Drop The Dead Donkey

So we are shortly to arrive at the target date set by the EU and we have an unchanged, unresolved position.

Stopwatch2018A2-320A position which remains one where Olly and Theresa are trying to get a deal based upon changes that the EU will never agree to. The Prime Minister and her civil service genius remain clinging to their fatally flawed plan like some broken lifeboat in a raging sea. There is the good ship Canada+ near by but they are refusing to let go.

Meanwhile back on dry land the EU remains committed to their rule that there must be controlled borders between member and non-member states. A requirement that makes the Irish issue almost insoluble. The UK wants an open Irish border. The Irish Republic wants an open Irish border. The EU requires the creation of a controlled border – by the Irish Republic.

However the Isle of Man – a Crown dependency – currently enjoys EU freedom of movement of goods but not of labour, services or capital. It is inside the VAT area and the EU customs union. While the Channel Islands also have EU freedom of movement of goods but not of labour, services or capital. They are outside the VAT area but still inside the customs union. So clearly the EU can change its rules when it wants to. True they are only small territories but then so is Northern Ireland. It represents less than 3% of the total UK population. Yet it seems to be be being given exaggerated importance by the EU side.

If the Eurocrats are going to stick with their demands then there are no clever solutions for Ireland – certainly no clever solutions that are legal. However having a controlled border that has very few – if any – enforcers on the ground may have be a real world solution for everyone to quietly accept …

Australia Back In Europe

In March 2016, a deal was announced between the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Australian broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) awarding the rights to create a version of the Eurovision Song Contest for countries in Asia.

Eurovis2Initially the contest was expected to start in 2017 but that slipped to October 2018 due to organisational and political issues.

This week we heard that the Eurovision Asia Song Contest was cancelled, and as of now, the EBU has no plans to hold such an event. But this news came solely from Wikipedia – and with no confirmation from the EBU it could be that a 2019 launch is still possible.

However it looks like Australia will get another entry in the next European contest – and, no doubt, get a better result than the British entry … again!

History Repeats

Recently the UK Transport Secretary and West Midlands mayor came together in central Birmingham to witness the official start of work on the new Curzon Street Station. It was billed as the start of the construction of the HS2 high speed rail line to London – and a major commercial property development alongside.

CurzonStBirm-240But the actual work at the Curzon Street site will only involve land preparation, archaeological works, some elements of the new station and a visitor centre. As far as Grandad can tell no actual track will be laid in this phase. Indeed it seems that no track has yet been laid anywhere along the route – with work on essential prerequisites like bridges and tunnels not due to start until 2019.

But even if everything goes to plan trains will not be gracing Curzon Street Station again for another eight years since opening is not expected until 2026. Then history will have come full circle since Curzon Street was once Birmingham’s central station. It opened in 1838 and was used by scheduled passenger trains until 1854 – just sixteen years. However it remained in use for freight right up to 1966. At which point everything but the original central building was cleared. It now stands as the world’s oldest surviving piece of monumental railway architecture.

Meantime close by in Birmingham, delegates at the Conservative Party have been arguing over calls for the entire HS2 project to be put on hold. And certainly later phases are already being held back for review. In practice these reviews could lead to the one or more later phases simply being allowed to wither on the vine – as happened with the Eurostar plans for north of London and the long-delayed electrification of the Midland Mainline to Sheffield. In the end it may all come down to the strength of the British economy from 2019 onwards – and, of course, Brexit!

Comedy or Tragedy

Despite all politicians trying to keep attractive public issues to the fore – like real incomes, resources for schools, health services, policing, etc. – the topic of leaving the EU just will not go away. And since this is – in theory – the last season of party conferences before we leave, the topic has become unavoidable.

550027SsSadly debate seems to have sunk to pro and anti factions calling each other names, a government tied to an unworkable plan and an opposition promising to block anything the government does. None of which is going to benefit the man on the Clapham omnibus.

But behind this lays a widespread impression that certain senior UK figures have tried – over many years – to lead the country down a path that has been deliberately concealed. And concealed because it would be unacceptable to the majority in a democratic vote. A view that has been subsequently supported as official documents were released at the end of their thirty year embargo. Even some European politicians openly confirmed the strategy.

That was why there was such opposition to having the 2016 referendum. It presented a rare opportunity for the ignored majority to change the national direction. Certainly plenty of those steering us towards a United States of Europe – lead by Germany and supported by France – were dismayed at the prospect. Even though almost all thought that Britain was too far committed to leave. Now they are working hard to either block the UK leaving or if that fails – speed-up the unification of the other 27 states and then ensure that they all boycott Britain.

550027GsSo the next six months will see Britain faced with three outcomes – give up and ask to stay in the EU, leave in name only or regain true independence but be black-balled by our former partners. Will the British public choose financial self-interest over political independence? Who can say? But anyone that claims to be interested should just take a little time to read one or two of the many publications on the subject … You might be surprised.

  • The EU: A Corporatist Racket: How the European Union Was Created by Global Corporatism by David Barnby, John Leftwich (Illustrator)
  • Brave New Europe Vol. 2 by Mick Greenhough
  • The Rotten Heart of Europe: Dirty War for Europe’s Money by Bernard Connolly
  • The Fourth Reich?: The EU – An Emerging German Empire by Sara Moore, editors – Ronan Daly, Charles Lambert
  • The Great Deception: The Secret History of the European Union by Christopher Booker, Richard North
  • The Great Deception: Can the European Union Survive? by Christopher Booker, Richard North
  • Brussels Laid Bare by Marta Andreasen MEP
  • The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives by David Craig, Matthew Elliott
  • Well, You Did Ask: Why the UK voted to leave the EU by Michael Ashcroft
  • All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman
  • Making a Success of Brexit and Reforming the EU: The Brexit edition of The Trouble with Europe by Roger Bootle

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Salzburg Shambles

Well that certainly went well for Olly and Theresa’s masterpiece – the Cheques Plan.

Napoleon_Macron3wChequers? – more like Snakes and Ladders!

The EU side was unimpressed with the British plan – which is hardly surprising considering that it was unchanged from the one released in July. Then, as Grandad reported, The Irish Times had led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.

Unsurprisingly it is still largely unworkable from the EU standpoint. What did our PM and her advisors expect them to say? Oh yes, we were wrong all along – please go ahead with your plan. True, they could have said something mildly encouraging and non-committal – at least in public. But there has already been more than two years of Britain trying to get the deals that the EU will never give. A permanent impasse blocking Whitehall’s impractical dreams.

So that’s another two months gone without any useful progress but plenty of inept political posturing. Going forward we really should not spend any more time on these futile exchanges. It’s time to drop the dead donkey and accept our role as an independent nation once again. Grandad just wishes that we had another Duke of Wellington figure to take the lead.

Good News From Europe

Froome, Thomas and Yates

For much of the British public professional cycle racing is a foreign sport. And this is largely true when you consider how many races are held in mainland Europe each year and how few in Britain. So it really is remarkable that all the races that make up the European Grand Tour trilogy have been won this year not just by a British athlete but by three different British athletes.

To put these results into some sort of  perspective the situation in 2011 was that no British cyclist had ever won a Grand Tour. And Grandad was starting to think that it would never happen. Then everything changed as Team Sky got the funding and talent together for a serious attack despite the challenges faced. Now six of the last seven Tours de France have been won by British riders backed by Team Sky. And this year saw Team Sky win the Tour of Italy for the first time and so set-up the chance to take this unique triple victory in 2018.

Final Countdown

As Britain faces its biggest political challenge for decades – exiting the European Union – there is still no clear consensus on how the nation should best proceed.

Stopwatch2018A-320Despite 800+ days of argument the opposing sides seem even more split now than they have ever been. In theory the EU want to see a final plan at their conference in just 38 days time – but that seems unlikely. Parliament has only being back in session for a week and MPs main pre-occupation seems to be their party conferences later this month.

However various political factions are hoping to raise enough numbers to force another referendum. This time on the final leaving plans. But even if they somehow get the numbers the big stumbling block will be the nature of the question to be voted upon.

Some want the choice to be between accepting the final plan or staying as we were – i.e. remaining EU members. Others want the choice to be between accepting the plan or leaving without a deal.

Since we have already voted to leave and given official notice to quit it would need both a UK about-face and the EU to agree to have us back. A situation where the UK would be unable to protest if the EU demanded that we loose the various concessions and rebates that we have enjoyed so far. And since some key EU members have been trying to remove Britain’s advantages for years that must be a likely scenario.

Having a referendum that does actually provide a no deal option seems to be the fairest option. But it would, of course, be opposed by those who want to stay in the EU at any price. It would, after all, give the plebs a second chance to stop the elite taking us all down their pathway to a German dominated super-state.

And if there was another referendum that resulted in a reversal of 2016 result then it would be quite likely that we would have an immediate demand to make it the best-of-three.

But all of this will be academic if, somehow, Olly and Theresa’s crumbly fudge of a deal is accepted by the EU – and also gains a majority in parliament. Then the UK could voluntarily become a satellite colony tied to EU rules but lacking any form of representation. A sad situation that would then act as an example to all the remaining EU members states of what would befall them if they dared to vote to leave.