MP objects to banning “Upskirting”

There is a long and unpleasant tradition among some male (and it it always male) backbench Tory MPs of blocking progressive and much need Private Members Bills.
The late Eric Forth was a well know exponent of the tactic of talking a bill out by droning on (there is no time limits on speeches in debates on Private Members Bills, just on the time allowed for the debate itself) and who can forget Phillip Davies talking out a bill to give free hospital car parking to carers.
Today, another MP joined this ignoble list. Christopher Chope shouted “Object” when Wera Hobhouse‘s Bill to make “upskirting” illegal (which had the backing of the Government) and that was enough to stop the Bill progressing under the arcane rules of the House of Commons.
Has he no shame? Almost no one else has any problem with this small but much need piece of legislation.
I hope both his constituents and all others appalled by his mean spirited act let him know what they think. His email address is 

Country before Party

downloadThe reason behind Brexit have little to with what is best for the UK and all to do with what is best for two political parties.  It was devised simply as a cunning plan to keep the Tory Party together, it has been allowed to continue as any attempt to stop it now would break both the Tories & Labour asunder.

That is simply not good enough as it is becoming clearer by the day that Brexit may keep these two parties more or less united, but it will destroy much of the UK economy in a way that will take decades to repair.  It also risks damaging the fragile flower of peace in Northern Ireland and is already making the UK a laughing stock around the world.

It is time for our MPs & political leaders to put aside party concerns, it is time to realise the future of the UK is more important than the unity of the Conservatives or of Labour, it is time to be proud to be British and to put the welfare of British people first.

I call on all MPs who have any doubts over Brexit to stand up next week and vote for the House of Lords’ Amendments, to vote to give the British people a chance to look at any deal on Withdrawal and, if they wish, reject it in favour of staying in the EU.

It is time for our politicians to put our country before their party

Let the people decide

hero_euflagsToday I have sent an  email to John Mann (180527 Letter to John Mann) to ask him to support the amendment tabled by Tom Brake to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill that will give MPs the chance to call for a public vote on the the final deal with the EU on our withdrawal.

None of the proposed versions of Brexit on offer are what those in the Leave campaign said would be available.   Far from releasing £350 million a week, it is likely to cost us that much or more in lost economic output.

Tom Brakes’s amendment will give us the people a chance to stop the madness of Brexit.  There is no wonder those who support leaving the EU are scared of allowing the people a say, they know they will loose,

So please write, to your MP (you can copy my email if you want) to let them know that we, the people, demand a say on the final agreement.  You can also join the Lib Dem campaign on this issue


By the way, I have had a response from Mr Mann.  It was (in full):

It was your government and specifically your leader who proposed a referendum. The Liberals voted as a party to have one and abide by its result . End of.

As usual, Mr Mann is being economical with the truth as I have pointed out in my reply to him

Mr Mann,

The European Union Referendum Act 2015 called for a non-binding referendum on membership of the EU.

Yes, the Lib Dems voted for it but making this non-binding vote (with no provision for a super-majority) the final say on membership was not what was intended in the Act and not what MPs voted for.

You have avoided answering the question though, will you support the Brake amendment to give the people a vote on any Withdrawal Agreement? If not, is it because you know the people will reject any agreement that will leave them worse off, as leaving the EU will undoubtedly do?

Leon Duveen

Like other Quitters, Mr Mann seems to think that we, the people of the UK, are not allowed to change our mind, lets show him that we are.

The Real Brexit Dealines

There has been lots of talk of deadlines around the Brexit negotiations, the one we beat (just) to be able to move on the talks about a trade deal, another is when the Withdrawal Agreement has to be signed off leaving enough time for it to be ratified by the European parliament, EU27 national Parliaments & a number of Regional Parliaments (but not, please not the UK Parliament).

However, there is one deadline that is not being talked about, probably as it is not a governmental one and not a fixed one either.

It is simply how late can companies leave making the decisions they need to make about whether to transfer all or part of their UK business into the EU27 area to keep it inside the Single Market & Customs Union?

Of course, this will vary between companies. Some like Wetherspoons (can’t move pubs) or Dyson (their manufacturing centre are already outside the EU, in Malaysia & Singapore) won’t be affected too much directly by Brexit so don’t have to move any part of the company, others like EasyJet (maintenance centre moved to Malta) have already move part of its business into the EU27 area, some like many of the banks) are waiting to make final decisions.

As the crunch date of March 29th draws ever closer with no definite agreement between the UK & the EU27 over the Terms of Withdrawal and an agreement in principle over future trade arrangements (for which detailed negotiations cannot start until we are no linger in the EU), more and more companies will be forced to make these decisions as they cannot wait to see if the Hard Brexit wing is defeated and we get a Soft (or no) Brexit deal.

So, if you work for a company with existing business with the EU27, perhaps you should start to think what will happen in the next 12 months?  Are Toyota going to invest in their Derby factory or in their facilities across the EU27 countries to build the next generation of cars?  Are Siemens going to continue to build factories in the KU when products built here will be subject to customs & duties to import into the EU?

Decisions will need to be made soon as it takes time to transfer jobs & facilities and change logistics.  It is meeting the deadlines for these decisions that will determine if the UK can make a success of leaving the EU or not, far more than any politician in Westminster.

Is Theresa May really the White Queen?

john-tenniel-white-queenin Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, when Alice told her that she can’t believe something clearly impossible, the White Queen remarked, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This exchange comes to mind when I hear Theresa May or David Davis commenting on the progress of the Brexit negotiations or the “wonderful” future that lies ahead for the UK if they succeed in dragging us out of the EU.

Let’s look at the impossible things that our current Tory non-Government (and the Labour non-Opposition for that matter) seem to believe about what will become the only land border between the EU and the UK if Brexit happens, the long and tortuous border between the Republic of Ireland & the Province of Northern Ireland (NI).

Currently, as both the UK (& therefore NI) and the Republic are in the EU, there is little or no border controls, citizens of both the Republic & NI (indeed all people living or visiting either) can pass to and fro across the border without let or hindrance.  The only difference is that in the Republic speed limits are in Kilometres per hour while in NI, they are in miles per hour.

Many people live on one side of the border but work or shop on the other side, business have supply chains that cross the border, farms cultivate land that crosses the border and families have members on both sides of the border.

The Republic is staying in the EU (and therefore the Customs Union) regardless.   The people of NI are rightly scared that if the UK does leave the Customs Union, then there will be a return of Immigration and Customs Controls along the border disrupting their lives and businesses.  Yet, as the UK will not be in the Customs Union (or the common travel area for non-Irish citizens) a border there must be.  Indeed, no-one wants a return to such border controls.

The alternatives to them are:

  • Northern Ireland stay in the EU Customs Union and the effective border in at the Northern Irish ports and airports. This is rejected by NI Unionists (who support Brexit) as it will be cutting them off (in their mind) from the rest of the UK
  • The Republic impose all the border controls needed at their ports & airports so that, in effect, the Republic leaves the EU Customs Union and join a UK Customs Union. This is rejected by all Republic politicians and they want to remain in the EU Customs Union.
  • Some form of electronic border controls will be implemented to check goods traded across the border and passports of people crossing the border. No one can yet tell us how this will work or show an example of where such a system us up & running but this is the preferred option of the UK Government.

Now it is important to remember that progress on this issue (at least in outline) is one of the pre-conditions the EU has imposed before starting to talk about a future Trade Deal with the UK, which the UK want to start next month.

You would think that some in our non-Government might be working hard on the issue and coming up with details of how their preferred option would work.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Despite the impossibility of the system they are proposing being developed from scratch, tested & installed in the 16 months until the date they say we are going to leave the EU, all they say on the issue is, they believe it will happen.

Clearly, May is channelling the White Queen (with Johnson & Davis as Tweedledee & Tweedledum?) in her faith in the impossible!

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