Sunday, December 03, 2017


Mrs May playing EU roulette
Click on any image for a larger version

This is intended to be an organic blog post, by which I mean I will add to it and amend it as time goes by. The later segments are at the top of the post starting immediately below here. So you might be best reading from the bottom up, if you have the patience or the motivation.

18 June 2021

Maroš Šefčovič

Most people who remember Margaret Thatcher's "Bruges Speech" are aware that she was saying NO to something. That something was the move to further federation and the enhancement of the powers of the EEC (now EU). That speech was made in Bruges in the Belfry Tower in 1988.

I heard another Bruges Speech today, from the closing session of the College of Europe's academic year. This time from Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission for International Relations. Maroš is now the point man for the EU in the implementation of the EU/UK Brexit treaties.

Just by way of background, the EU has been facing the prospect of a messy British Brexit since the 2016 referendum. The messiness comes from a number of factors.

The UK has been emmeshed in the EU for the last half century and the exit is akin to separating Siamese twins.

The UK could, in theory, have opted for a clean break, which is what they thought they were doing, were it not for the small matter of Northern Ireland. Both the UK and Irish governments are guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement which presupposed common membership of the EU.

The UK has an ideological and warped concept of sovereignty, which for them means absolute independence and full freedom of action at all times and in all circumstances - at least as far as the hated EU is concerned. For them this means that they cannot be bound by rules established and enforced by the EU even when it involves access to the EU's single market.

Well, Maroš made it clear, firmly and politely, that the UK's time for farting around and presuming endlessly on the patience of others was at an end. The UK could adopt a cooperative attitude in its dealings with the EU or it could just opt to slide down the slippery slope doing both itself and the EU irreparable harm.

He made it clear that Brexit was a UK decision and that the process was a no win for either party. The IRL/NI Protocol was simply an attempt to mitigate the damage caused by the UK decision.

He also stressed that Brexit had firmed up the solidarity of the 27, something that was not clear at the outset. In fact, he was too polite to mention that the UK had done everything in its power to undermine that solidarity and the EU single market.

His most serious point for the future was that agreements are based on trust and that the UK had a long way to go to re-establish trust after the way it had behaved to date.

He might have accused the UK of shamelessly using Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip but he didn't go quite that far.

It was a tough speech and you can read the text here.

By way of contrast, you can read about Maggie Thatcher's Bruges speech here.

Rector Federica Mogherini

This is Federica Mogherini's first year as Rector of the College of Europe and I have commented elsewhere on the political advantages she has brought with her, and in particular, her approach to outreach and inserting herself and the college into the current debate on the future of the European Union.

She had been a colleague of Maroš Šefčovič in the EU Commission and it was a stroke to get him along for the closing of the college's academic year to make a this milestone speech.

14 June 2021

Click on image for video

This short extract of Macron replying to Boris Johnson's and Raab's criticism of Macron's reported remark that Northern Ireland was not part of the UK, is well worth a watch. NI is clearly part of the UK but it is separate within that jurisdiction in a way that Wales and Scotland are not.

Were it not for Northern Ireland, and the particuar obligations of the UK Government to it under the implicit assumptions underlying the Good Friday Agreement, the UK could have left the EU with a clean break. Angela Merkel has already made this point some time back.

Anyway, check out the video which both (i) clearly states the EU position on UK sovereignty and (ii) reflects the extreme frustration of the 27 at the pissing around of the British since 2016 and more particularly in the last two or more years when vast resources, which could have been better used, have been tied up in this charade.

22 March 2021

David Frost (courtesy Spectator)

Observing the behaviour of David Frost, including the lies he is purveying to lawmakers, it is clear that he is punching on two main fronts.

First, he is trying to get rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which we should remember is simply a mitigating measure to alleviate as much as possible the disruptive effects of Brexit on Northern Ireland while at the same time protecting the EU Single Market.

Second, he is actually trying to undermine the Single Market from the outside by attempting to mitigate the effects of Brexit by insisting the EU change its rules in a way that would do just that.

“But surely”, you say, “the British were the original moving force behind the Single Market?”, and you'd be right.

But that was when they were inside the EU and stood to gain from a large single market. Now they are outside and to them it has become a curse.

It is standing in the way of them attempting to negotiate separate agreements with the Member States and it is causing a problem with Northern Ireland, an area in which they have developed a sudden interest, having completely ignored it in their ideological scramble to Brexit. Well, not quite ignored for the period when the DUP held the balance of power during Theresa May's negotiations.

It is also potentially screwing up the landmark deal the UK hopes to do with the USA for, inter alia, hormoned beef and chlorinated chickens.

As Tony Connelly mentions, in this Brexit Republic podcast, next week's EU Council meeting will be stressing the need for Member States solidarity in dealing with a devious and destructive UK.

Click on image for podcast

20 February 2021

Boris Johnson's deploying Lord Frost
To be sure, to be sure, all's not lost
A fine ermine cloak
Puts a shine on a bloke
And bucks up the troops at no cost
I have started listening to RTÉ's weekly podcast Brexit Republic which is straightforward, informed, and relatively low key - a great way of staying up to date on Brexit.

This particular self-harm abomination will be with us for the forseeable future.

The cast of the podcast is RTÉ EU Correspondent Tony Connelly, Deputy Foreign Editor Colm Ó Mongáin, and London Correspondent Seán Whelan.

The full series, including the current podcast can be found here.

25 January 2021

The total insanity of Brexit is becoming clearer by the day as British firms are obliged to re-enter the single market on an individual basis if they want to stay in business.

While at home the lying Tories remain in the business of wrecking the country.

9 January 2021

Reality finally bites. Leaving the single market is now beginning to cause widespread disruption in supply chains and beyond.

Tony Connelly spells it out in simple terms. And it's not as though this was not forseen. But it is another good example of how the EU Commission is not prepared to dismantle the single market just for the convenience of what may be its stupidist member leaving it.

It's worth your while reading this simple presentation of a complex problem. Thank you again Tony.

And I haven't even mentioned Northern Ireland.

1 January 2021

So the evil deed is finally done and the UK is out, out,out of the EU to bask in the freedom of a long past empire when it could tell Johnny foreigner what to do and keep him in his place.

As the full damage becomes apparent over the next while, the fingerpointing will begin. This will be no mere happenstance. It will be repeated again and again, and in the words of Ian Fleming, reveal itself as enemy action.

The UK has been brought to its knees, floating alone on the deep ocean with a new "constitution" which empowers the Executive to do what it likes when it likes, but only to the UK itself. A glorious beginning to its era of putting into practice the original decision to self harm which was brexit.

De Gaulle repeatedly didn't want to let them in. Tusk had a place in hell for those who carelessly and noxiously took them out. Today both are vindicated and look down with distain on the malign leader, Bojo de Piffle.

What, I ask myself, on this momentous day when the UK has finally cleansed itself of the rot and domination of the EU, is the French for Brexit Day.

Bidet anyone?

26 December 2020

Mark my words, this skimpy deal will fall to be augmented in the near future. At least that is a conclusion the UK will come to. But now, virtually all the cards will be in the hands of the EU and perfidious Albion will yet again learn that decisions have consequences, and insane decisions have insane consequences.

24 December 2020
A suitable fate?

So, following direct talks between Commissions President von der Leyen and Boris Johnson a trade deal has been struck, at least as far as the negotiators are concerned.

It still has a few hurdles to surmount - on the British side, the UK Parliament and for the EU the Council and European Parliament. In any event it will not be formally ratified, at least by the EU side, in time for the lapse of the current transition period on 1 January 2021 so the EU will adopt it provisionally and deal with the ratification later.

What has been agreed? Well this is effectively a trade deal involving tariff and quota free access to each other's merchandise markets subject to a level playing field and a whack of recurring documentation as befits EU trade with a non-Member State. The young will be sad to see the UK opting out of Erasmus but the City of London must be quaking in its boots at the thought of business moving to Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

The Commission has published a table showing the benefits conferred on the UK compared to those available to Member States. The point is strongly made: Boris will not have his cake and eat it. The deal is welcome compared with a no deal, but it is a skimpy deal, inevitably so given the UK's insane red lines.

You can read all the documents here.

It will be clear to anyone who has read this post that I have no time for Boris. I was trying to think up a suitable fate for him commensurate with the damage he has done. I flirted with many takes from history but thought that the illustration above would be the most suitable. You can enumerate all the reasons for this yourself.

Beyond that, words fail me.

17 December 2020
Take that, you bounder.

Will our gallant hero knock out the enemy and return back to base with a deal or sadly return with a full load.

Jesus, I wish I hadn't been brought up on those awful WWII 64 page comics, and Rover, and Hotspur. It really gets you thinking in moments like this along Dam Buster linses. And, of course, this is how Bojo and the crew present it.

Little England against the Euro Empire, whose only aim in life is to punish those who have the gall to leave the club.

Anyway as I write, it is held that there is "a path to a deal" but in certain areas the contestants are still "far apart".

And the deadline is passed and nobody is prepared for what may come next.

I'll be back if anything happens the significance of which I can understand.

7 December 2020
Please Angela, do it for me.


We are now at what must be the eleventh eleventh hour, or more accurately, a minute at most to midnight.

The UK appears not to have moved an inch since day one. It still insists on having its cake and eating it even if, in conceding this, the EU would be not only dismantling the Single Market but putting the future of the EU itself in jeopardy.

The British stance is based on an understanding of "sovereignty" which is firmly rooted in its disgraceful imperial past. Or should I say this is the front which is summoned to perpetrate an unmeasurable injustice not only on its own people but on us Irish and on the EU itself.

I marvel at the patience of Michel Barnier who, fully fully appreciating what is going on, must be tearing his hair out at the blatant antics of the British. Had we know that this is where we would end up, it might have been better for the EU to have walked away at the beginning and devoted its time and effort to more pressing issues

Of course that would have abandoned Northern Ireland which was also, albeit indirectly, a member and it would have done for its economy. As Angela Merkel remarked, had the Norther Ireland question not been in play, the UK could have happily walked away in an unconstrained Brexit. It is not the EU which is holding them hostage, it is their obligations to Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement to which they are part guarantor (in case they have forgotten).

The criminal arrogance of the current British régime, in this and other matters, is beyond belief.

They will certainly need the "spirit of the Blitz" to cope with what is coming. Unfortunately for them that has faded over time except in the folklore and propaganda peddled by the current crowd of shysters.

29 November 2020
Bye Bye UK

We are once again at the eleventh hour as the negotiations appear to have broken down with the EU continuing to protect its Single Market and the UK hoisted on its own Brexit pétard.

There appears to be consternation in the UK business sector and alarm in the City of London as the consequences of a no-deal final exit seem to be getting through.

I imagine it is now too late to do any sort of deal which would be capable of avoiding the catastrophe that awaits us. I say us, and not just UK, as the Irish economy and lifestyle is about to suffer the biggest blow since I don't know when.

Even if some sort of elastoplast arrangement is agreed, there will be borders. There will be significant delays in the case of merchandise trade and these will be fatal for trade in perishables.

Some sort of temporary arrangements may be made for the EU to fully recognise the City of London but Paris and Frankfurt will be there in the background gradually snaffling the business currently carried out by the City.

I remember attempts by these financial centres to put the City out of business during the negotiation of the Investment Services Directive in the 1990s. The UK resisted successfully then, but only because she was still an EU member state.

Ireland has woken up to the dangers of delays in the landbridge, via the UK to the EU, and we are now promised more direct routes to France. But these will not solve the problem of perishable products and will do nothing for any problems with our destination market in Britain.

Pandora's Box, which I mentioned way back, is now seen to be fully open.

So, hold tight, the roller coaster ride is about to begin.

16 September 2020

Russ, above, has given us a detailed description of the greedy, mendacious, incompetent, and criminal crowd of loolahs who are currently in charge of the UK.

Read all of it; it is brilliant. Just click on Source above to get the thread.

That should keep you going for now.

But just in case, where we are at - the UK government (bless them) are putting legislation through parliament to enable them to break international law and unilaterally abrogate selected parts of the EU Withdrawal Agreement which is an international treaty.

Some Tories are scandalised by this but have given the Bill in the Commons a second reading (ie broadly agreeing with its content) and they intend introducing amendments to secure a subsequent parliamentary lock on the implementation of the legislation.

That, howerver, is a purely internal UK/Tory matter and the legislation would still be breaking international law.

[Update: On reflection it struck me that if the legislation is to be any use to Bojo, other than as an attempt to scarify the EU, he would need to have it fully operational by the end of the year to get domestic cover for breaking international law on 1/1/2020. So the Parliamentary lock, were it adopted, would have to be invoked anyway.]

Welcome to Malice in Blunderland

10 September 2020

Alf Garnett & the Missus?

We're nearly there, wherever that is. The UK is no longer a member of the EU and the extension during which it pretends to be is just about up.

The EU has made it clear that the preconditions for a new agreement are, inter alia:
  • full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA)
  • an agreement on fisheries
  • a level playing field in matters of trade
The negotiations on a new agreement are going nowhere. The UK still wants to have its cake and eat it, meaning, full access to the single market without observing any of its disciplines. It purports to be baffled why the EU will not effectively dismantle the single market to convenience it on its way out the door.

The level playing field is seen as the EU challenging British sovereignty or punishing the UK, depending on who you are listening to.

And today, the UK has introduced legislation allowing it to abrogate the WA, or parts of it, unilaterally at will. We are reminded that parliament is sovereign so that's all right. It may be alright from a minimalist UK constitutional viewpoint but it is not normally considered kosher to go round breaking international treaties at will.

The parliamentary sovereignty bit is no surprise to me. I learned it in school, admittedly in a derogatory context. The context was Herod's killing of all the male babies around the time of Christ's birth in the hope that he might be one of them. Well, I learned that the British parliament could legislate to kill all British blue eyed babies, for example, and that would be all right in their eyes.

It seems I was ahead of my time.

We seem to have been heading for a hard Brexit (no agreement) for a good while now and this latest British move confirms it. All that is left now is the blame game and it is probably the only thing keeping the EU at the table in this charade.

With all the attention being given to the WA and customs arrangements for Northern Ireland, I think sight is being lost of the fact that the negotiations were supposed to have been much wider than merchandise trade, but there has been clearly no movement on the other elements. What is going to happen to financial services, air travel, mutual recognition of qualifications, and all that other stuff on 1 January?

There is clearly going to be a lot of pain all round. The EU itself is likely to be the least affected, followed by the UK and with Ireland at the bottom of the heap. We will not only suffer in trade with the UK, including cross border on the island, but they will clearly not, or not be able to, facilitate us on the landbridge with the rest of the EU. They have already hinted at this and Priti Patel has already threatened us with a repeat of the Famine.

The verdict so far, then. No change.

15 July 2020

This is not so much an update on Brexit as a simple reassurance that I am still alive and kicking. I have been following the negotiations, if you can call them that, and paying particular attention to Michel Barnier's progress reports.

In short, there is no progress and we are now at High Noon. The time appears to have past for the UK to look for an extension. The fact that they have not done so in the middle of a Covid pandemic just goes to show how embedded is their anti-Europe stance.

They are conceding nothing. They still seem to think the EU should dismantle the Single Market to facilitate their exit from the Union. Meanwhile their great expectations of Empire glory are turning to dust, as they slowly realise the folly of opting out of the multiplicity of EU negotiated trade deals with the rest of the world, and how weak is their hand now in attempting to negotiate fresh deals with, for example, the USA and China. As far as the US is concerned, Trump, or his successor, will write the deal, and as for the Chinese, 5G to that.

What was to be a glorious resurrection of the Empire is now turning into a very serious damage limitation exercise.

Rafael Behr puts this very well in today's Guardian, as is his wont.

And, as I keep saying, the damage is coming our (Ireland's) way big time.

4 May 2020

It's over three months now since I updated this blog, a sure sign of Brexit fatigue. Since then both Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier have come through a bout of Covid19 and the respective negotiating teams have been attempting to negotiate online.

As expected, the EU knows what it's at and is on top of its brief. This is not true of the British side who are acting the maggot, whether from a lack of leadership, a deep seated ignorance of how the EU works, brinkmanship, or an ideological desire for a self-immolating hard Brexit.

With characters as slippery as Johnson and Gove you just never know.

The easiest way to come right up to date is to tune in to Michel Barnier's press conference today where he is reporting on "progress" in the negotiations. If you don't get sound you'll need to unmute (the barchart) at the bottom right of the picture. If you want the English interpretation click on original in the same area and choose English.

Barnier is a diplomat and always calm in the storm. He has put it up to the Brits many times, always maintaining a respectful demeanor. But today the frayed patience is showing as is clear from his opening remark
"Brexit is a school of patience. And it still is."
And just wait till he gets into his stride.

He is dumbfounded at the British carry on.

He has come to the conclusion that the Brits just do not understand the consequences of Brexit. They still think they can have their cake and eat it. Or as Barnier puts it, have ALL the privileges of EU membership as a third country.

He is puzzled by their idea of sovereignty which boils down to you do as we say. In other words, there is no room for EU sovereignty. He has to remind them that the EU, and not the UK, decides on the terms of access to the Single Market, while, of course, the UK decides on the terms of access to the UK market. That's precisely why sovereign powers negotiate deals.

Barnier points out that the ambition was to negotiate a no-tariff no-quota deal, but that Gove recently remarked that it may fall short of this. That, says Barnier, would change the game completely and take years to negotiate.

He cited the level playing field, which the Brits endorsed in the agreed EU/UK Political Statement, and to which they are now absolutely refusing to give legal expression, maintaining all the while that they will be imposing even higher standards than the EU's own.

You can see above that he had a hard job not to laugh out loud at that one. Higher standards my arse.

My own feeling is that it is only now fully dawning on the EU side the full extent of the UK's delusions and bad faith. They must be wondering why they have two hundred and fifty people assigned to these "negotiations" when they could no doubt be doing better things.

Anyway, a gentleman to the end, Barnier offers them a friendly version of his speech which, nevertheless, pulls no punches.

If you want to see the UK's response, Tony Connelly has reported some of it here.

Having read Tony's piece and the ignorant blame-game rantings of the British "negotiator" therein, I am surprised at how Barnier is succeeding in reporting these meetings with a relatively straight face.

Frost is bemoaning the EU's ideological approach to the issue. He does not, or doesn't want to understand that the EU is, of necessity, a law based community.

If I may be so bold as to translate Barnier's response into plainer English. He asks why the UK expects the EU to dismantle the single market for the convenience of the UK as it leaves the club in a fit of misconceived ideological pique?

Stay safe and stay tuned.

8 February 2020

So the UK has finally left the EU.

Bojo has made a Churchilian speech about how the UK, unrestrained, is now on the cusp of untold wealth and return to its former Imperial glory.

According to HMG there is now no such thing as Brexit. It's a done job and all officials are banned from using the term and a raft of other terms from the EU glossary.

The cake is eaten, long live the cake!

England and her proud language have escaped a fate worse than death.

Meanwhile, Michel Barnier waits calm, lucid, and respectful in the wings for the start of an epic contest which will, by end year, see the final demise of the UK as a self-respecting entity or the beginning of the crumbling of the European Project.

The parties have set out their red-lined incompatible demands. Bojo, of all people, has already accused the EU of bad faith for not coming through with a supposed offer of access to the single market without observing any of its necessary disciplines.

Bojo/Cummings getting their retaliation in first?

Stay tuned. This promises to be every bit as entertaining as Kent Walton's ITV wrestling of old.

26 December 2019

As you will gather from checking out the last date below, I finally got completely pissed off with the whole thing.

The stress of watching the UK continually self-harm got too much for me. Incredibly a sufficient number of the electorat, not quite a majority, were foolish enough to be taken in by Bojo's gambols to put him, and his greedy power-mad backers, back into No. 10 with a clear run at Brexit. The opposition in general, despite some notable exceptions, were equally stupid not to allow for the perversity of their electoral system and effectively pool their resources.

UK governance in general, public service & judiciary & regulatory system, was either too slow, or maybe even reluctant, to deal with the threat to democracy posed not just recently but over the whole period since Bojo's lying dispatches from Brussels all those years ago.

I would be basking in schadenfreude were it not for the fact that these idiots are buggering up my country as well as their own.

As you will have gathered I share the sentiments expressed a wee while ago by Donald Tusk, as mediated by Matt above.

And I look forward to Claire Hanna's maiden speech in the House of Commons being engraved in full on Bojo's tombstone. And the sooner the better.

11 October 2019

Following the surprise meeting between Bojo and the Taoiseach, where they spent some three hours together without officials, a pathway to a deal has apparently emerged. Whatever it is it would need to pass muster with the Article50 negotiating team (Barnier) as these negotiations are an EU competence, but also with the UK Parliament, whose current deadline is 19 October 2019.

I have read reports from Tony Connelly & Tommy Gorman (both RTÉ) and am still at a loss to see how NI could be incorporated in the decision making on an ongoing basis without blowing a hole in CU/SM or bringing in a hard border on the island.

The only thing I can come up with is that NI be got to agree, once and for all, that the backstop apply solely to NI and not UK as appears to be the case as at present. In other words May's original deal. But there is no mechanism for NI deciding that at present. A hurried conference of party leaders perhaps with a push from Sec State NI?

I'm dying to see what all this is about. Two angles to watch in particular (i) Boris is completely untrustworthy, and (ii) can he stick with whatever was mooted without showing Cummings the door.

A deal scuppers Remain but it is probably better than what is likely to kick in at the end of the month in the absence of one. You'd never know what the Bojo gang might have up their sleeves as long as Cummings is around and no doubt the EU will not want to face the prospect of a reluctant member in electioneering mode.

7 October 2019

Bojo, is now not only threatening the NI/IRL peace and economy but he is declaring immediate and terrible all out war on Europe (EU).

He has gone beyond threatening to refuse to nominate a Commissioner and thereby paralysing the EU if there is an extension and the UK is held captive within the Union against HIS will.

He is now proposing (per kite flown by No.10) all out war by sending in the wrecking ball to bring down the whole structure. He intends using all UK representatives at all levels of the Union to wreak havoc and bring the house down.

It remains to be seen if this threat is enough to bring any one Member State to refuse the UK the extension it will be obliged to seek in the absence of a deal. Apart from Bojo phoning around all Member Heads of State and Government, there are additional campaigns being waged which are specifically directed at the Hungarian and Polish Governments.

No doubt Bojo, and his "helper" Kamikaze Kummings, are also working on a draft answer to any EU question about what they would do with an extension if granted. The aim here would be to make the offer an answer it had to refuse. Skinning the cat, #101.

And where is Queenie in all of this? Will she finally be moved to sack him?

Bojo says if he is removed/sacked he'll ignore it and just carry on.

Time for the MET to storm No.10 instead of the Ecuadorian embassy?

25 September 2019

Lady Hale, President of UK Supreme Court

Yesterday's UK Supreme Court decision was really something. I don't think many people expected the court to find against Bojo de Piffle. Nobody expected a uninanimous verdict on all counts.

The court found Bojo's request to the Queen for a prorogation of Parliament unlawful because he didn't give adequate reasons for needing it.

I think the court may have been influenced by the lack of affidavits attesting to the reason for the sought prorogation.

In any event, the court found the prorogation unlawful. Parliament is not prorogued and is still in session.

It remains to be seen how Parliament uses the extra time at it's disposal. Irrespective of this, a point has been made.

Extracts from the judgement:

34. Fourthly, if the issue before the court is justiciable, deciding it will not offend against the separation of powers. As we have just indicated, the court will be performing its proper function under our constitution. Indeed, by ensuring that the Government does not use the power of prorogation unlawfully with the effect of preventing Parliament from carrying out its proper functions, the court will be giving effect to the separation of powers.

50.For the purposes of the present case, therefore, the relevant limit upon the power to prorogue can be expressed in this way: that a decision to prorogue Parliament (or to advise the monarch to prorogue Parliament) will be unlawful if the prorogation has the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive. In such a situation, the court will intervene if the effect is sufficiently serious to justify such an exceptional course.

59. The unchallenged evidence of Sir John Major is clear.

65.The first point to note is that these are Acts of Parliament. It is one of the principal roles of the courts to interpret Acts of Parliament. A recent example of this Court interpreting article 9 is R v Chaytor [2010] UKSC 52; [2011] 1 AC 684. The case concerned the prosecution of several Members of Parliament for allegedly making false expenses claims. They resisted this on the ground that those claims were “proceedings in Parliament” which ought not to be “impeached or questioned” in any court outside Parliament.

Source: The full Supreme Court Judgement

17 September 2019

Britain will break out of the European Union’s “manacles” like The Incredible Hulk if a Brexit deal cannot be struck by the end of next month, Boris Johnson has said.
No comment!

16 September 2019

Just thought to say a few words about Yellowhammer. This is the collective name given to a series of reports, compiled by British civil servants, setting out the impact of Brexit. Whether it is a base scenario or a reasonable worst case scenario seems to vary with when you got your copy and which side of the Scottish border you got it on.

The message is that it is going to be grim, despite vast numbers of civil servants and others in the private sector working on mitigation.

Now, the cartoon above from Charlie Hebdo way back was primarily aimed at sovereignty but the cartoonist has cleverly anticipated some of the problems of the island economy. The last and only tin of peas has now been consumed. The toilet paper will soon run out. And the absence of the Polish plumber is clear for all to see.

Police leave will be cancelled as it was on this day in 1972 in Dublin. That did not avoid a conflagration on British soil then. We'll see if the Bobbies (PC49 and colleagues) do better this time round.

The British Government tried to keep Yellowhammer secret, the vista was so appalling. However it came up against two problems. It appears some civil servant whose loyalty was, correctly, to the people, and not the corrupt government, leaked the report. Then rebel MPs forced the government to release it. It appears, however, that what the government released was in summary form and redacted on top of that.

Meanwhile, the slippery Michael Gove, who is responsible for Brexit preparations, was fending off attacks from Hilary Benn's Parliamentary Brexit Committee. Policy matters were above his pay scale. Preparations were going well and if everybody behaved as they ought there would be no problem.

Mind you, listening to him, and he appeared to be on top of his brief, and to others appearing before other committees, the Brits really appear to be pulling out all the stops.

I wonder are we, on this side of the Irish sea, as prepared?

14 September 2019

Click on image for a more readable version

Brexit is becoming so Alice in Wonderland, and midnight is yet again about to strike, that some people have taken leave of their senses. Or to put it another way, some perfectly sane people have taken a breather in temporary insanity.

The composer of the Guardian's Cryptic Crossword has been indulging in some Enigma variations where those solving the mystery in full get a very cryptic message referring to Brexit. I have Kevin Maguire on Twitter to thank for drawing my attention to that.

When I saw it I wondered why such a sensible message should be limited to the Guardian's crossword.

So I had a go at one of my own, above.

The only other significant news is that the Scottish Court of Appeal has effectively found the Prorogation of Parliament unlawful as Boris de Piffle lied to the Queen about why he wanted it.

The UK Supreme Court (Law Lords) is to pronounce on this on Tuesday. Needless to say, despite their sound judgement, the Scottish judges have been accused of being biassed by the wider Bojo circle (including the press). My view is that the UK Supreme Court overturning the verdict would be very biassed. But we'll see. Not holding my breath.

8 September 2019


The issue was raised on 23/8/19 when the UK said it would not nominate a candidate to the new Commission as it was leaving on 31/10/19. The UK also said that it had no objection to the nominating process going ahead for the new (27 member - post Brexit) Commission for 1/11/19.

But, were an extension of UK membership to be agreed, the UK would be required to nominate a Commissioner, unless the Council (28) agreed unanimously to change the number to 27.

UK PM now says that he will not nominate a Commissioner, and will refuse to agree to change the number from 28. In this event, the new Commission would not be legally constituted and it and the EU would be paralysed, unless it refused an extension and got rid of the UK.

On the face of it, this argument seems sound, at least insofar as TEU Art.17 and EUCO 176/12 are concerned, unless there is a global saver somewhere else in the Treaties which can be invoked.

TEU 17.5 says
5. As from 1 November 2014, the Commission shall consist of a number of members, including its President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, corresponding to two thirds of the number of Member States, unless the European Council, acting unanimously, decides to alter this number.

The members of the Commission shall be chosen from among the nationals of the Member States on the basis of a system of strictly equal rotation between the Member States, reflecting the demographic and geographical range of all the Member States. This system shall be established unanimously by the European Council in accordance with Article 244 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The idea at the time was that, starting with the Commission of 1/11/2014 (the current Commission), a rotating system of Commissioners would be introduced with the total number of Commissioners equal to two thirds of the number of Member States.

Ireland objected to this and as a result the Council took a unanimous decision to maintain the earlier system of one Commissioner per Member State.
The Commission shall consist of a number of members, including its President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, equal to the number of Member States.
EUCO 176/12
So that remains the current position unless the numbers are changed by a unanimous Council decision.

It would be quite ironic if Ireland's insistence on holding on to its Commissioner in the run up to Lisbon 2, now resulted in the EU having to refuse the UK an extension in order for the EU itself to continue functioning.

7 September 2019

We now appear to have a piece of legislation about to go on the books which will oblige the UK Prime Minister, in the absence of a prior agreed deal, to seek an extension from the EU under Article 50 until 31 January 2020. How that will pan out and whether the EU27 will agree to the request remains to be seen.

Under today's heading I would like to touch on two themes: the processing of the Bill through the House of Lords and the options open to the current Prime Minister.

House of Lords

I watched virtually the full passage of the Bill through the House of Lords with my heart in my mouth. I have brought legislation through both houses of the Irish Parliament more than once and I found it nerve wracking. You never know what is going to come out of the woodwork and you are always nervous you have missed something in the drafting. To change even a punctuation mark in a piece of legislation, once passed, requires the whole process to be repeated.

I remember once a Senator found a defect in a piece of legislation I was piloting through the upper house. I hadn't copped it so I had to admit the mistake and accept an amendment, which meant that the amended Bill had to go back to the Dáil (lower house) to be passed before it could be submitted for the President's signature into law.

I was mortified in front of my Minister. Fortunately the whips and the leader of the opposition, Alan Dukes, were able to come to an agreement to nod it through the next morning in the Dáil. That left a permanent scar on my psyche to this day. So I was sitting on the edge of my chair for the passage of this Bill through the Lords.

The atmosphere was tense from the word go. The Bill's promoters decided to go for a guillotine motion to get the Bill through by closing on Friday. Now, apparently there had never been a guillotine in the Lords before and many members felt that they were being asked to accept a radical change in the Lords' "constitution" without the usual due process (seeking the advice of the legal committee, etc.).

The debate became very heated and was only calmed down hours later when it was announced that there had been a (voluntary/back-channel) agreement between the whips in both houses, that the Lords would conclude the business by 5pm on Friday. Up to that point, things were not looking good.

Lord Wallace of Saltire

I mentioned earlier Lord Kerr's dissection of Bojo and the matter of trust. This was a theme picked up by Lord Wallace.

He made the point that the Bill was necessary because nobody could trust this Government. He also made the point that the best advice proffered in good faith by conscientious civil servants was systematically disregarded, as was the evidence backing it up. The latest example was the Yellowhammer Report, prepared by civil servants, outlining the impact of a no deal Brexit. Because it didn't suit their current narrative, the Government tried to suppress it.

He recalled that when he was in Government, the Conservatives called for a study of the balance of powers between the UK and EU, I think in the business sector. Their expectation was that the result would underpin a campaign to scream for the repatriation of many powers from Brussels. When the study found that the balance was just about right, they tried to suppress the findings.

They trumpeted the immigration "problem" as being European, when it was global, etc.

So, why am I giving Lord Wallace so much space. Well I have to declare an interest. I've known William since 1967. Yes, William. He wanted to take the title Lord William Wallace, but they wouldn't let him. Good guy.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

This Lord took issue with the Kinnock amendment which had been "accidentally" inserted into the Bill because the government (I think) failed to provide tellers for a Commons division and the amendment passed by default.

The gist of it was to state that the purpose of an extension would be to allow Parliament to discuss, during the extension, a variant on the May deal that had not hitherto seen the light of day. The government received legal advice that the amendment was out of kilter with the Bill and therefore inoperable/harmless.

Lord Forsyth made a very strong case that the House should not pass legislation it knew to be defective and that there would be plenty of time on Monday to pass the amended Bill through the Commons. He therefore argued very strongly to have it taken out. He pressed this to a division but the mood music was against him and he lost. I must say I agreed with him on this and I don't think we've heard the last of this particular clusterfuck by a long shot.

The Bill has been described by many in both Houses as a masterful piece of drafting but, after the Lords had a go at it, it appeared to be just barely fit for purpose.

Text of Bill as submitted to, and passed by, the House of Lords.

Lord James of Blackheath

Lord James came up with the interesting theory that the House had not been a legitimate body since the Lisbon Treaty from which point the Lords had been in breach of their oath, and that this illegitimacy went right up to the Monarch.

If he was right, he said, then the House could not pass the Bill. But he didn't push the matter to a division. The underlying problem is of the sovereignty of the Monarch and Parliament. I'm sure there must be a tome on this somewhere.

Lord True

Then to cap it all, just as they were nearing winding up, there was an amendment, out of the blue, from Lord True which stipulated that the Bill would not come into operation until after a general election. This did not go down well with the House where some branded it a "wrecker's amendment", which it was.

Lord True said it's purpose was to flush out those individual Lords who were for or against this "democratic" proposal. He pressed it to a division so that a list of supporters and opponents would be available. Needless to say the amendment was lost.

It was good to see that Chris Patten could sit through all this and not lose his sense of humour, referring to himself in his contribution as a "former colonial despot".

One thing that was referred to more than once was the possibility of the Prime Minister requesting an extension in conformity with the legislation and then voting against it in the European Council. I thought it took overlong for it to be firmly pointed out that this would be impossible as the UK does not have a vote in Council when Article 50 matters are being discussed. However, as I point out below, there is more than one way to skin a cat (sorry, pussy).

I had never watched the Lords in action before and it was an interesting experience. The quality of the contributions varied but the standard overall was high. I was interested to see that among those who spoke there was a fair number who had experience of the EU at political or official level or both.

Bojo de Piffle

So what will Bojo do when this is passed, assuming it is sent to the Queen and receives the Royal Assent?

It is unlikely that there will be any UK/EU agreement ratified by both sides before crash-out day. So this legislation will require the Prime Minister of the day to seek an extension, whether or not the EU is willing to give one. Bojo has said he will die in a ditch before he requests one. So how is he to get around this?

Well, the ditch may just be a turn of phrase. Just like the lying down in front of the bulldozers at Heathrow turned out to be.

He might just resign and leave it to someone else to go "begging to Brussels".

He is anxious for an immediate general election which would either return someone else as PM or give him a new mandate when he could try and overturn the legislation. But the opposition is unlikely to give him the opportunity for an election before crash-out day under any circumstances. They are anxious that he face the consequences of his own mess and not be able to go to the people claiming negotiations are going swimmingly in Brussels. He has to be found out first.

The stark consequences for Bojo of breaking the law, at least some of them, are set out in his blog by David Allen Green, lawyer and writer.

Click on image for a larger version

However there is more than one way to skin a cat, if you'll pardon the phrase. This man is a Polish born British Conservative MP. He has already done this, unsuccessfully, in February 2019. He is, unsurprisingly a supporter of Jacob Rees Mogg. Roger Casement would envy him his fate.

Bojo does seem under a lot of stress recently and his longstanding ability to wing it is wearing thin in his new environment. One journalist has hinted, however tentatively, at the possibility of Bojo being in a mood altered state.

We'll see.

5 September 2019

Lord Kerr

After much huffing and puffing in both the House of Commons and in the Lords, it looks as though an Act can be sorted which will, on the face of it at least, oblige the Prime Minister to avoid a no-deal Brexit on 31 October next. There may yet be many a slip between the cup and the lip, not least of these a General Election if Bojo de Piffle gets his way. I hope Corbyn can hold his nerve and parliamentary support until after 31 October.

The issue here is one of trust and it is not clear what wheezes our Dominic may pull out of the hat, including getting Bojo to just ignore any legislative imperative. Should that happen, nobody seems to be sure what would come next in the absence of a written/codified constitution.

In the Lords this morning Lord Kerr, graphically spelled out the delicacy of the current house of cards. John Kerr was the UK's Permanent Representative in Brussels where he was highly respected. He was also the author/drafter of the Article 50 procedure. It is well worth taking a little time to check out his speech today (18 minutes).

I wrote the above many moons ago but I have as yet no reason to change it.

3 September 2019

You never know your luck. Sufficient rebels have been mustered in Parliament to ensure support for a motion allowing for a bill to be introduced and debated, which if it cleared the full legislative path (Commons, Lords & Royal Assent) would apparently tie Bojo down to avoiding a no deal Brexit.

It's a significant step but it is not clear if the bill's passage can be achieved in time to stymie a crash out on 31 October. If it was, there is still the EU hurdle to overcome. Though it is likely the EU would give an extension for a few months particularly for a new referendum or an election, or ratification of May's deal.

What if they refused. UK would then be faced with an no-deal exit, May's deal, or revoking the Article 50 notification.

A number of the Tory defections are attributed to the arrogant behaviour of the creepy Rees Mogg (see above). But no doubt Bojo's lies about making progress in the "negotiations" with the EU on the Backstop, and the all too visible over-reach of the evil Dominic Cummings made a significant contribution.

Things are getting interesting.

29 August 2019

Thanks to whoever did the original mashup

The denouement approaches. Bojo de Piffle has consolidated his No.10 coup. He has a totally compliant Cabinet, and the devil himself, Dominic Cummings, as his Chief Advisor/Plotter/Chef de Cabinet. He has a completely united team as members are now all singing from the same hymn sheet no matter what they held/said previously.

The anti-no-deal Parliamentarians are divided in their squabbles over the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Meanwhile Bojo's team have been assiduously working on a brazen ultra-efficient plan to limit, if not rule out altogether, the time available to Parliament to do anything to block a no-deal exit. Don't forget, if nothing happens on the UK/EU front by 31/10//19, UK is OUT.

Yesterday Bojo kicked off the plan by requesting the Queen to prorogue Parliament for a month. He has a number of other wheezes to disrupt or squeeze out opportunities to debate/act on Brexit.

Much to the Queen's shame, she acceded to this request, fully aware of its motivation to deprive Parliament of any further say in Brexit (the biggest challenge/issue since the Civil War etc.). So the Monarch has proved herself useless at defending the sovereignty of Parliament against a coup.

The chances of a no-deal Brexit must now be heading for 90%, if not 100%, and nobody is ready for it, except perhaps the m/billionaire clique betting on it.

Bojo insists he is seeking a new deal from the EU. In my view this is just a blind to keep some supporters in line, confuse the opposition, and stack the cards for the blame game to follow (Irish/EU wouldn't compromise).

I have already said that the deal negotiated with Theresa May is the maximum compromise possible, consistent with the EU's obligation to protect the Customs Union and the Single Market and the joint obligations of the Irish, and particularly the UK, Governments as co-guarantors of the Belfast Agreement. If the UK thinks it ties their hands unnecessarily, then they should examine their conscience on the NI/IRL border issue.

The fact that this Withdrawal Agreement has been completely misrepresented by the UK, that the UK appears not to understand its international obligations, and that it is lying through its teeth most of the time, does not make the Withdrawal Agreement any the less of a compromise on the part of the EU.

Johnny Foreigner must be really pissed off with these posturing Brits.

Just by the way, when I realised there might soon be a vacancy for a British Poet Laureate, I thought to put pen to paper in case I decided to apply. Concretising some thoughts (inspiration) that came to me while I sat trapped on the loo, I penned this little ditty.

Then the Craven Queen went and spoiled it on me.

C'est la vie.

Back to the drawring board.

8 July 2019

It is looking more and more like we are heading for a no deal Brexit. At least that is the fast approaching default, due to kick in on Halloween as the souls of the dead pay their respects, or otherwise, to the living.

What can stop a no deal at Halloween?
  1. a further extension of Art 50 notification
  2. a funk by the new PM
  3. Revocation of Article 50 notification
  4. a funk by the EU
  5. UK Parliament ruling it out (+ EU extension)
But it is difficult at this stage to see any of these happening. So should we be bracing ourselves for a hard Brexit, a hard border and hard times?

12 June 2019

Listen to Liz Truss fronting for Boris and attempting to deflect John Humphrys with her repetition of pro-Boris ejaculations. From BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

11 June 2019

I haven't had the heart to keep up with UK madness for the last month or so. It just keeps getting worse.

However, this piece in the Guardian caught my eye. It will bring you fully up to date.

7 May 2019

18 April 2019

Following Theresa May's latest ritual humiliation in Brussels, the Mother of Parliaments has now gone on an Easter bazz-off.

This follows the UK getting a flexible extension of its current EU membership until the end of October. The flexible bit is the extension running out should Parliament ratify the current EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement before then.

This is getting messier. It looks as though the UK will now have to participate in the European Parliament elections on 23 May. This suits nobody.

The EU had already provisionally allocated what were expected to be additional seats among the 27. I assume the 27 will only be able to elect to these places on a provisional basis, the seats to then be taken up by them if and when the UK leaves.

Meanwhile the UK will be electing members who must expect to have a very short shelf life. And the extreme Brexiteers are threatening disruption along the way including in the new European Parliament insofar as they get elected to it.

Little wonder the EU is completely pissed off with the Brits. Eurocouncil President Tusk must be biting his tongue when he attributes good faith to them in public.

And how on God's earth do you get good candidates to stand under these circumstances.

British carry-on is actually threatening the stability and future existence of the EU itself, some would say true to form.

Lyra McKee

I have no wish to "weaponise" this young lady's death, but it is a reminder both of Northern Ireland's past and of how delicate the current "peace" there is.

And, of course, Brexit is attempting to ignore Northern Ireland, after the practice of the UK Parliament up to the imposition of direct rule in the early 1970s, or it is making promises in this regard which are inconsistent with its own other red lines. And this is why the Withdrawal Agreement is failing to be ratified.

31 March 2019

Receipt for subscription to Dáil Bonds

Ireland is currently in the middle of a decade of centenaries, commemorating the period 1912 to 1922, a period which saw the emergence of a firmly based independence movement.

One of the things that amazes me from this time is the successful establishment of a fully fledged counter state under the nose of the British administration. There was a fully working parliament (Dáil) with political oversight, a treasury (Department of Finance) to ensure adequate funding, a series of parallel government departments from Local Government to Labour, and a network of Republican courts which earned the confidence of the people.

And this was a state on the run, subject to raids, harassment, confiscation and arrest by the British authorities.

My purpose in raising the matter here is to compare the effectiveness of this state on the run with that of the current "democratic" British state with its "mother of parliaments" and a host of other accoutrements going back centuries.

Just a few of the current basket cases

The UK is currently totally paralysed in the face of the apparently simple task of leaving the EU. Nobody is stopping them. There is, however, the small matter of paying the bill as they walk out the door - and this is not a fine for leaving, more like the check for a meal consumed. This would be a normal feature of any civilised society. Then there is the small matter of ensuring the well being of foreign guests on the premises and that of UK citizens abroad. Again a normal feature of the diplomatic world we live in. And the small matter of living up to obligations entered into with a neighbouring state, albeit while both were members of the wider entity.

Within these parameters the UK can more or less walk out the door and do what it likes even if this is not to its own long term benefit.

But hang on a minute. It is being told that it cannot leave the EU customs union or the EU single market. Of course it can, but provided it keeps an open (frictionless?) land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland as it is effectively obliged to do since signing up to the Good Friday Agreement with Ireland. This is first and foremost a bilateral matter between the UK and Ireland. But Ireland is a member of the EU and so of its customs union and single market.

To keep an open land border, either Northern Ireland or the UK as a whole needs to remain a member of, or replicate the conditions of the CU or the SM. This is a fact of life. It is not an arbitrary constraint imposed in a fit of pique by the EU. It arises out of the structure of the EU combined with the ongoing obligations of the UK.

Apparently nobody in the UK thought about any of this before embarking on a referendum about leaving the EU, or shooting off a timebomb notification to leave. That's not the fault of the Irish or of the Europeans. It just goes to show that the UK, in general, knew very little about the organisation of which she had been a member for over forty years.

Gordon Brewster's 1930 prescient cartoon

So, when push came to shove she put the convenience of the Tory party above the welfare of her own citizens and those of the neighbouring state. Small wonder the party is coming apart at the seams.

The current paralysis is of her own making. I am reminded of Pavlov's dogs who their owner drove mad by feeding them conflicting signals until their brains blew a fuse. At least the dogs had an excuse. They didn't bring it on themselves.

18 March 2019

Just to remind ourselves why we are where we are.

The British Prime Minister of the day (Cameron) promised a referendum on EU membership in order to avoid a split in the Conservative Party. He was amazed when his partner in coalition (Nick Clegg) didn't stop him honouring this promise and the referendum went ahead. It was fought on totally misleading grounds in an atmosphere of hostility to the EU cultivated by previous goverments and amplified by a mendacious press.

The referendum was ADVISORY though the government was pledged to implement its verdict. When it became clear that, had the referendum result been obligatory on the government, the referendum itself would have been automatically annulled due to the abuses committed during the campaign, the government nevertheless stuck to its guns in order to avoid splitting the party.

The UK then decided to leave the EU but, suddenly remembering its obligations in relation to Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement, drew up a series of conflicting and irreconcilable red lines as the basis for its withdrawal negotiations with the EU.

And that is why this thing has been going around in circles for the last two years while the clock has been quietly ticking in the background.

I've already named names below and I'll say no more at this stage for fear I'd get arrested.

17 March 2019

With only 12 days to go before the UK falls out of the EU things are just getting weirder and weirder.

Parliament seems to be trying to wrest control of the Brexit process from Theresa May. But parliament is not united on where to go next. All they have succeeded in doing so far is to vote against leaving without a deal. Apart from expressing the will of parliament this is just a useless gesture as UK will automatically fall out of the EU without a deal on 29 March unless: (i) the deal agreed between UK and EU is accepted, or (ii) a postponement of brexit is agreed, or (iii) the Article 50 notification is revoked.

There is nothing more the EU can concede, so May apparently plans a vote on her deal or no deal and is now threatening brexiteers that rejecting her deal could end up with Remain.

The Idiot Cox

Her Attorney General correctly advised her that the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement could result in the UK being "trapped" in the Customs Union and Single Market for ever. So Theresa went back to the EU, cried HELP, agreed some supplementary assurances which might make this less likely and brought these back to parliament.

Meanwhile, the AG, who had been involved in the assurances, comes back with his original legal advice that the "trap" was still there. While this led to him being praised for his honesty and independence it blew May out of the water. It has been pointed out that the vast majority of his income comes from his private legal practice so he has a strong financial incentive to be seen as independent.

Nevertheless he was told to go and think up a way out of the trap and he duly came back with the advice that the day could be saved by a judicious application of the Vienna Convention which contains a provision for reneging on commitments in extreme circumstances. This silly advice was immediately rubbished by every lawyer of standing. So the man has really made a fool of himself.

So has Theresa May in agreeing to something without clearing her lines at home first. And this is not the first time she's done that.

Anyway, we are now on the, Belfast-built, Titanic heading for the iceberg.

I wonder should I take to the bed until after the 29th?

24 February 2019

If you want to catch up just read these two contributions:

Tony Connelly

Ivan Roberts

7 February 2019

Cartoon by Peter Brookes
"I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely."
Donald Tusk

Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, is normally very restrained in his remarks in public. He has made no secret of the fact that he thinks Brexit is a lose-lose option but like most other leaders outside the UK he stresses that, however reluctantly, he must respect a sovereign decision by the UK.

His remark above is both a sign of his, and the EU27's, frustration at the UK, which, having decided to leave, spending over a year in intensive negotiations with the EU27, and agreeing an apparently unratifiable treaty, still wants to have its cake and eat it. It is also a sign that Tusk has come to accept that the UK is definitely leaving the Union and that a revocation of the Article 50 notification is no longer even a faint possibility.

So now, when it comes to the UK negotiating with anybody, including the EU, after 29 March next, they will be doing so as a third country with limited leverage.

May has already opened up a Pandora's box with the decision to leave and particularly with the Article 50 notice of activation. The EU27 and its individual constituent members will be in a position to open up old sores in the course of future negotiations. We have got a foretaste of this in the case of Gibraltar.

Leaving means the UK loses the benefits of membership such as being part of the decision-making apparatus of the EU and benefiting from the bloc's existing trade deals with the rest of the world, not to mention the customs union and the single market. UK even had a discount on its membership fee (the rebate). None of this is likely to be fully replicated no matter what arrangement the UK comes to with the EU.

Check out this article to see the some of the potential for UK self-harm

Anyway the nearer any arrangement got to replication the weaker would be the rationale for the UK leaving in the first place.

Theresa May is now so beleaguered on all sides that she is talking out of ten sides of her mouth, telling conflicting lobbies vague half-truth versions of what they want to hear. That only works if you keep it strictly oral and in silos. Once you have to commit a single solution to paper, you're in trouble.

And that is precisely the trouble with the backstop. It gives priority to keeping an open invisible border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. In the present state of knowledge and practice this means Northern Ireland effectively staying in the customs union and the single market. That's the inevitable logic of the thing. If that means crossing a different red line then that's because your red lines are not mutually consistent and something has to give.

The current mess arises from this not being recognised, or accepted, with the result that mutually inconsistent promises are being made all over the place.

13 January 2019

Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

There I was, leaving big gaps between items and here I am back again the same day. What set me of was this:
BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May has warned of a "catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust" in democracy if MPs reject her Brexit deal and the UK remains in the European Union.
The absolute brass neck of the woman.

The electorate have been fed decades of manure about the EU without any significant opposition from a political class running scared of the media and the snake oil salesmen.

They hold an ADVISORY referendum in which the electorate is not apprised of the issues, where abuse of social media is rampant and where the Leave Campaign drastically, and illegally, overspent.

Had the referendum been other than advisory the result would have been automatically annulled.

Now Tessie, who would deny the electorate a second chance, now that they just may better understand what is involved, this bloody woman has the nerve to even utter the word democracy and try and invoke it to deny the people the chance to save the Kingdom from ruination.

I'm off to take my blood pressure and, depending on the result, the tablets.

13 January 2019

This is getting very scary.

It is quite clear that the British are not fit to govern themselves and that their whole administration is in a shambles. There is no leadership just a bunch of people running scared or obliviously trying to game the system.

There are a few voices of sanity among serving politicians swimming against the tide (eg Ken Clarke & Anna Soubry) but these are either ignored as irrelevant or attacked as subversive.

A former politician for whom I have a lot of time is John Major and he has now made a call:

Click on image for a larger version

I would be happy to see that come about. It would at least remove the ticking clock, give enough time for the British to reflect on the mess they are in and, in their own terms, reflect on whether the Kingdom for which so many fought and died is worth the saving.

In response to Major's call, Roger O'Keeffe, a former EU Commission official and Irish civil servant, has suggested a variant which just might be more acceptable to the British administration & public though it would need also to be agreed by the EU, and it does still leave the clock ticking.

Click on image for a larger version

The CA referred to here is a citizen's assembly such as took place in Ireland prior to recent referenda on amendments to the Irish Constitution. The British don't have a constitution, at least not a readily discernable one, but the cap would fit, mutatis mutandis (ask Boris to explain that whiff of the classics if you are in any doubt of its meaning).

The Irish could always advise here. It would mark a change from the time, before we joined the EEC (EU), when we went to Whitehall in search of best practice (been there, done that).

And just by the way, the continuing fuss over the backstop again underlines the bad faith in which the British are participating in the "negotiations". The Treaty of Limerick has not gone away, you know.

1 January 2019

Many years ago when our children were young, one of those encyclopedia-selling fellows came to the door. He had the usual patter. When I said I really didn't want to buy a set of his books he began to get a bit confrontational - "So you're not interested in your children's education" etc.

Oh, but I was and I invited him in to inspect our collection of Ladybird books. These books were amazing, simple and to the point with full use made of explanatory illustrations. It was there I learnt how a differential in a motor car works and went on to understand it more fully by building one with my son's mechanical LEGO.

He immediately fled the scene.

What you may ask has all of this to do with Brexit?

Well, I was in The Winding Stair at a book launch recently when what did I spot but the Ladybird book of Brexit. And wow, was it a masterpiece. Everything you needed to know inside of a three minute read. I bought it straight away, and now I'm sharing it with you. If you get the chance, buy one and learn it off by heart, the way we Roman Catholics were prepared for emigration to the Pagan England of its day. Then keep it safe. One day it may become as valuable as a mint condition penny black (or are they more valuable with the postmark?).

Note the subtle cover with its delicate treatment of a low key border check. Not exactly frictionless but a lot more civilised than what has faced many an Irish person at Holyhead, particulary if their name was in Irish (Gaeilge).

Click on image for a larger version

Then there is the nub of the matter - taking back control from Johnny Foreigner to whom it was surrendered some forty years ago by the quisling Prime Minister Heath. No matter that many of the constraints imposed by Brussels may have been in the interest of improving health or the environment, or that the UK may have been itself involved in pushing a constraint or two on a reluctant Johnny Foreigner in the process.

And what if the Mammy's unconstrained jam poisons a few of them. They had it coming after what they tried to do to us over recent centuries.

So, if you had any doubts before, you now understand what Brexit is about and how, like cod liver oil, syrup of figs, famel syrup and milk of magnesia, it is really good for you.

[UPDATE 26/11/2019]

I learned just today that there are 21 copies in public libraries throughout Ireland, 15 in Dublin City, 3 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and one each in Cavan, Kilkenny & Sligo.

So my Dublin readers at least have no excuse. But it is worth remembering that any book in the system can be borrowed from any public library in the country. So my country cousins have no excuse either. The book I am currently reading came through the system from County Limerick.

Love the libraries, bless 'em.


The other major development since my November posting is that we are now really into countdown time and neither the government nor the prospective victims of Brexit can hide the truth any longer because it's time to start digging the trenches and manning the AA batteries, or at least buying a few good German ones before the tariffs set in, and start installing them.

And you can't do all of this without being seen. So the extent of the Apocalypse is slowly but surely becoming apparent. Even the currently proposed May/EU deal, were it to be adopted, would involve significant disruption particularly in its initial stages.

And the Brits are now hoisted on their own pétard, or that of their so called leaders. I was just listening to a vox pop from Edinburgh on the radio. The most frequent response to any suggestion of a new referendum was "Oh no, that would be completely against democracy".

That wouldn't run for more than five seconds in any half self-respecting civics class.

Just to recap on where I think we are now. As I understand it, the Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed between the UK and the EU but has not yet been ratified by either side. UK will need agreement of Parliament and that is for them to sort out.

On the EU side:
The EU parliament, including the MEPs from the UK, must consent by simple majority to the Withdrawal Agreement – but does not have the power to amend it. In this case, the Council of the EU needs to adopt it by super-qualified majority. This means it needs to get support of 72% of the 27 participating member states (or 20 member states), and the support must also represent 65% of the population of the 27 member states. Although the UK is still a full member of the EU with full rights in the Council of the EU, it is not participating or taking part in the council’s decisions concerning Brexit.
So Ireland is not in a position to veto this, nor would we likely want to as it contains both a transition period (potentially up to almost four years) and the backstop. The alternative at this stage to the present Withdrawal Agreement would be a no-deal brexit which we certainly do not want.

Assuming the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, the next step would be for UK and EU to agree on their long term relationship. These negotiations are likely to be an open Pandora's box as each of the 27 Member States will have a veto on the final agreement. The backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement will constrain the longer term agreement to arrangements which preserve a frictionless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This could involve Northern Ireland or even the whole UK staying within the Customs Union and the Single Market (or some equivalent arrangement) depending on what is politically acceptable at the time.

If, on the other hand, the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by both sides the UK will drop out of the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019 unless the UK's Article 50 notification is withdrawn (which UK can do unilaterally) or extended (for which UK would need unanimous agreement of the 27 EU Member States).

A no-deal brexit would be chaotic with the UK immediately frozen out of economic & financial activity in the EU until some deals could be done. In the meantime presumably WTO rules would apply covering a limited number of sectors and the EU has already drawn up limited proposals to prevent utter chaos provided these are reciprocated by the UK.

The mutual rights of citizens and the financial settlement, originally covered in the rejected Withdrawal Agreement, would be up for grabs.

The whole thing reminds me of Windscale. Clearly I am too old and should shuffle off this mortal coil before it strangles me.

4 November 2018

It's a year to the day since I first posted here.

With the clock about to strike, we are not a lot further down the road, at least as far as a reasonable outcome is concerned.

The British Government seems totally paralysed and the blame game is intensifying. For instance, David Davis, former Brexit Secretary, has more or less admitted that the British have been talking rubbish all along but, in a calculating way, have been doing it politely so that they can then blame the EU for not making concessions.

Brendan Howlin, Irish Labour Party leader, is now voicing a note of caution regarding the solidarity of the 26 with Ireland on the border question. He is worried that EU has managed to organise matters so that the border becomes the crunch issue, and the only one holding up agreement, and that it will be very tempting for them to give way on it rather than risk a hard Brexit which is in nobody's interest. I have been worried about that from the outset.

My feeling was that the backstop could only be agreed in the context of overall future trading arrangements and that the one "agreed" last December effectively meant the UK staying permanently in the customs union and the single market. No wonder the UK has been furiously attempting to backtrack on it since.

So what next. Search me. I'm a remainer and for that reason would like to see the Article 50 notification period extended rather than aiming for a longer transition period. That way there might be time for the UK to come to its senses and avoid Brexit altogether. A forlorn hope I fear.

23 September 2018

This is just how nuts it gets. Theresa May has cobbled together a "plan" that is weak enough, she hopes, to get through her cabinet, but that everybody knows is not acceptable to the EU (unless they are prepared to completely undermine the 60+ year old European project) and that does nothing to preserve a frictionless border on the Island of Ireland.

The Europeans politely state their position which has been clear all along but about which they have been relatively restrained in order to allow May room to manoeuvre and in the hope the Brits can be brought to their senses.

May throws a hissy fit, claims to have been grievously insulted, even ambushed, and goes home effing and blinding Europe. The British tabloids amplify the blame game. These are the same tabloids who were calling British judges traitors for asserting the supremacy of Parliament - the only fig leaf in the British "Constitution".

Why did the Good Lord plonk us in the ocean right beside these people.

I have to stop. Neuron 42 is about to blow and might fuse the whole motherboard.

Meanwhile >>>>

2 September 2018

Waiting for Godot

Well, a bit like the last time, not a lot has been happening in terms of progress on Brexit, in the sense of knowing what it's going to be about, assuming it happens, and preparations for a hard brexit if it does without a withdrawal agreement and a firm purpose of something or other.

The main thing that has been happening is that the clock is ticking relentlessly, as they do other than at crisis EU Summits when it can apparently be stopped in its tracks like the Fatima sun.

I suppose we not only appear no nearer a solution/settlement but in reality things have got a bit worse.

Divide et Impera

So far, Theresa May has failed to charm EU leaders into breaking ranks on their resolve to maintain the integrity of the European project come what may (sic). We'll just have to see what happens when it goes to the wire.

Squabbling Paddies

The British have made it clear that they don't give a hoot about Northern Ireland as such in the wider context of the self-harm which is brexit. We are almost back in the days when the North could be left to sink or swim while Westminster's "bodhar Uí Laoghaire" precluded it from interfering in the régime's "internal affairs".

If you want to follow up on this here's a good piece to get you thinking.


Looked at another way, hostility to the Irish is hotting up across the water. Jacob Rees Mogg is to the fore here, denigrating us at every turn. And who or what is this guy you might ask? I have seen him described as a rural MP whose father was famous. But he clearly has Theresa May worried as he has assumed the mantle of spokesman for the brexiteers.

He threatens to open up the UK's (trade !) borders and leave it to Ireland to introduce border controls if it wants to. Of course the border with Northern Ireland becomes an external border of the EU when the UK leaves and someone has to man it in the event of a hard brexit which seems to be what he wants. The wonder is he hasn't yet compared us to Planet of the Apes. Those particular apes are probably too intelligent?

Rhythm & Blues Party

At last, Ireland looks like having its own Brexit-type political party, the Rhythm & Blues Party - rhythm denoting a timely Irish withdrawal from EU and blues denoting the grief to follow. Mind you there will be nearly as much grief for us staying in the EU in the face of a hard brexit. Anyway they are calling themselves the Irexit Freedom Party and are led by Ray Bassett, a former Irish ambassador; and Ray Kinsella, a UCD professor. Hermann Kelly, a former journalist and now head of communications at the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group of MEPs in Brussels, will be the party’s spokesman.

It remains to be seen how they do, particularly when the implications for Ireland of a hard brexit surface in the public domain. There has, unfortunately been a lack of intelligent and informed debate here on the pros and cons of Irish EU membership over the years. We joined with the Brits with very little choice in the matter and our membership was marketed to the public on the basis of Paddy Hillery's CAP and the long runs and support sustained through our (very) net beneficiary status. Now the UK may be (very) out and we are net contributors to the budget. We are neither emotionally nor intellectually prepared to deal with this. So wait for the sparks and the debate descending into nasty ad hominem if the new party looks like getting any traction.

Dublin time, Trump time

To finish today on a lighter note. I have alluded elsewhere to historical Dublin time, following a visit to Galway city way back. Well it may well be back in the news again after brexit. The EU is thinking of abolishing the annual clock change, in which direction I'm not sure. But, anyway, this would put us out of synch with the UK for half of each year, assuming they didn't follow suit.

It could, of course, get a lot worse, if, as part of one of genius Liam Fox's trade deals the UK went over to EST, and I don't mean European Standard Time.

In the course of my work I have dealt with the Bretton Woods Institutions in Washington - IMF & World Bank. And believe you me, it is very frustrating. You can't get them in the morning and just as you are about to go to lunch they come on stream and you get caught up in their preparations for their afternoon board meetings. And then if the issue is critical you are expected to, or sometimes need to be around for backup and the outcome. Imagine this scenario intruding across all of our dealing with the UK, including Northern Ireland.

And to top it all, the lazy bastards would be getting a five hour lie in, every morning.

2 July 2018

I'm really thinking hard, trying to find something new to say, but largely to no avail.

The only development beyond what I have set out below is that the UK Cabinet is now even more openly divided than before; the Lords took a positive stand, as far as it goes, but the Commons have buckled and passed a Withdrawal Bill. I don't know what's in it, but it's probably irrelevant.

The message is that disaster looms even closer as the moral depravity of the Cabinet and the incompetence of the UK Government is embarrassingly revealed for all to see.

How ever did they run an Empire? Well, we are learning more by the day about the violence and incompetence, not to mention the greedy resource extraction, of this particular project. Not one to hark back to I'm afraid.

6 February 2018

I'm really not sure why I'm adding this latest entry, as nothing much has changed, though time is quickly running out. I reread the stuff below and it still all seems valid. I suppose the only development is that the "negotiations" have moved on to Phase 2 which is to firm up the "agreement" at the end of Phase 1 into a legal document and also to agree on a transition period to follow UK withdrawal.

What sounds like some minimal progress is, however, illusory as the UK have been negotiating in bad faith and the "agreement" is not worth the paper it's written on. It is being clawed back by the day and as a result a hard border looms. The UK's divided government still seems to think it is in a bubble where it can pull all the strings and Johnny Foreigner will do as he is told.

The only thing that surprises me is that the UK, in boasting about how its new (to be found) freedom will permit it to enter into blissful trade agreements with all and sundry, is not factoring in its loss of (i) its trade agreement (customs union and single market) with the EU but also (ii) all those trade agreements between the EU and third parties from which it benefits at present through its EU membership.

The picture below sums up where I think we're at and it looks like these idiots are going to pull us down along with them.

3 December 2017

A month is a long time in this game. But it appears that the divorce bill is nearing a settlement though there is reputed to be still some way to go on citizens' mutual rights.

The Irish question, however, remains as intractable as ever. This is because there is effectively no solution which can satisfy the requirements of the three parties concerned, UK, Ireland and EU.

With the deadline approaching fast for a decision on progressing to Phase 2 of the negotiations there appears to be no conceivable progress in sight.

Boris has a plan

As far as the UK is concerned, their position on this issue appears to be hardening, if anything. The Brexiteers are fearing a fudge which will amount to less than completely leaving the EU (replicating the customs-union/single-market, accepting any significant role for the ECJ, etc.). The rhetoric is ramping up with the Brexiteers particularly blaming the EU (which is seen to be acting punitively) or the Irish (who are getting above themselves).

The EU claim they are standing foursquare behind the Irish but how far this suupport will extend if the Irish question remains a stumbling block is not clear.

Ireland appears to have two shots at a veto on the negotiations. The first of these is on progress to Phase 2, and this is where the EU is loudly proclaiming its support for the Irish position whatever that may turn out to be. Clearly Ireland is the Member State most exposed to Brexit. In terms of trade alone we are hugely dependent on the UK, not just for our trading with them but for our trading through them (transit).

It is hard to see how our trade will not be dealt a body blow unless the UK remains in the customs union or replicates it from the outside. The UK appears committed not to do either. Given this stance, the talk so far has concentrated on how border crossings can be smoothed, even to the extent of mutterings about "frictionless" borders. Granted there may be scope for arrangements expediting border crossings but they will still involve delays and more bureaucracy.

But sight appears to have been lost of the actual effect of the borders, disparity in customs duties and in standards, particularly in relation to their effects on production and on competitiveness and therefore on trade patterns. The upcoming disruption and devastation seems to me to be enormous and unavoidable unless some side caves in.

Ireland, in particular, is between a rock and a hard place. If we exercise the veto on progress to the next stage of the negotiations we only increase the chances of the UK crashing out of the EU without arrangements on trade and this would not be to our advantage. In fact, and the Brexiteers seem blind to this, Ireland's interest lies in the softest and most advantageous exit for the UK from the EU.

The EU, nevertheless, needs to maintain the integrity of the customs union and the single market if it, itself, is to survive Brexit. That's why I'm not sure how long their solidarity with us will last in the face of UK intransigence.

And finally there is the particular subset of Northern Ireland which, at the moment seems to have escalated to the status of the main, if not the only problem. Brexit will have a horrendous impact on both North and South unless the relationship between these two areas is given some sort of special status and it is difficult to see how this can happen without affecting the North's position within the UK and/or subverting the integrity of the customs-union/single-market.

So what is likely to happen in the next few days/weeks. My guess is a pious fudge which Ireland will swallow to avoid something worse (ie UK crashing out of EU or Ireland losing the support of the other 26). When push comes to shove Ireland is very exposed and we are not unmindful of the lack of EU solidarity in the financial crisis when the immediate interests of some of the big players was threatened.

And when all is said and done at the level of the European Council, there is still the European Parliament to consider and the eventual ratification process in the 27 Member States where each, including Ireland, will have a veto [?], and in the UK House of Commons (& House of Lords?).

Update 02/01/2019: I thought I should come back here & sort out the veto. Ireland had a veto on progress from stage 1 of the Article 50 negotiations to stage 2 which was not exercised. She does not have a veto over the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement which only requires a super qualified majority in Council. She will again have a veto over the agreement on the UK's long term relationship with the EU if and when that arises in a few years time.

It's more than Mayo that'll need God's help here.

4 November 2017 (original post)

The most important point for me is that it is the UK that decided to leave the EU. In my view it is an act of unprecedented folly but it is something they are doing to themselves and it is no use their blaming Johnny Foreigner or anyone else. It is an act of self-harm.

But it is not just self-harm, it is detrimental to the EU itself for a variety of reasons and it puts Ireland in an impossible position.

Boris Johnson - traitor and lunatic

It is very difficult to see a rational reason for the UK decision and it is becoming clearer by the day that they had no idea of the implications of leaving the EU.

A major part of their legal and social infrastructure and practice has developed over the last forty years inextricably bound up with the EU and the act of separation has much in common with separating siamese twins.

Why have I a picture of Boris Johnson here looking like a certifiable lunatic. Well, Boris encapsulates the decades long campaign in the UK denigrating the EU. He was not alone. Much of the British popular press contributed mightily to this and the net result was that much, if not a majority, of the British population came to see the EU as the cause of most of their woes.

It didn't help that Britain was in the throes of a nervous breakdown, refusing to come to terms with its reduced status in the world. The British seem to still see themselves as an Empire, of some sort or other, and a major actor on the world stage. At the same time we have senior US administration figures telling us that the "special relationship", in which the British put so much store to guarantee their pre-eminent position in world affairs, is nothing more than a joke.

The people have been sold a pup by an ambitious clique who are either delusional or just plain greedy for power at any cost, even if it just involves promotion to captain of a sinking ship.

Chancellor Hammond to confront &
not appease "the enemy" this time round

It appears that the time-critical negotiations with the EU are going nowhere fast. It seems to me that this is because UK demands/aims are contradictory. They don't compute.

They want to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union but they want a new cherry picked single market and customs union. They want to leave the 27 to pick up the tabs on what was agreed by the 28, including walking away from all contingent liabilities such as their share of pension contributions for EU employees.

They want to deny the European Court of Justice any say in policing whatever is agreed, if anything. And they want full control over their own borders.

On top of all this, they seem to think that once they have agreed on some demand or other among themselves then Johnny Foreigner is being completely unreasonable not to give it to them.

Chancellor Hammond is now calling the EU the enemy. Next he'll be conjuring up the ghost of Bomber Harris. This is insanity of a high order.

And I haven't even mentioned Euratom.

Mrs May read off the altar

It is very hard to see why at least two of the phase 1 negotiating issues cannot be sorted to everyone's satisfaction in jig time. These are the reciprocal rights of citizens and the contribution required of the UK to honour its obligations.

The Irish question is another matter. There are actually two questions here - the north/south and the east/west elements. The north/south element particularly concerns the border and trade but also citizenship arrangements. The east/west element includes Ireland's trade with Britain/UK but also Ireland's trade within the EU, much of which transits through the UK.

It seems to me that in this intractable situation, no exit is better than a bad exit, and it is in the interest of both the UK and the EU that she remain.

It is/was reported that David Davis was flying to Brussels to kick EU ass ... what? ... oh, sorry ... kick start EU negotiations. See how confusing it gets?

And here's a little doodle poem to confuse you even more.

No comments:

Post a Comment