opposition Spokesman tweeted: PM should be far more ambitious in Brexit approach: fighting for full access to single market & in customs union: act in national interest.

Staying in the Customs Union means staying in the EU –  is Labour’s Brexit spokesman aware of that; and of the difference with the EEA?

It continually amazes me that Members of Parliament are so woefully lacking in knowledge where matters EU are concerned – and in this regard one only has to read Hansard reports on EU debates – yet insist on having a voice in respect of the terms of our renegotiation where the future relationship of the United Kingdom with the European Union is concerned.

This begs the question: why are they sitting on the Green Benches and why should we, the people, heed one word of that which they say on the subject in question?

Yours sincerely,

David Phipps
(Name, address and telephone number(s) supplied)

With ack to @PWiliamsTBF (Twitter)

Fish ( variety of) and other related matters – like sharks

Sturgeon is the common name for the 27 species of fish belonging to the family Acipenseridae and their evolution, so we are told, dates back to the Triassic, some 245 to 208 million years ago. Sturgeons are long-lived (where Nicola’s species is concerned: heaven forbid) and late-maturing (which is all too evident with her immature ideas).

Nicola Sturgeon, following the Brexit vote ‘beetled off’ (if a fish can imitate a beetle) to Brussels to attempt to cement, somehow, her wish to keep Scotland in the European Union, while asserting that a further referendum in Scotland would be held to enable Scotland’s cessation from the United Kingdom, a decision  based entirely on the votes cast in the referendum of 23rd June 2016.

She seems to forget a few constitutional matters:

  • Scotland, in my belief, is not a state per se in international law, so it is incapable of signing and ratifying international treaties. Neither does it have power over international relations, which are reserved to Westminster under the Scotland Act 1998;
  • It must therefore follow that Scotland could not become an EU Member State in its own right, or even sign an Association Agreement with the EU;
  • If Scotland did vote for cessation from the United Kingdom, Nicola Sturgeon’s wish is that it should inherit the position of the United Kingdom and thus retain a position of a full member state, while at the same time denying that if that strategy failed, Scotland would have to undergo the process of any state wishing to join the European Union;
  • There is, to my belief, no precedent for a devolved part of an EU Member State becoming independent and determining its membership of the EU as a separate entity – especially in the context whereby the ‘parent’ state has voted to leave the European Union;
  • .Under The Scotland Act 2016, if my reading of that Act is also correct, Scotland has no law-making powers in relation to referendums, therefore the consent of the United Kingdom would be required for another referendum.

It would appear that Scottish MSPs are not the only politicians to not understand ‘matters EU’ let alone ‘matters at home’.

This then begs the question just how was a fish so out of water: (a) holding the position of First Minister for Scotland; and; (b) what was she doing – and trying to accomplish  – in Brussels?

Turning to ‘other related matters’, events within the Conservative Party currently mirror fishes out of water, plus a shark feeding-frenzy with the last still standing (or swimming) being the victor, however mortally wounded he/she may be – but will that produce anyone who understands ‘matters at home’ or ‘matters EU’? In respect of sharks we need to remember that they are accepted as the apex of their food chain; and in that respect they are not that much different to our political class, are they – especially when we witness the shenanigans currently taking place within the two main political parties? That is democracy in action?

Being that whoever is proclaimed ‘the winner’, wherein is the voice of the electorate in that decision? As such, where is ‘democracy’ involved  in that outcome – do not all involved in the battle for the ‘top job’ talk about democracy and how important it is, yet seem to not understand the meaning of the word? If the decision to cease membership of the European Union was one for the people then surely the outcome of that decision must also be one for the people – for does not the United Kingdom belong to the people as a whole, rather than just  650 of them?

I notice that some blogs appear to be anointing Theresa May,presumably because she has said that Brexit is Brexit.  Let us not forget she is a Europhile at heart  and voted to remain in the European Union; and was noticeable by her absence from those campaigning during the referendum period – Not one of the five contenders for the position of Prime Minister has what I would term a ‘statesmanesque’ appearance, although I might change my mind if one of them starts talking about EFTA and EEA.

As  final word on the leadership of both Conservative and Labour parties, since politics in this country has fallen into the nadir it has, is it any wonder the choice has to be made from a pool of mediocrity?

 

 

We pay but have no say

Paraphrasing David Cameron’s views on Norway and their participation in matters EU, that argument of his leads onto another very important matter.

During PMQs today David Cameron said, in answer to a question from Kevin Holinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con):

……obviously, the term “access to the single market” has many potential meanings. Countries that are outside the EU have access to the single market, some through a trade deal and others through World Trade Organisation rules. Obviously the best access is through membership of the single market. What the country will have to decide—and what the next Prime Minister will have to decide—is what sort of access we want, and what are the costs and benefits of that access…….

Later, during the Q&A session following his statement on the EU Council meeting he attended yesterday, he said in response to a question from Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con):

………I am not saying that there are only four or five blueprints and that Britain has to follow any one of those. Obviously, we can try to amend blueprints and have Norway-plus or Norway-minus or a better trade deal than Canada………..

The point to be made here is that it will be the decision of the new Prime Minister – whoever he or she is – that decides which path we follow when negotiating our future relationship with the European Union.

In that decision we, the people, will have no voice. Yet if the decision to leave the European Union was felt to be one that only the British electorate should decide, then should not the decision about the content of any future relationship also be a decision that the British people should decide?

If we had true democracy, then that decision would be one that the people would decide – unfortunately as we do not have true democracy, but a democratised dictatorship, it means that an unelected Prime Minister will make said decision for us.

The political class pontificate about democracy – just where is democracy when an unelected politician can make a decision without consulting we, the people?

Is not the reason we voted to leave the European Union because we do not – and are unable to – elect those that govern us?

Just asking…………………..

Afterthought: Listening to PMQs I was struck by all the questions about our need to stay in the Single Market – yet not one of these numpties had the gumption to suggest how this might be accomplished and put that idea forward; probably because not one of them have any knowledge of ‘matters EU’.

We pay them how much a year – plus, of course, expenses which far exceed their salaries. Why??????