Category Archives: Europe

Learn From History

As the horrors of the 1939-45 War fade from living memory they become just another part of history. And our present day issues with the European Union are almost always taken as short term; arguments unrelated to the bigger picture or long term perspective.

LeaveNow-1a-315

They are in a different mental compartment to Nazi plans for controlling Europe from 1942. Yet the Treaty of Rome – the start of the current EU – was produced just 8 years after troops from the Western Allies had to carry out risky airlifts to get vital supplies to the people of West Berlin for the eleven months of a Russian blockade. Indeed British troops were still stationed in Germany when the Treaty was produced.

As a result few, if any, in those shouting, banner-waving mobs have any concept of the plans behind the EU’s on-going fiscal and legislative programme. To many a highlight of EU legislation is the capping mobile phone roaming changes [seriously – this was circulated as a major reason to remain just last month!]. Few have bothered to read – much less digest – the plans dictated by top eurocrats and EU civil servants.

However you would hope that all pro-EU activists – especially those who have spent the past three years shouting down anyone who disagreed – would have read what it says on the tin. Yet it seems not. Just this week we saw a pro-EU placard-waving marcher asked for their three favourite things about the EU. They could only think of one – the NHS!

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [George Santayana]

Choices Made?

At our beloved European Union HQ the parliament has selected its leader for the next five years – from a candidate choice of just one! Despite this non-existent range of options Ursula von der Leyen still struggled to get enough votes to confirm her appointment as President.

UvdLeyen1

And again those Grandads who favour staying members of the Europa Projekt will surely know all about their new ruler – but for the rest of us here is a quick update. Frau von der Leyen is currently the German defence minister – useful for those EU Army plans – but not exactly a high flyer in German politics. Back in childhood her father, Ernst Albrecht, was one of the first European civil servants who later moved back to Germany and became Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. A post that may have helped Frau von der Leyen become a minister in the Lower Saxony state government in 2003 and then in the federal government in 2005. In recent years she has been considered as a contender for the post of Chancellor and ironically NATO Secretary-General. However her performance in government has not been much of a recommendation for high office being the lowest rated minster in national polls. Some see her being gifted the top EU job as a way of removing her from German federal politics.

Meanwhile in the UK we are still waiting to learn who has got the most votes for the job of Conservative leader – and with it the keys to 10 Downing Street. Unlike the EU election process the UK contest had an over-supply of candidates even if the voting was limited to party members. The expectation is the Boris Johnson will win with a massive majority – by a similar margin to the earlier votes by MPs.

But the fractured nature of UK politics mean that even if Johnson does have much more support than anyone else there will still be party members trying to block and disrupt his time in office. Moves that invalidate the idea that they are in a single political party. The issue of Brexit has split both the Conservative and Labour parties so that we now have a least four separate groupings who are only nominally on the same side. If the factions lead to an early general election then it could be the Brexit party and the LibDems that gain – merely because they have unequivocal positions on the biggest issue this country has faced in a life time.

Feedback

Time’s Up – After much horse trading and secret deals the top eurocrats have agreed – probably – on who will become the next EU presidents. The changes are – at the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker is to be replaced by Ursula von der Leyen; at the European Council Donald Tusk is to be replaced by Charles Yves Jean Ghislaine Michel; at the European Parliament Antonio Tajani is now replaced by David Sassoli; at the Eurogroup Mario Centeno has been in post since 2018 and at the European Central Bank Mario Draghi is to be replaced by Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde.

Surely all those Grandads who believe in continued EU membership will know all about the excellent qualities of these fine presidents – but for the rest of us it’s more like … Who? or How did they get that job? Interestingly there was no news about the future role of Michel Barnier even though he was lined-up for a top job only a few weeks ago.

BBC Sinks Even Further – Despite clearly expecting plenty of negative feedback on the plan to means test TV licences the BBC has continued to fire more and more bullets at its own feet (snowflake warning; metaphorical language – no BBC staff or members of the public were physically or mentally harmed). The announcements of the salaries of both on-screen talent and senior BBC staff triggered plenty of reaction. And not much of it was in support.

Then the sheer pointless waste of sending the main evening news presenter to Lyon to interview the BBC sport presenter also in Lyon seemed to go over the heads of the executives responsible. Apart from the benefit of providing Clive Myrie with free tickets to the football match and a stay in Lyon on expenses the whole segment was just one more source of ammunition (another metaphorical). Given the situation the BBC might also have reconsidered the need to relocate morning weather forecasts to Wimbledon during the tennis – but it is likely that Carol is a tennis fan so would have resisted missing her days at courtside; with pay.

And as this posting was being prepared came the news that the BBC is facing a legal challenge over its impartiality and biased coverage. It’s hard to see how this can succeed – given the resources that the BBC can throw against it. But having threatened millions of pensioners with a loss of benefit every unjustified expense and biased report is going to be jumped on – by lots of critics.

Yet Another Pro-Brexit Vote

As the results of the EU parliament elections get revealed the situation in the UK remains much as before – despite the massive protest vote.

With The Brexit Party already having 28 MEPs and 31.6% of the vote it is very clear there is solid demand to leave the EU now – and to have the same trading relationships as any other non-EU country would have.

Yet the Westminster villagers seem to want to replace the failed Mrs May with a policy-clone. Someone who will seek a special EU deal while refusing to take the benefits that the world trade option offers. A strategy that will fail – again. And force the UK not just to remain but also to become part of the Europa Projekt – the United States of Europe.

Already we have Conservative leadership candidates – and their backers – saying that No Deal is a crazy, extremist suicide strategy that they will not accept. Even though the Conservatives have sunk to an all-time low of fifth place – with less than 10% of the EU votes.

Yet at some stage this refusal to accept democratic results will have to be tackled. Worryingly one solution – a final solution – is to make sure popular votes no longer take place. This would remove the risk to the elite that their plans could be questioned, challenged or even blocked by the plebs.

However another scenario is that the Conservative leadership choice becomes irrelevant once they have been wiped off the political map by a general election …

Time’s Up

At the European Central Bank the current president, Mario Draghi, is already preparing for his departure on 31 October 2019 – and it looks like he will make it out before his policy of issuing of trillions of new euros – mainly as cheap loans to EU corporations – comes to a sticky end.

Man1904

While at the British equivalent, the Bank of England, governor Mark Carney, is staying on until January 2020; to make sure that Brexit goes to plan. However what is not clear is exactly whose plan that is – even though Philip Hammond has something in mind.

Over in Brussels president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will also see out the end of his term on 31 October 2019 – and Team Juncker [yes that really is the name they use!] have already tabled their final works. So if the Brexit can is kicked any further down the road a new president would be in charge – interesting…

However that other key Brexit figure Donald Franciszek Tusk, president of the European Council, will be around for another month after Juncker; not ending his term until 30 November 2019. And the can will have to be kicked further towards Christmas for both posts to have changed.

So that’s four important figures that we expect to leave soon – yet we are totally in the dark about our national politicians. The local government elections are just next week and even though they do not effect Westminster directly the results will send a message to the parties about public sentiment. More importantly the EU elections follow on just three weeks later and the indications are that the public will vent their feelings on our failure to leave on that much-promised March date. The Conservatives are getting very worried.

It’s hard to imagine but if these EU elections do go ahead in the UK then the UK government will look even more out of touch and gutless. This potential major embarrassment to the government means that all sorts of cunning plans and under the counter exchanges will be tried to avoid them taking place – or, if they do, to restrict the powers of UK MEPs in Brussels. However given the level of incompetence in Westminster it may be Brussels that acts on this instead.

But the big question avoided so far is – when is time up for Mrs May? Stories of her demise have been floated repeatedly without result. Despite all those defeats and numerous resignations our PM blunders on quite unable, it seems, to accept anything other than getting her deal agreed. A deal so toxic for our grandchildren that it must be stopped from ever reaching our statute books. What’s in it for her? We may never know.

And at this point a Labi Siffre song from the 1990’s seems appropriate –

The higher you build your barriers
The taller I become
The further you take my rights away
The faster I will run
You can deny me, you can decide
To turn your face away
No matter ’cause there’s

Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone, oh no
There’s something inside so strong
Oh, something inside so strong

For The Record

Statements by our Prime Minster, Theresa May, as officially recorded in Hansard –

would-i-lie-to-you1_300

We will be leaving the European Union on 29 March. I believe we shall be leaving on 29 March with a good deal. / I did indeed confirm that our intent and what the Government are working for is to leave the European Union on 29 March / I am happy to repeat what I have said previously – that we will be leaving the European Union on 29 March / We have that date in our legislation: it is 29 March 2019 / We have put it into legislation, and this Government are committed to delivering exiting on 29 March / No, we are leaving the European Union, and we are leaving on 29 March 2019 / We will not be revoking article 50 or asking for the extension of article 50, and we will be leaving the EU on 29 March next year / We will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. After that date, we will no longer be a member of the EU / We are leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019. We are negotiating a future relationship with the European Union that will, indeed, deliver on the vote of the British people / I am happy to give that reassurance. We are leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019. / My hon. Friend said, I think, “if” we leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Let me just confirm that we will be leaving on 29 March 2019 / We will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019 / we can and will leave the European Union on 29 March / I absolutely agree that we should be delivering on leaving the European Union, and we have been clear that that will be on 29 March / It is indeed correct that four fifths of this House voted to trigger article 50 – for a two-year process that ends on 29 March this year / but I have been clear that it is important that we deliver on the referendum vote and leave the European Union on 29 March / We will be leaving the EU on 29 March. I believe it is important that Parliament delivers on the vote that people took in 2016 / I am happy to confirm that we will be leaving the European Union on 29 March next year. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out the significant number of Members who stood on a manifesto commitment to deliver on the vote that people took in 2016 / I believe it is important for us to deliver on the vote that people took. We have it in our legislation that we will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 / we will be leaving on 29 March next year. / This Parliament put the exit date into legislation, and we will be leaving on 29 March next year / Very simply: I am clear that we will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 / I do get from people an urgent desire to get this sorted—not to get a second referendum and a people’s vote but actually to deliver on the first vote and, to do so, to leave the European Union on 29 March. / My right hon. Friend has regularly asked me that question, and my answer has not changed. First, I believe that it is our duty to deliver leaving the European Union and, as he knows, there is a date in legislation for us to leave—it is 29 March. / No, we are not going to extend article 50. We have a timetable; we are working to it; and we will leave on 29 March 2019 / I want my hon. Friend and his constituents to be very clear that we will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 / We will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019 / I am happy to confirm to my hon. Friend, as I did a little earlier, that we will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019 and that we will be negotiating a smooth and orderly process, so that people can carry on living their lives .. / We will be leaving the common fisheries policy – and, as I indicated, the CAP – on 29 March 2019. / I thank my hon. Friend, and I can confirm that we will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019 / We put that amendment down because we believe it is important to confirm, and so that people have the confidence of knowing, the date we will leave the European Union, which is 29 March 2019 / I am clear that we will not extend article 50 and that we will leave the EU on 29 March next year / I told my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) that we will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019, and we will. / we will leave the European Union on 29 March next year / I am happy to give my right hon. Friend and others that reassurance. We are very clear that we will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 at 11 pm / As I said to my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East, we are going to leave on 29 March 2019 / We will be leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019. We will now be moving quickly to negotiate the details of the relationship / First, the hon. Gentleman says “should” the UK leave the EU. The UK is leaving the European Union, and that will happen on 29 March next year / we leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 and will no longer send vast sums … / etc, etc, etc, etc

Then yesterday Hansard records – I regret not being able to deliver Brexit on 29 March.

Update 26-Mar-2019 – Mrs May’s regret at the non-delivery of Brexit on the legally agreed date seems somewhat deceitful now that we know it was agreed by her without any reference to her Cabinet or to Westminster MPs. Reports confirm that our Brussels ambassador, Sir Tim Barrow, was instructed by Mrs May to commit the UK to extending the Article 50 period to April 12 without any discussion by or mandate from Parliament. The stitch-up continues …

And You Thought That Eurovision Was Bad?

Our PM went to beg for more time from our Brussels masters – as expected. But they did not approve her requested June extension – and instead instructed her on their demands. She has just two extra weeks to force through her bad deal. The public meetings were sweetness and light – but in private Mrs May was clearly out of her depth and sticking to the approach that had failed so often before.

WestminsterTub1

To quote from today’s Guardian – May’s appeal to the heads of state and government was described by sources as “90 minutes of nothing”. She was unable to offer any answers as to how a no-deal Brexit would be avoided if the deal was rejected again. The withdrawal agreement has, so far, gone down by 230 votes and 149 votes: the first and fourth highest defeats faced by any government in the Commons.

After May left the room, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, commented to his fellow leaders that he had gone into the summit with the belief that there was a 10% chance of the withdrawal agreement being ratified. “After listening to her, I now think 5%,” Macron said. The European council president, Donald Tusk, responded: “That’s a bit optimistic.”

Just how low can our inept administration sink?