Europe Coalesces as Britain Falls Apart

Jonathan Fryer

D1AF3920-7B78-406C-A1FD-FA42B713BF62In last year’s European Referendum, UKIP and other arch-Brexiteers argued that the European Union is sinking and is bound to break up, whereas the developments of the past few months have shown that, on the contrary, the EU is pulling together while Britain, mismanaged by a Brexit-drunk Tory Party, is steering the country straight for the rocks. A year ago, the UK was one of the fastest growing countries in the OECD, whereas now it has sunk to the bottom. In contrast, even the previously afflicted nations of Southern Europe are picking up. Moreover, since Emmanuel Macron became President of France, there is a new spring in the EU’s step; “Mutti” Merkel is no longer the sole voice of EU strength. The Franco-German alliance is back with force. The great tragedy is that Britain ought to be one of a troika helping direct the EU, at a moment when China…

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Why Brexit negotiation are doomed to fail

BrexitOne of the tricks of successful negotiations is to understand the position and drivers of the people you are negotiating with.  If you don’t do this, you won’t know what you can ask for and you won’t understand their “red lines”.

It is obvious that the UK Government hasn’t done this with the Brexit negotiations which is one of the reasons why they are floundering and failing to get anywhere.

To get a better understanding of why May Davis , et al are failing so badly, let’s try to look at looking it at Brexit from the position of the EU27, the EU Commission & the EU Parliament.

First and foremost, they want the best possible deal for their citizens and for the EU.  However, they see this not just in economic terms but also in what will strengthen the Union in the future.  The last thing they want is for Brexit to succeed as that would encourage other anti-EU groups across the 27.   Few if any in the EU27 hate the UK or wish us harm but neither do they care too much about what happens to the UK.  Their attitude is we voted to leave, it is up to us to make a success of Brexit, not them

Many in the EU have also concluded that taking the hit of losing the 12% – 15%, of trade, the percentage of all EU trade, they do with the UK is a price worth paying for keeping the EU together.   They also have (not unrealistic) hopes that much of that trade will any way migrate to stay within the Single Market & Customs Union, for example all the Euro Clearing trade, other financial business, and manufacturing that relies in the free movement of components.

Let’s not forget also that for the EU27, Brexit is not a big issue.  The future of the Union, supporting democracy, making the EU more responsive to its citizens and dealing with the other problems across Europe are far more important issues.  Quite frankly, for many, the sooner the whole Brexit soap opera is concluded, deal or no deal, the happier they will be.

Once all this is understood, it is obvious that the UK’s position in the Brexit negotiations is very weak.  Only the deluded (or those wish to delude others) would keep on saying that “the EU needs us more than we need them”, the reality is that, unless we put something worthwhile on the table (like continued free access to the UK for trade under Single Market / Customs Union rules, like continued payments in to the EU budget, like continued free movement of workers), the EU have no reason to give us any concessions.

The sooner we realise this the sooner we can also realise that Brexit is a hopeless idea and we are mad to carry on with it.  Tine to #ExitfromBrexit

Who would have thought the EU would put politics before economic on Brexit? 

brexitOne of the biggest complaints I heard about the EU during the Referendum was that it had become a Political Union as opposed to the Trading Union (the Common Market) we join in 1973.

The fact that this complaint is false and that the EU, even from its earliest incarnation as the Coal & Steel Community founded in 1951, has always been a political entity and this was made abundantly clear both when we joined in 1973 and in the 1975 Referendum was not deemed relevant because, as with most facts about the EU, those wanting us to leave the EU have a complete disregard for them.

However, what continues to amaze me is that despite make the complaint that the EU is “too political” during last year’s Referendum, the same self people are now amazed that the EU is being “too political” when it refuses to give in to the whining and bombast from the Leave camp over the Brexit negotiations.

The EU (that is the other 27 nations & the EU institutions) are simply trying to defend the integrity o the EU and will not want to weaken it in any way.  If that means that the UK can’t get the “having our cake and eat it” sort of deal that the Leave campaign promised voters last year, then that is of no concern to the EU.

To put is simply, the Leave campaign sold an unrealistic and unattainable idea to the voters in 2016.  They now need to answer to the public about the distortions, misrepresentations & downright lies they told.  They need to explain why, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, they kept telling people false, demonstratively false, stories about how we will be better off out of the EU.

It is not the Remainers who are making Brexit a disaster, it is those who campaigned for it, knowing it would be a disaster and impossible without a long period of severe economic hurt, that should now be answering to the public.

The Fantasist and the Failed Technocrat

May and corbynThe performance of Corbyn & May at their respective Conferences has highlighted just how unstable our current political situation is and that neither Labour nor the Tories have answers (or the ability) to the country’s problems

Corbyn had the difficult task of one hand wanting to appear to be hoping for an immediate General Election while all the time hoping the Tories hang on until the Brexit negotiations have been completed.  The worst outcome for Corbyn would be to win a 2018 election by a narrow margin (and no polls are predicting a Labour landslide) and having to conclude the negotiations with the EU.

This would leave him not only having to deal with the inevitable post-Brexit recession but not being able to blame the certain bad deal we will get (and even a no deal will be a terrible deal) on the Tories.

One certainty will be that none of the grandiose plans he outlined in Brighton will be able to be implemented as the UK will not have any money to spare, indeed any post-Brexit administration will most likely have to start implementing swinging cuts in all public spending,

Still, Corbyn did what he is very good at, a talented orator & campaigner on issues, he gave a great speech, full of flowing phrases, making expansive promises for action that would, if implemented, bankrupt the nation even if we had a robust economy, not one tottering on the edge of the Brexit cliff.    The only thing missing was any credible ideas of how to pay the promises or how they would be implemented (and remember nor toft heh Labour Front Bench have any experience in running very much!).


May also had a difficult job to do as well.  In the face of a Cabinet tearing itself apart as they jostle for prime position to replace her, with the Brexit talks going from bad to worse with, a worsening economic climate (also brought on by Brexit) and after the disastrous (and unnecessary) General Election in June, May had to try to reinvigorate her party and give them a sense of purpose, not an easy task for a charismatic leader and a great orator and May is neither.

She is an efficient technocrat with a tendency to micro-management but she has never been accused of being a deep political thinker & strategist so it was no surprised her speech was flat.  Even with the excuse of the coughing fit, it was not a speech that will send her depleted troops out to battle for her.  Even her “Big ideas” don’t stack up, £2bn for 20000 social homes means on about 50 in each local council area across the UK, not so fantastic after all and even the Tories were rubbishing the Energy Bill freeze when Labour proposed it.


So where does that leave us?  One party lead by a fantasist leader with no grasp on the reality of power and the other party, falling apart and lead by a failed technocrat with no vision.  Neither has any grasp of what is needed to unite the country, neither has a realistic vision that will allow everyone in our county to have a better future, both offer a dark future with little hope for the young, the poor & the disadvantaged.  Time to look elsewhere for leadership.

Rent Control does not work

Corbyn FarageCarl Assar Eugén Lindbeck, the left wing Swedish economics professor said in 1971 “Next to bombing, rent control seems in many cases to be the most efficient technique so far known for destroying cities

Does Corbyn want to destroy all the cities in the UK?  Because that is what will happen if he is serious about implementing Rent Control in them.  Landlords will cease to maintain in their properties or simply stop renting them out altogether if they can’t get a return on their investments.  How will this help those wanting to rent?

The best way to lower rents in our cities (and in towns & villages which have the same problem) is to invest in  new social housing & renovate existing homes,  As the 2017 Lib Dem Manifesto said, we need to build 300,000 homes a year, allowing councils to build the houses that families need rather than the ones developers can make the most profit on.

While it sounds a great policy from a Party Conference podium, rent controls won’t work without adjusting the supply of housing to make more homes available.

Just like Farage and the other Brexit campaigners, Corbyn is guilty of trying to sell the equivalent of snake oil to the people on the UK, warm words, great sound bites, empty promises.  It might fool some of the people some of the time, but we can’t build a better future for our nation on such policies.  In the end, if Corbyn gets his way, it will be the poor and the young who will struggle to find affordable housing, the very people Corbyn pretends to support.


Another sad day on the road to Brexit

British Prime Minister Delivers Landmark Brexit SpeechToday has been another sad day as we heard our Prime Minister make yet another speech of surrender to the forces that would drag us out of the EU

When our PM says the United Kingdom never felt at home in the EU, she does not speak for me.
She does not speak for the millions of other Britains who are proud of their European Citizenship, who look forward to visiting friends and family across our continent, who are as at home in Worksop as in Dusseldorf or Rome or Trondheim or Madrid, who enjoy visiting and living in other nations across the EU.

Indeed, I have never been so ashamed of being British as when I hear this xenophobic rubbish from the likes of May, Farage and other short-sighted, small brained, politicians.

What made this speech even harder to stomach was the paucity of vision

The Brexit Referendum was June 2016, Article 50 was invoked in March 2017, yet in September 2017, our PM finally gets around to trying to explain that she thinks the rest of the EU should allow us special status as part of the Brexit process, even though much of that has already been excluded as a possiblity by the EU.

Is it me failing to grasp the interlaces of a complex negotiation or is it simply that May has no idea what the EU will allow us to have, has no clue in how to negotiate and is at a complete loss as to how to proceed?

How can May promise a Transitional Period or anything else from Brexit? It is not in her (or anyone else in the UK) power to do this. The EU nations (as well as the Commission, European Parliament and a number of Regional Parliaments) have to agree to this.  She can ask for this but she is a supplicant in no position to demand anything.  By making such demands she risks even getting any deal and we will be left in March 2019 with no Transitional Deal, with not trade agreement, and probably with no trade either

Brexit was already going to be a car crash as the realities of it mean we will lose much of our biggest market for export, drive investment away and make the UK a place people did not want to do business.

Not having a plan of how to proceed, not having a realistic idea of what we can get from the negotiations and ignoring exactly who has to agree with the final deal will mean that Brexit is going from being a car crash to a motorway pile up with the mislead and lied to working people of the UK being the ones who will suffer the most

I have fought to keep the UK in the EU for the last 2 years, I will carry on that fight until the thought of my country being outside of the biggest Trading Block, the biggest Union of Sovereign Nations working together for mutual peace and prosperity is nothing more than a bad memory.

Nothing I have heard from the Government or the others who want to drag us out of the EU has made me waver from my position.  There has been no evidence, no hint that there is even a glimmer of hope for most people in the aftermath of Brexit

Like many others, #ExitfromBrexit is not just a slogan, it is the only way to secure a better future for me, my children and my grandchildren.

We must not let Brexit happen.