Monday, 18 June 2018

Spare us the "free market" dogma

It's all very well spouting mantras about low tax and small government. I am well versed in these arguments. The foundation of my political thinking is "that which governs best governs least". But that can only be a guiding principle - not a uniform stance.

The most effective governance is invisible - governance of things you use every day and take entirely for granted because they work. There are thousands of ways that regulation improves every day life. But it does cost money.

Most notably food safety controls. If you've ever walked into a Tesco express and grabbed a sandwich off the shelves in a hurry without really looking at it then that trusted transaction is a product of regulation. You are buying with confidence because of a regulatory regime.

That is the value that this kind of regulation adds. It's the same throughout the supply chain system. The key element in trade transactions is trust - and a well regulated, properly enforced system is what allows people to buy with confidence. That adds measurable value. High trust creates efficiency, and efficiency adds to productivity and so increases prosperity.

As much as it allows you to buy with confidence, it also saves you time - and it saves business having to deal with constant complaints. This system is what allows them to have no quibble returns policies. That's relatively recent in the UK and retail is better because of it.

Then there's the investments we made in the 90's. Our street furniture and road building costs are considerably higher than anywhere else in the world. That's because we build to a higher standard, factoring in everything from wheel chair access to navigation aids.

And then there's internet governance and all the regulated systems you and I are part of right now - from local intellectual property laws to global conventions on domain registrations etc. We are now regulating things that never existed 30 years ago.

It takes no talent to find waste in this system. Nobody is impressed at council CEO's obscene salaries and god only knows what we need cycling officers and diversity officers for. But that's really the low hanging fruit. Tories have been grumbling about this for 20 years.

That then is used to massage the narrative that government is too big and costs too much. You will get no argument from me that we need to eradicate waste and corruption - and the egregious white elephants but that isn't an argument for pruning the state to the bone.

Let's take immigration for example. We can't possibly monitor everyone coming in and going out and it wouldn't do any good anyway. An effective immigration policy has to be tied up with good governance. And that will cost money.

As Grenfell shows if we had regular inspections to prevent overcrowding and we would have a much better system of detecting visa overstays. This is also why councils need to investigate noise complaints - but don't. These are all quality of life concerns - things that used to be routine for environmental health officers. That function has gradually been degraded because the utility of such governance is undervalued and not understood.

The same goes for planning. We get idiot Toryboys telling us we need to deregulate planning - but when that happens we will see over-stressed sewage systems, unmanageable traffic and overcrowding on trains. We have hundreds of years worth of institutional knowledge on matters of good basic governance which is being eroded by the bean counter mentality. And things are worsening because of it. All on the somewhat crass notion that "the market will provide".

This became abundantly clear to me on a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur where roadworks are unplanned, not cordoned off, driving standards are poor, the certification system corrupt and they get standing water because of illegally blocked drains and gutters.

Malaysia's road fatalities are a magnitude higher than they are here - most of them preventable. Issues we have long forgotten about because we have a sophisticated system of regulation. Mandatory child car seats, seatbelts, MOTs etc.

It will take them at least another fifty or more years to get what we have because good governance is part of our culture - and part of our sense of order. It is built into the design of things rather than bolted on. And it shows. So I don't put any stock in this laissez faire Toryboy nonsense. Sophisticated modern governance is not cheap.

Moreover, you don't even pay for it. Most of you reading this will never be a net contributor. You know that dickhead cousin of yours who goes white-water rafting or climbing up the Cairngorms? Well, that Sea King rescue helicopter sortie costs £34,000 an hour, not including medical bills and paperwork. More than he will pay in a lifetime.

We can debate where and how markets could improve the efficiency of governance, but that is never going to make government small simply because of the range of activities which require governance and it is never going to be cheap. One way or another it is going to cost a lot.

So when I see some TPA bimbo on the telly whinging about regulation (completely oblivious to its utility in facilitating trade and improving our lives in lots of unnoticed ways) I know I'm listening to a simpleton reciting clueless tract from free market think tanks.

None of these people have ever had a real job. None of these people have a mind for systems or understand the value of what we have. They think we have what we have entirely by accident. Their phobia of regulation is based on teenage libertarian claptrap.

More to the point, it's not even conservatism. British conservatism is finding that balance between state and commerce. Maximising liberties but minimising externalities - ensuring my liberty does not trample on yours. It appreciates that some things do have intrinsic value.

As to the EU question there's a debate to be had about the trade off between sovereignty & trade facilitation. Both have merits and there is need for both. We need to know the form that relationship will take. Pretending none of it is necessary is ducking the debate entirely.

The reason I find ASI/TPA/IEA objectionable is because they rely entirely on libertarian dogma as an answer to complex problems, refusing to engage in the complexity - and that can only be the result of either stupidity or intellectual dishonesty. They trot out the same old meme driven Adam Smith inspired claptrap I've seen recycled in Tory think tank pamphlets for the last thirty years. It was crap then and it's crap now.

Some things are beyond good manners

The of the most irritating facets of Twitter debate is people imploring me to play the ball, not the man. Why should I? I am sick and tired of the public debate being dominated by fatuous, trivial, party political acolytes who know absolutely jack all about nine tenths of anything. It was intolerable before the referendum and it's dangerous now.

The "free market" think tanks are little more than a propaganda outfits pushing a handful of demonstrable lies and because of their monopoly on the debate, and the London-centric nature of media, reasonable and considered voices are drowned out entirely.

These are the people attempting to engineer yet more polarisation, redefining the terms to mean that anything that isn't the hardest possible Brexit isn't Brexit at all. They are shameless liars. They are in the process of a systematic manipulation of leave voters, hijacking Brexit entirely for their own ideological ends making this not a referendum on EU membership, rather a binary choice between EU membership and the Tory wet dream of Singapore on Thames.

Now as much as there is no mandate for any such shock doctrine ideas (and wouldn't win an election) it is also based on a number of classic Tory free market nostrums, none of which have even a passing relationship with the modern trade world as it is.

When they're not deliberately misinterpreting WTO law and skirting over the gaping holes in their argument, we have doe-eyed children from the TPA and BrexitCentral reciting "Global Britain" claptrap which doesn't begin to address the very serious issues thrown up by Brexit. This is compounded by the idiocy of Julia Dunning-Kruger and the never knowingly informed Brendan O'Neill. They are waging a populist campaign with zero idea how they are being manipulated and what is at stake.

And what it at stake here is Britain's future as an equitable, stable, wealthy, influential nation. Brexit can be managed well but then it could very easily slide into a national calamity that would define the UK's standing for the next 50 years. A successful Brexit is made all the more difficult by the cynical and breathtakingly dishonest agenda of the Tory think tanks and the obstinacy of liars like Rees-Mogg and the Brexit blob.

In this people tell me to play the ball not the man (or woman) but despite how many times their arguments are dismantled, they simply repackage the same propaganda and belch it out again. They are not responsive to argument.

That then raises very serious questions about their motives but also their personal integrity. For those who already have money and know how to play the markets a disaster Brexit is actually big money. If I had cash right now I'd be pumping it into German stocks.

But then then there are those who are simply true believers who are so weak willed they will not speak against their tribal scriptures and they are actually stupid enough to believe that a WTO Brexit is without savage consequences.

We therefore need an inquisitive media which challenges these bogus narratives and exposes these frauds and idiots for what they are. But do they? Nope. they give them a prime time slot on R4 and BBC QT because they have institutional prestige.

They, therefore, get a free ride of it, not least because TV presenters are about as thick and/or dishonest as they are. Consequently the debate is regressing, and all we get is the usual tropes from TV quasi-celebrities.

So you will excuse me, if you please, if I do not see any cause to be polite too or about these people. Empty-headed media whores employed precisely because they will slavishly repeat the mantras of the tribe.

I am tired of the brainless partisanship of this entire debate where Tories automatically line up to praise these dolts irrespective of the quality of argument, fawning over them simply because they support Brexit. his isn't good enough for a mature democracy. It cannot function this way. There are several variants of Brexit and differing motives, some of which are ideologically mutually exclusive. We need better, more informed debate than this.

It is especially urgent that we drop the sloganeering and concentrate on addressing the issues. By parroting superficial panglossian rhetoric voters might very well conclude that leavers are bullshitters. And indeed most of them are. They are not adequate defenders of Brexit.

From the beginning these people have been utterly negligent in failing to have a plan, having no realistic policy objectives with which to steer Brexit and in so doing have handed the game away. I am somewhat entitled to despise these idiotic mouthbreathers.

This is no longer a question of pessimistic economic guesses. The EU is sending Notices to Stakeholders telling us what is going to happen on exit day. This is not a negotiating ploy. It is a simple matter of consequences. These are the issues we must urgently address or history will not look kindly on us.

Like it or not, trade costs money.

I have no doubts that Britain can operate a successful independent trade policy after Brexit but not if we leave the single market. You see, trade costs money and it takes time. It is not beyond our wits to negotiate reciprocal tariff free arrangements but that does not mean the trucks start rolling. The EU has this exact same problem in that African and Asian producers struggle to meet the standards.

What we are looking for is not one off trades, but to establish lasting value chains where eliminating tariffs doesn't even begin to address the issues. For a start a lot of African ports are not capable of servicing more trade. There are several issues.

The lack of dredging of shipping channels means some ports are now no longer capable of accepting the bigger ships and can only take some classes at high tide. We'll need to spend money there. That dreaded foreign aid thing.

But let's say we sort that out, it's no good accepting Nigerian agricultural produce if they don't meet the standards - so we have to invest in training and equipment to meet our safety requirements. And what about logistics?

Lagos port frequently experiences missed tides because of congestion - where the tailbacks go right through the city lasting sometimes over 14 hours. even with advanced refrigerated containers that still means spoilage. And they are not cheap to run.

So we are then looking at port modernisation, improvements to road infrastructure, standards governance, elimination of corruption, traffic management and a whole host of things that could open up services opportunities in an aid for trade framework.

But here's the rub. It's going to take a very long time and it's going to cost a lot of money. How then are we going to finance this if we have dramatically pruned our European exports by leaving the EEA?

Ultimately the goal we share with Europe is to stem the flow of economic migrants and this can only be done by improving the economic prospects of Africa so our trade policy must be part of our foreign policy and central to that is foreign aid.

We now know that Trump's trade promises are not worth the paper they are written on and the EU has already entered a trade space race for Aus/NZ trade so we are at the back of the queue. That means we must preserve our EU trade at the very least.

The short of it is that no mixed bag of international FTAs is ever going to rival or substitute the high level of technical integration that facilitates the levels of EU commerce we currently have. "Global Britain" said without substance is just a moronic talking point.

Moreover, our goals for external trade are likely to be so expensive that we'll want to coordinate with both Efta and the EU. Irrespective of Brexit we will still want a high level of economic and political cooperation with the EU. Britain is no superpower and we need allies.

This is another area where we are ill-served by "free market" think tanks who assert that the elimination of tariffs alone is all that's needed to stimulate trade. Particularly the idiotic Taxpayers Alliance who have a knee-jerk reactionary attitude to foreign aid.

UK investment in curing crop blights not only prevents African agriculture from collapsing, it is also essential to trade and provides opportunities for UK research services. Similarly investing in immunisation can stop mass exodus by reducing outbreaks.

These projects may seem peripheral to trade but the UK is a services and knowledge exporter and that means we need an active foreign policy centred on international development. Creating overseas markets means more trade for them thus more business services for us.

Instead we get the juvenile mantras about "fwee twade" and spending foreign aid money on public services. The latter being the very antithesis of the "global Britain" we were promised. It's the very isolation these such think tanks claim they are against.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The curse of the Brexit blob


So who do I mean when I refer to the "Brexit Blob"? There's the usual suspects. Redwood, Rees-Mogg, Paterson and the other nonentity backbenchers, and then there's the Tufton Street sock puppet think tanks and then the ayatollahs of Brexit.

These will be people like Lawson, Ruth Lea, Hartley Brewer, Brendan O'Neill, John Longwoth, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Low Fact Chloe, John Mills and so on and so forth. The ones who aren't lying are stone stupid.

These are the people who colluded to ensure that novbody outside the Westminster bubble got a voice in the campaign. That is why The Leave Alliance has struggled to win any exposure. Partly thanks to Hannan's sabotage early on - aided by the Bruges Group.

These are all the people who steadfastly refused to have any kind of plan, promising everything under the sun during the campaign, telling any lie no matter how big, and collectively know sweet FA about the EU or the mechanics of Brexit.

At one point or other, they all floated Norway as a possible avenue or pointed to Norway as an example of prospering outside of the EU. But now the referendum is over, the groupthink is that we can pull out without a deal and everything will be fine.

They now tell us that the Norway option is not even leaving the EU. With the aid of CapX, The Telegraph, City AM and a number of other operations like BrexitCentral, they have fed a steady stream of ideological poison into the debate.

Being that your average journalist knows nothing about the process they have been able to do this with virtually no challenge - especially not from BBC TV presenters - all of whom (including Andrew Neil) haven't the first idea what's going.

There has not been any serious effort by the BBC to verify the claims of the Brexit blob - and because the media is a self-referential closed loop they wouldn't know where to even look for quality information.

What makes this worse is the polarisation in the debate where leave voters give their support to Brexit personalities just because they are on the same side. I have been sidelined because I criticise them. Brexit has become a cult like groupthink.

Not a single one of the London Brexit blob has won my respect in all this time. It's a spectrum of incompetence from the utterly braindead Kate Hoey through to the insane Andrew Lilico through to the breathtakingly dishonest Jacob Rees-Mogg. They are all garbage.

I already knew they were pretty dismal people but when acting in unison all I see is pure mendacity, arrogance and contemptible stupidity. If I didn't hate the EU so much as I do I would have switched sides. I am also reminded that the Remain blob are equally foul specimens.

Leading this carnival of incompetence is the clueless Theresa May, deep in her bunker, lacking the necessary information she needs to make a decision because there are people policing what information she gets. She's frozen like a rabbit in headlights.

Then we have the contemptibly cavalier and lazy David Davis who is not doing his job and Liam Fox and Johnson doing, well, bog all as far as I can see. They contribute nothing and I don't even get the impression they are trying to find solutions.

The consequence of this is not trivial. If Britain crashes out without a deal we are looking at emergency measure throughout and Britain is highly likely to face a depression having lost all of its formal trade relations. A giant clusterfuck of unprecedented proportions.

There is now a growing body of opinion that has joined me in pushing for the EEA option but we have no voice because the media frames the EEA as the remainers preferred option. RT have been kind enough to have me on but you won't see me on any BBC show.

Making this worse are the supposedly neutral think tanks who collectively know bog all and are not thinking in strategic terms. All they do is churn over whatever is fashionable from week to week, recycling each others material and telling each other how marvellous they are.

So were are now drifting toward a calamity with nobody at the wheel, while MPs are utterly obsessed with trivia - and selling the country short with their party political games. Labour is an absolute disgrace. Not fit to run a whelk stall.

The only MPs who has shown due diligence is Stephen Kinnock who has a clear understanding of the issues and is acting in good faith. Others pushing for the EEA are not acting in good faith. They just see it as a way to park Brexit.

But of all the options available, from an economic and geo-strategic perspective, the EEA option is a no brainer. Efta is about the right balance for our needs, and it represents a workable compromise that reasonable remainers can get behind.

But then half the problem is we have leavers and remainers re-fighting the referendum with entrenched positions, each lining up behind the moronic celebs they parade on Question Time. So we are not getting informed debate nor are we getting quality information.

Our politics is far too atomised for there to be any coherence, MPs are totally negligent in failing to get to grips with the issues and the media is hopeless. They are completely unserious which is why the Brexit blob can spread their poison.

Consequently, IF we are lucky enough to avoid crashing out, we will be locked in a perpetual transition limbo with uncertainty killing UK investment and jobs. It's worse than leaving or remaining. that's the one thing Farage is right about.

And then there's you people. You brainlessly retweet BrexitCentral and Leave Means Leave completely oblivious to their disaster capitalist agenda just because they fly your team's flag. They don't give a toss about you. Watch where they're putting their own money.

Meanwhile all this business with Arron Banks is just a sideshow. He's being made the media fall guy by the Tory Brexit blob when it's those mendacious bastards who stole the referendum campaign and have hijacked it ever since. Not that I have ANY sympathy for Banks.

So unless you people get your act together and support the EEA Efta option then you're looking at vassal state Brexit or an absolute unmitigated disaster that will see Britain slide into political and economic oblivion for decades. It's up to you.

Friday, 15 June 2018

I love Brexit but I HATE Brexiters


It's no secret that I hold the Brexit blob in utter contempt. They are charlatans and liars. The ones who aren't thick as shit, that is. Rees-Mogg is a lying hypocrite, and hard Brexit stands on a foundation of intellectual sand. These are the people who never needed to study the impacts or the mechanics of Brexit because they are financially and politically insulated from its effects. Consequently their knowledge of the EU is minimal.

I have been a reader of EU affairs for a decade or more now and there is still much to learn and even I didn't realise the extent of EU integration. Where technical governance is concerned, practically every industry is governed by the EU to one extent or other.

To leave the EU will require microsurgery over many years because if we don't do it carefully then we kill a number of industries stone dead - pharmaceuticals and aerospace especially. Leaving without a deal will kill the better part of a million jobs in the first year.

This is not project fear. This is observable truth. If our certifications and authorisations are not valid then there's no point in people turning up for work because their work is not recognised as legal or insurable. This is not a case of economists making voodoo projections. This is simply a matter of logic. Either you have permission to operate or you don't. There are no WTO rules that compel the EU to accept unlicensed goods and services.

Many of you have denied that there will be chaos at the ports - saying this government will find a workaround. Even if you're right still that means airlines repaired in the UK are not cleared to fly in EU airspace. Heathrow comes to a standstill.

Moreover there WILL be a hard border in Ireland. It's a matter of international law. UK trade also then collapses because all our trade is done through third country deals held by the EU. We will have no formal trade relations with other countries. There are ways in which the damage can be mitigated so goods keep rolling - but that says nothing of our services exports which is 80% of our trade. That's at least another million jobs right there.

No Rees-Mogg "fwee twade" theory is going to bail us out. These deals take years and they can never equate to the £240bn of trade we do with the EU. An FTA with the EU can't come close either. Any halfway respectable trade analyst will tell you that. To negotiate anything like a stable replacement relationship will take several years - which either means facing the cliff edge or years in a limbo transition - zombie Brexit that will probably end up being the status quo. A miserable no mans land.

So if you do want to leave and you want to do it without a decade long depression, there is absolutely no alternative but to join Efta and retain the EEA. It is that simple. For all its flaws it at least gets us out and we know how the system works.

The ultra Brexiters will tell you all manner of lies about the EEA - you know the lies as well as I do by now. The "no say in the rules" bullshit and the "EEA is not leaving the EU routine, despite it being only 25% of the EU aquis. And though EEA is not ideal, it is the only realistic solution. It's the only way to sort out the border issues and maintain trade. It is impossible to overstate the damage a hard Brexit of any kind will do. It will mean massive defence and health cuts.

It's easy to give into nihilistic tendencies and say let it all burn - and believe me I have some sympathy with that view, but hard Brexit will come at enormous economic and human cost that we won't recover from in our lifetimes.

An EU free future is possible but we must not underestimate the amount of control it has accumulated over the years and how much trade depends on the hidden integration that is known about by few and understood by fewer. It is a massive legal engineering undertaking.

Nobody serious thinks an FTA with the EU is sufficient. We are talking about the most sophisticated regulatory system ever created running everything from fisheries to power stations. It cannot simply be copied and pasted.

The Tory fixation with tariffs doesn't begin to address the issues and collectively we haven't understood the scale of the problems even a soft Brexit creates. EEA helps but it is no magic bullet. We still need parallel agreements or industry specific transitional frameworks.

We will also need to negotiate a mechanism to phase out the customs union and to ensure we safeguard the automotive sector. Our EEA relationship will need a number of additional protocols to make it work. There are legacy issues we will face having been an EU member.

There is a mammoth task ahead with mammoth risks - and as much as the effects will damage British industry, the uncertainty is a killer. We cannot afford any more prevarication from government nor can we allow any more Tory Brexiter deceptions. In spirit I might agree with the tub-thumping Brexit speeches on Question Time and Brexit rhetoric may be pleasing to hear - but we can't keep re-fighting the referendum. Decisions now have to be made about which way this goes.

This is why I have no time for the Brendan O'Neills and Hartley-Brewers of this world. They are superficial know nothings who don;t do detail. The think tank cretins are no better. They know nothing about the functioning of trade and the single market.

What we are dealing with is shallow unserious self-promotors who have no idea what they are saying and cannot begin to comprehend the dangers of a bodged Brexit. The UK would have to enact emergency measures just to keep food on the shelves.

That is to say nothing of citizens rights both here and in the EU. They would have no formal legal standing. No corner of the economy will be untouched. This is not an inconsequential game and we can't just pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off. This is deadly serious.

For years we leavers have been complaining that the EU has taken over the machinery of governance without us realising. That much was 100% true - yet now leavers have let their brains drool out of their arses and now we're pretending leaving has no profound effects. Shameful.

I keep making this case but then ignorant Brexit grunters just grunt "bollocks". So they are in fact saying that the EU *hasn't* taken control of aerospace, fishing, agriculture, energy and all points between. If that's what you think then why the fuck did you vote to leave?

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Keep banging the drum


There are good arguments for leaving the single market. There are aspects of it I hate but on balance of argument, and the absence of a credible alternative, I think we need to keep the EEA agreement. It isn't "betraying Brexit".

The EEA is a regional trade agreement, it is not part of the EU treaties and as a member of it we would still have formally left the EU and would no longer be under its control. It will still influence us but there is no scenario where our super power neighbour will not.

It makes sense to be part of it as a regional trade agreement because, well, we are in that region. Yes the EU does have asymmetric power over it but the UK and Efta is a countering force made stronger by the UK joining it. It's better than standing alone against the EU.

Ultimately it provides a stable framework for ongoing relations - and yes sometimes we'll lose the arguments - but it's better to have an amicable system rather than an antagonistic relationship where we are bullied into conformity - as Switzerland has found.

EEA is imperfect but it creates a firewall between us and political union - and it;s better than the Swiss deal where they have to adopt the rules verbatim and ECJ decision are directly applicable (unlike Efta).

There's no scenario where we are not adopting rules if we want enhanced trade. Nobody makes all their own rules. The very basis of modern trade is technical integration and regulatory harmonisation. It creates rapid and secure supply chains and improves product safety.

Regulatory sovereignty comes at considerable cost - not least loss of export potential, and if we diverge with the intent of created an unfair competitive advantage then the EU can and will retaliate. Trade wars are bad - and bureaucratic feuds are even worse. They linger for years.

We have 30 years of economic activity which evolved inside the single market regulatory regime. Re-equipping and retraining for a new regime is more red tape, not less - and there are few advantages to doing so.

EEA Efta would give us the freedom to change most of what we don't want because it's nothing to do with trade. We need a whole new approach to energy, agriculture and habitats and we can do that in Efta. We will still be constrained by global conventions though.

Many EU directives are in response to global conventions - things like the UNECE Air Convention. We would still have to design our own regulatory response and it would end up similar to that of the EU. The sovereignty as imagined by many Brexiters does not exist.

Brexit does repatriate the decision making, and it does shorten the chain of accountability. That's why I voted for it, but we can't get carried away with Tory slash and burn ideas because that's not how the modern world works. Everything we do has international dimensions.

I am satisfied that the EEA agreement contains enough safeguards to make it workable. It just requires a government with a bit of gumption and a spine. We could leave the EEA but there would be no economic utility. Just less trade with Europe and weaker deals with others.

EEA Efta would get us out faster with and would be a stable framework to avoid most of the cliff edges. Brexit without the drama. It's tempting to tell them to stick it but let's get real here. People have mortgages to pay and kids to feed.

This is a revolution in governance - and we should by now have learned enough and evolved enough to be able to have political revolutions without trashing our entire economy. EEA is a chance to do that. If then we still don't like it we can always leave it.

I believe we can use the institutions of the EEA and Efta to advance our interests in ways others cannot and we can apply pressure, together with wider global alliances to force the EU to liberalise and reform from the outside. It has been done before.

This is not just a matter of trade. It is also a matter of geopolitical importance with ramifications lasting for decades. We cannot afford to get it wrong and we cannot afford to gamble everything on the back of some weak Tory assumptions about "fwee twade".

If we get this wrong then we stand to be permanently diminished in our global standing and will probably end up grovelling back to the EU but without the opt outs. EEA Efta is a safeguard against that and something all reasonable people can live with.

We are being sold down the river by mendacious extremists on both sides - and our political machinery is incapable of stopping them. Just look at the gutless party politics we saw last night. If they won't assert themselves then we must. Keep banging the Efta drum!

The Brexit debate has become insular and self-serving

By now, business should have a good idea of what lies ahead if we leave the single market. They should but they don't. Their own research is poor, industry associations are useless and there is complacency throughout. They trust that the government will sort something out.

This is partly because the media is not doing its job. It is consumed by the trivia of Westminster - especially meaningless amendments that make no difference either way. We're also not getting any reliable information from our government.

The EUs Notices to Stakeholders are the only reliable official information which the media doesn't bother to report on and where it does it simply does not understand the significance of them. They are not speculation. They are the official legal position of the EU.

Without that flow of information, businesses and individuals are left to guess, massively underestimating the effect of becoming a third country. They're in Brexit limbo, unable to execute plans and suspending investment decisions.

This is made worse by various wonks and policy hacks concocting pie in the sky "solutions" entirely without regard to anything that has been said by the EU. When it says no cherrypicking, they mean it. When they say there is nothing between CETA and EEA they mean it.

Supposedly serious people are ignoring what is said, assuming the EU will eventually fold and make unprecedented concessions, opening up huge holes in its own legal order for the sole benefit if the UK - because somehow the UK is special. The EU will not do this.

This is why industry associations and think tanks need to be ruthless and immediate in shooting down misconceptions and delusions. Except many of them are ambitious social climbers who don't want to fall out with anyone. (Institute of Directors)

From the beginning they should have been tearing into the nonsense spouted by the ultra brexiters and all of those like Open Europe masquerading as a middle way. Instead the two faced code of politeness and decorum prevents them from doing so.

This is why you can see Renison and Singham very often on the same stage. @UKandEU will give stage time to bluffers and fantasists like Owen Paterson and Rees-Mogg - respectfully disagreeing. But that is not good enough when dealing with barefaced liars.

Rees-Mogg and Paterson are running a very obvious campaign of deception and people who know better should say so and be screaming from the hill tops about it. This is too important for good manners. Too much depends on getting it right.

So we have a self-absorbed class of self-appointed experts churning over ideas that cannot work and will not work - usually hosted or entertained by the IfG - wasting time while ducking the central issues. The Brexit blob is bad but the Brexitologist "no skin in the game" circle jerk is just as bad. Timewasters who contribute nothing, fawning over each other, telling each other how clever they are. They are the dog in the manger.

The central issue is that upon leaving the EEA we become a third country, we no longer have free circulation of goods and services and without regulatory union a wet border with Ireland is a certainty - at the very least. Yet we still see them falling for decoys, wasting column inches trotting out their little nostrums, nitpicking at ideas that have already been refused and lavishing attention on total garbage. Whatever gets them a slot on Sunday morning television.

We have heard every variation of every known pet theory - from the Ukraine option to the Jersey option - all of which totally ignores the EU when it says NO CHERRY PICKING.

I have found when analysing anything from the EU then it's best not to look for a hidden motive. i take them at their word on things like this and we have heard enough from Ivan rogers to know it is all true. the EU has a position it will not deviate from.

We are, therefore, back where we started. There are 3 options - no deal, a weak FTA with a few add-ons, or the EEA. Two of those mean friction at the borders and no free movement of goods. The EEA is the only solution that maintains current trade and stops companies moving.

There is no bespoke version of the single market without being in the EEA - and the best the EU is likely to offer outside of that framework is a leash similar to that of Switzerland where we adopt all the rules verbatim under ECJ governance. All of this has been ignored thanks to continued witless prattle about customs unions - which doesn't even begin to address the issues. The CBI can't tell its arse from its elbow and MPs can't either.

So without clarity on the basics, without acknowledging what the EU has said, we are being led up the garden path - with an undue sense that things will be ok and German car makers will save us from the beastly EU.

Then there is the RoW trade dimension where absolutely nobody has come up with a realistic post Brexit strategy and nothing that would pass muster. All we get is BrexitCentral idiocy and witless fluff from Low Fact Chloe.

So here we are about to shed tens of billions in EU trade with no replacement or substitute in mind, with a political class nowhere near comprehending the intricacies of the trade system - largely in thanks to the mythology that has been spread about the EEA.

Here we find that the media is not interested in examining nuances - rather they add to the confusion and further pollute the debate with irrelevances and misapprehensions. Very often agenda driven. This is a total failure of media and it will cost the country dear.

Anyone can nitpick at the EEA option - I know the flaws better than anyone - but what I don't see is anyone coming forward with solutions that take into account the EU's position. The debate is entirely solipsistic. It's insular and self-serving.

Our media bubble cannot focus on the task at hand. It doesn't know how to prioritise news, trades only in gossip with a flawed understanding and is unwilling to listen to anyone or acknowledge error. You can be sure that the Brexit we get will be the Brexit we deserve.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

I'm not giving up and nor should you.

A Lords amendment that would effectively mean staying in the European Economic Area has been defeated. So is there now any point in making a case for the EEA? Yes. Yes there is. For one simple reason. There is no other option. Third country means third country. There is no other available means to preserve single market trade. There is no bespoke deal to be had that could safeguard EU trade in the same way.

That our miscreant MPs have rejected the option as part of an amendment is neither here nor there. It remains the one viable path and we need to keep saying so. No amount of ducking the issue can make the realities of being a third country go away.

But isn't it futile? Maybe. But it needs to be argued if only for historical record that there is/was a solution and our moronic MPs caved into the media groupthink. More to the point, it ain't over til it's over. The future relationship is not decided yet.

The future relationship is not set in stone and will not be defined in the withdrawal agreement. That comes later and there are other windows in which to push the option - which will look more and more attractive as the other options become clear. We are not at crunch point yet.

What we have seen tonight is procedural politicking which has no bearing on reality. Votes are more along party political lines for strategic reasons and bear little semblance to what is actually happening - nor is it relevant to the bill itself. There are other windows.

Too many MPs still think there is a means by which we can have the same level of market access and more freedom to diverge. It's the "we can get a better deal than Norway" mentality that has plagued us from the beginning.

But to be blunt there is very little that the EU can do to go beyond a comprehensive FTA. They have said so time and again. I take them at their word because I understand the system. MPs do not. If you want single market rights then you need to be in it. So for the time being, anyone who does not want to see a trainwreck needs to learn the definition of third country and make clear what the consequences are. I think the fight is still winnable and we still have a year to make the case.

There is no point giving up making the case for the EEA because an enhanced FTA still means we are subject to the standard third country controls and are excluded from several lucrative markets. We need to hit home with that reality. Some suggest an association agreement could be a solution but that means accepting EU rules verbatim having no say, unlike Norway. That would be true vassal state status. That singular fact might turn the tide when the penny drops.

The ugly facts of leaving the EEA means one of two things. Either we end up as a vassal state like Switzerland adopting the rules verbatim - with even less say than Norway or worse - a third country with no participation rights at all - in which case our MPs have just pissed away every aerospace services job in Bristol and screwed over the UK automotive sector. Even if we negotiate a tariff free deal, being outside of the EU approvals system means being subject to full third country controls.

Politically the EEA may look dead in the water, and admittedly it does not look good but it ain't over til it's over. Politics is a continuum and the game is never finished. I will continue to fight for it.  

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The argument in brief

The short of the EEA argument is the fact that we have been an EU member for 40 years and nothing less than a fully comprehensive framework for future economic collaboration with our neighbours is a sufficient replacement. It is that simple.

Had we never been part of the single market an FTA would have been sufficient and more suitable for our needs - but we have the better part of thirty years worth of economic activity working inside EU regulatory frameworks. We need to ensure its survival.

Without having all the mechanisms of recognition and proof of conformity then frictionless trade does not happen and we lose all our preferential participation in the European market. That means a hit for everything from cosmetics through to airline spares.

The only reason you would knowingly jettison all of that economic activity is if there were a demonstrable alternative - but there isn't. Trump's trade promises are not worth the paper they are written on and a handful of FTAs with the rest of the world can't replace our EU trade.

All we will end up doing is seeking deals with those partners who already have, or are working toward, a comprehensive agreement with the EU which will lock them into harmonisation with EU rules and global standards, That means there is no economic utility in divergence.

Moreover, there is no mechanism the EU will agree to that can replicate the regulatory authorisations of the single market. Framework mutual recognition deals don't come close and wouldn't allow for unilateral divergence.

We can leave the EEA in favour of an FTA, which will grant us more regulatory autonomy but if that means reduced market access with the EU and its partners, what actual use is that? There are few demonstrable gains from regulatory arbitrage. None that I know of in trade in goods.

Furthermore, if the UK is engaged in a regulatory race to the bottom the EU will not be passive. It has several techniques to remove the advantage, not least a higher frequency of goods inspections to preserve its regulatory integrity. It can and will compete.

The only people who think there is a "free trade" future based on deregulation are the IEA, Open Europe and the ASI - and if you know your onions then you know these people are Toryboy idiots - most of whom have never had a real job.

Yes, the EEA has more obligations than I would like and encroaches on areas I am not at all happy about, but I like the alternatives a lot less because ultimately we are talking about killing jobs here and that's no good. The regions depend on Airbus, Nissan, Rolls Royce etc.

If we leave the EEA, they may not leave the UK but I can see many areas where regulatory conformity and single market authorisation is essential so they definitely will scale down UK operations and future investment will be directed to the continent. That risks the UK becoming a European trade backwater. Japan won't invest in manufacturing in the UK if there is only limited access to the single market, They have said so. I take them at their word.

As to the potential of trading with the rest of the world, I won't say that there aren't opportunities, but we are better off safeguarding the trade we have and collaborating with the EU rather than going into direct competition. If we do that then we'll lose.

What we are seeing is Africa and the Pacific getting their act together and forming their own trade regions similar to that of the EEA which means we could find ourselves in the future as the junior partner in every major trade negotiation.

And if you didn't like being told what to do by the EU, wait until it's China calling the shots. You will like that a lot less. Tory free trade dogma does not survive first contact with reality and will lead to a gutting of UK jobs followed by price gouging.

I don't like the EU, and pray for the day when it doesn't exist - but the fact is it does exist and we shall have to contend with it for as long as it does. In respect of that we need an amicable, comprehensive relationship. For those purposes, EEA Efta is the only game in town.

Friday, 8 June 2018

On the telly again (part 5)



As you can see the hard Brexit turnips have their panties in a bunch this week. It would appear they are seeking to leverage the EU's backstop position into a whole UK solution. How many times do they need to be told that this is not going to happen?

The NI situation is somewhat unique and any settlement will be an exemption from all the norms of trade and if the EU isn't careful it could find itself open to legal challenges. I wouldn't be surprised if they need to negotiate WTO waivers to complete implementation.

What the EU is not going to do though is allow us to pick and choose from the single market. They couldn't have been any clearer than that. they won't compromise their system integrity even for those much vaunted German car makers.

The EU is keen not to set any new precedents as it would force it to liberalise more than it wants to. We therefore have the choice between an FTA or EEA. An FTA means becoming a third country - which is only marginally better than the disastrous WTO option.

It is conceivable that they could go the extra mile as they have with Switzerland but only on the proviso that we, like Switzerland, adopt the rules verbatim with direct ECJ applicability. That really is "vassal state". Worse than the EEA by a long shot.

And the ultra Brexiters really haven't thought this through. If we are dismantling the entire EU system then we will have to replace it with something. No prizes for guessing that no credible plans are in place for that eventuality.

So that means, when the penny drops, we will post-exit, during the trade negotiations, be begging the EU for another transition -and it could be several years before some systems can be transposed. Regulatory change is a meticulous, expensive process and rather time consuming.

There are two ways that goes. The EU could say yes in which case they have us by the short and curlies, and we are stuck in a perpetual Brexit limbo. Just long enough for a new government to hit the pause button and try to leverage transition into a permanent solution.

But then it could also say no and leave us facing the full cliff edge in which case all of our exports are subject to third country controls. That's a real smack ion the balls for any industries who depend on frictionless trade and EU authorisations.

The consequence of that will be a major political crisis where the UK goes cap in hand to Brussels, yet again begging for concessions which either won't be possible or come at a price. That price will be adoption of rules under ECJ and probably a large financial contribution.

Strategically, Hard Brexit by any known definition is moronic and the sickening irony is it would be an own goal by Brexiters making us the vassal state we sought to avoid becoming. All of which could be avoided by retaining the EEA.

But you can't communicate this to the BrexitCentral idiots or the TPA moron (species Mongus Moroni) - because they're still infatuated with Tory chants of "free trade" - which all grown ups think is absolute nonsense.

The hard Brexit muppets keep telling us there is a way around the regulatory issues - but there isn't. Each time they are asked to produce a credible proposal they float a variation of Legatum's mutual recognition nonsense - despite all senior figures in the EU saying no.

The basic gist is they want a loose form of regulatory alignment where the UK on a whim, without coordinating with the EU can veto new rules or modify them while maintaining the same level of market participation. Cake and eat it stuff.

This obviously doesn't work if you think about it. By agreeing to this the EU would be allowing the UK the sole authority to set the lowest bar of market entry. Why would they do this? But that's the problem. The ultra Brexit morons don't think at all.

Though I have been described as an EEA evangelist, that's not actually correct. I know its flaws better than anyone - but I also know that it beats the alternatives hands down because it is dynamic and configurable.

More to the point it would get us out of the EU without endless transitions and would allow us to recover faster in such a way that people would get used to the new deal and remain bots would struggle to make a good case for rejoining. Efta is an entirely sensible approach.

If there were a case for abandoning enhanced participation in the single market then I would be pushing it because some regulatory systems are a bridge too far even for me. The problem though is that Leave has not come up with a credible alternative.

Nobody serious thinks there is any economic utility in deregulation and business does not want the hassle of retooling for a new regime that affords them less market penetration. There is no combination of FTAs I can see that would rival EEA membership.

The guff about trading with the rest of the world looks thinner by the day and Trumps promises weren't worth the paper they were written on. So are we really going to put our faith in the likes of Rees-Mogg and Johnson? Do these people look credible even for a nanosecond?

The buccaneering free trade future they promise simply isn't going to happen. Their theories are obsolete dogma built on a foundation of intellectual sand and haven't been relevant for decades. EEA may be imperfect but it's the best way out of this mess.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

The power of Twitter

Some people have nagged me over my lack of blogging on The Leave Alliance website. Just to make a point, notice how a TLA post gets seven retweets...


Now look how many retweets I get if I turn the exact same material into a thread of 21 tweets.


These tweets earned 295,814 impressions over the last 24 hours and 200 retweets in 12 hours. That is why I concentrate on Twitter. I prefer blogging, but I invest my effort where it does the most good.

Update: The thread has risen to 461,305 impressions with 665 retweets.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Brexit is a moral responsibility


The UK still does not have anything approaching a workable Brexit plan. The government doesn't really know what it wants and no preparations have been made for any outcome. Even if May accepts the NI backstop it will need infrastructure at Holyhead.

That we are this late in the game and still have nothing even close to a legal draft of an NI settlement gives you some idea as to how dysfunctional UK governance has become. They couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery.

Notionally when you have a clan of incompetents making a mess of things we chuck them out and put new politicians in. Except that the opposition couldn't run a bath. There is no possibility of them getting to grips with Brexit. It is beyond their capability.

What this tells you is that our politics is not equipped to handle any sort of meaningful change. The system largely runs on autopilot with civil servants limiting the damage politicians can do. It's amazing it functions as well as it does.

The system as we know it can just about keep the lights on but that is the most it can do. Institutionally it has not been tasked with anything transformative in decades. Consequently Westminster has become a very expensive zoo.

On all the serious things from agriculture to internet governance, the EU instructs them and they tinker around the edges. This is why they have time to indulge themselves in in virtue signalling nonsense.

And though you may look on in dismay at how Brexit is being handled Brexit is not the element that created this dysfunction, it has merely exposed it. This is what it's like all the time. This is why politics is gradually failing.

This is why we need Brexit to happen. There are those who want to stop Brexit because of the chaos it will cause but what they actually mean is they don't want the inconvenience and expense of having to address our political dysfunction.

They say "We need to stop Brexit so we can focus on things like the NHS" but the NHS is a mess for the same reason Brexit is a mess. Our politics is in a state of deadlock underpinned by the economic status quo. All it can do is gradually degrade.

I see the Brexit vote as a torpedo hitting HMS Westminster amidships and now we are watching it capsize. Reversing the Brexit vote would simply be to patch the hole without pumping out the water. You might buy a few more years of fragile stability but that's all.

But on a more serious level we can't afford politicians using public finances as electoral bribes or for their madcap white elephants. We can't afford any more climate virtue signalling and we can't tolerate more tax rises through our utility bills. We can't afford them.

This is a social issue too. We cannot have the Sadiq Khans and Chuka Ummunas bleating about anything other than what matters. They want to ban burger adverts on the tube while London kids are sticking each other with Rambo knives.

We have a Labour front bench more interested in transgender toilets than rape gangs. We have a Tory party more interested in taxing food than solving the housing crisis. This is pre-2008 crash politics - when there was cheap money and they had not a care in the world.

Put simply our politics is not capable of tackling grown up issues. They will fiddle while Kensington burns. And while we are on that subject, Grenfell is totemic for a number of reasons...

We saw overcrowding from illegals, compensation fraud, and systemic failings that should not happen in a first world developed economy. It tells us everything we need to know about the state of British people and the state of our governance.

And this is why I have grown to despise the ultra remainers. They would have it that the status quo was fine and we were a progressive wealthy country and really the only problem is "austerity". But Grenfell shows us the problems run far deeper.

Grenfell shone a torch on the perverse something-for-nothing culture of welfarism, the parasitism of subcontracting, and the absolute dysfunction of our immigration and housing system.

And if we had voted to remain in the EU Westminster would seek to sweep it all under the rug and carry on with business as usual. This we cannot afford. There is no business as usual. We have reached, to coin a phrase, a boiling point.

Our crass parade of virtue signalling morons will not suffice for politics anymore. The centre cannot hold. We cannot have a preening class of hypocritical low grade intellectual pygmies finger wagging at us. We're not the problem. THEY are.

Remainers continue to deploy economic arguments about how Brexit will hit GDP. But whose GDP is it anyway? Not mine or yours. They don't care about us just so long as a single (largely useless) metric keeps growing.

Minor increments in GDP do not translate into wealth, health and prosperity - and even if it did, it is no substitute for good governance and perpetual growth cannot address the sickness in the soul of the country.

There's an old saying "for things to stay the same, everything must change". I feel we are at that point where if we want to preserve civil society as we know it then we must reclaim politics and have this all out. If we shrink from that responsibility then we are finished.

Friday, 1 June 2018

The Brexit I forget.


This blog primarily looks at the process of leaving the EU. Trade, borders, regulation - the boring stuff. I think, though, that I have covered Brexit from every angle, from the core concepts through to the more metaphysical. Were any future historian to look at this blog, I like to think they would gain some insight from it.

What they are certain to detect is a certain oscillation. Throughout there has been a battle between head and heart. My head says stay in the single market. My heart says let the whole thing burn. I've said plenty about the single market to the point where I can really say no more. But then there's that other Brexit that a big part of me is quietly wishing for. The Brexit I forget when I get caught up in the technical debate.

A wonderfully sardonic tweet today summarised my feelings. "The real issues with London are the lack of gender neutral toilets, the 'offensive' ad posters of scantily clad women, and the fact that cyclists are too 'white' 'male' and 'middle aged' - thank god we have Sadiq Khan to help us battle through and prioritise these problems".

It's not an original point to make to say that our political class indulge in virtue signalling nor is it especially original to say they are holding a progressive facade while neglecting the basics. We have an epidemic of grooming gangs and now it seems not a day goes by without a knife murder or acid attack. That's what the public are talking about while our politicians would rather indulge in politically correct navel gazing. 

Though much of the scorn is directed at Sadiq Khan, an especially loathsome creature, I see him as a proxy for our entire political class and a figurehead of the "progressive" establishment. This is an establishment that doesn't want to have a blunt dialogue with the public. This is an establishment which wants to keep a lid on problems that the public are not minded to be patient about. Too much is wrong to keep pretending everything is ok. 

This brings me to a loose quote from radio presenter James O'Brien. It''s the one thing he is right about. You cannot expect people to stand up for a capitalist society if the people themselves cannot acquire capital. Increasingly we have frozen people out, trapped them in high rents with insecure futures - with a political class on another planet and a media not far behind. Too much has been brushed under the carpet for too long and the cracks are showing. A big part of me wants to see a crash Brexit because we need to sort this out once and for all. 

What one notices in politics, though, is that every issue of importance is a proxy for the culture war. And it is a war. Even Brexit itself is incidental to that - where many Brexiters don't care about the outcome just so long as the progressive remainers lose. I have some sympathy with that given the behaviour of Grayling and Bearder - along with Adonis, Major, Clegg and Blair et al.

What I'm talking about here is nothing at all new. I could well have written the above in the exact same terms a decade ago. Elections sure as hell made no difference in all this time so we can hardly be surprised by an anti-establishment vote in 2016. Now we see how the establishment has declared open war on the result. 

For quite a long time now I have argued that Brexit is not an economic proposition and Brexit is as much a social issue as it is anything else. I do not think that bumper trade deals exist and I do not think being free of the EU presents bountiful opportunities in global trade. I say this as the closest the leave side has to an expert in trade (except for the Boss) - unless you know different.

I think Brexit at best is survivable and have argued for strategies that can help us - but they involve remaining in the single market and spending on international development aid. I'm on my own on that one. This is because Brexit has taken on a life of its own and anything the remainers want, leavers do not want by default. This is the tribalism that has taken hold over both sides as blogger Sam Hooper details here

Hooper argues that tribalism is the obstacle to a favourable and amicable outcome - and he is right, but as it happens nobody is interested in an amicable outcome. In a culture war it's winner takes all and it is a total war - a war of attrition. 

Unsurprisingly immigration is the fault line here. Again, in some respects, Brexit is a proxy for immigration. There are downsides to immigration which our dishonest establishment cannot bring themselves to admit. That moral cowardice and obstinacy is what brings us to Brexit, not xenophobia. 

People are asking why the rape gangs are Pakistani Muslims and why the stabbings in London are perpetrated primarily by blacks. They ask why the Grenfell compensation fraudster are all black. All of this requires an honest debate that we aren't going to have. What we are going to get in place of honest debate is dissembling and equivocation. Fertile grounds for culture war. 

Remainers might well ask what of all this is solved by leaving the EU. I would say not a lot. But then if we have a status quo Brexit where we can contain the economic disruption, or if we remain in the EU then the government can smooth over the cracks and carry on as normal. Again we would kick the can down the road. I do not see that as sustainable. 

The point for me is that there is not much appeal in fighting to maintain the status quo. Remainers tell us we are robbing the youth of their futures but their futures are uncertain anyway. They won't get on the housing ladder, their savings will have poor returns, their jobs will be uncertain and freedom to move around the continent won't be much use. Something has to give. 

So my dilemma is one that remains unresolved. On the one hand we have a Brexit where we can intelligently manage the consequences and maintain the political order, or we can have a Brexit that demolishes political order but also the economic. Both to me, for my own reasons, are equally appealing. It's why I would vote to leave every single time. 

In the end though, I'm kidding myself if I think for a moment that whatever I decide has any influence on the outcome. We have already set the wheels in motion. Either the soufflĂ© will rise or it won't. All I know is that the UK stands at a crossroads. 

We could see a united Ireland, we could see a major recession, and we could see sever civil strife. But all of the effects of Brexit are the consequence of using EU membership as a substitute for resolving political differences. We put politics into hibernation and now we've let the genie out of Pandora's box (to mix a metaphor).

We can already see the working class is on the march again. For all the the continuity remain campaign is well funded with full time operatives in Millbank, their feeble demonstrations on College Green cannot compare to the Football Lads Alliance marches or the protests to free Tommy Robinson. Something unpredictable is unfolding. 

Meanwhile politics is taking on a bizarrely solipsistic quality where wonks and politician churn over Brexit proposals which have already been rejected by Brussels - and the remain campaign is indulging in fantasies of a second referendum when we have already crossed the event horizon. Opposing sides to chose their own disparate fantasies, to which the public are invited to subscribe - irrespective of their relationship with things happening in the real world.

It seems to me that the facadism upheld by politics stemming back to 1997 is crumbling and the so-called liberal democracy is in the wane. I detect a social conservatism reasserting itself while economically we are drifting toward protectionism and socialism. The irony being that Donald Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order would be replicated by a Corbyn government.

What we are looking at is a renewal process. We have to relearn the lessons of the past while correcting what we got wrong. Thatcher's reforms may have modernised the economy but at the same time we are lumbered with vulture capitalism and PPP's sucking the life out of the NHS. The Tory party is a a miserable choice between sell-your-own-granny capitalists or a low toner photocopy of the New Labour authoritarians. Nothing I could vote for.

We are told that Brexiters are fantasists, and to a point that is true. The Tory right have ridiculous and dangerous fantasies about trade and what Brexit can achieve. Brexit is no Singaporean miracle and the free trade they pursue does not exist in the modern world. But when it comes to laughable fantasies, there is no more ridiculous fantasy than the notion that we can overturn Brexit and everything goes back to normal. We have started something here and it is beyond you or I to see which way this goes. 

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The rise of the remainer jihad


Hitherto now I have chastised journos and wonks for saying that Brexit is boring - because there shouldn't be anything boring about the most profound political decision since World War Two. Somehow, though, it has become relentlessly tedious to the point where even I am catatonic with boredom.

I don't choose the word catatonic as a literary flourish. I actually mean it is so boring that my higher intellect has gone into deep hibernation to the point where I am spending hours in the day staring through the walls - so distant that a jumbo jet could crash outside my door and I would barely notice. Until Mrs May makes a decision there is not a lot to be said.

As for what passes for debate, there is still the trench warfare of Twitter but this has degenerated to the point where virtually nobody is interested in technical threads and there is little appetite to go over the border issues for what is now the seventeen billionth time. For the time being it looks like even leavers have been distracted by other things, particularly the Ukip inclined who have been sidetracked by the Tommy Robinson saga.

I have attempted blogging once or twice but find myself writing sentences I have written countless times before. There is still plenty of nonsense to be debunked, particularly the nonsense of the Adam Smith Institute, but if there is one thing I have learned it's that these people do not learn and will keep repeating the same drivel for the duration. Investing energy in that regard is self harm.

I think, though, my present lethargy is through having been at this pretty much every day for the last three years. I really have seen every permutation of every stupid argument. My brain is Brexit saturated. I have developed a thousand yard stare. It takes quite a lot for me to become animated now. Which brings me to this.

Channel 4 footage has come to light showing AC Grayling and MEP, Catherine Bearder, pleading with Guy Verhofstadt to make Brexit more painful - to make it hurt so much that the UK will be begging to be let back in.

At this point very little surprises me but this is absolutely revolting. I may have a beef with the ultra Brexiters because I know hard Brexit will hurt the country - but at least they believe it won't even if they are categorically wrong. Remainers, however, are now so sick in their petty vindictiveness that they actually do want to hurt the country.

Previously I'd always frowned on Ukippers using phrases like "traitorous quisling scum" but there are times when no other words will do because anything else would be inaccurate. The joke of it is, though, unless Mrs May makes the right choices in the coming weeks, there is nothing the EU could possibly do to us that the ultra Brexiters are not planning on doing to us anyway. If Grayling and Bearder really want Brexit to sting all they need do is leave Jacob Rees-Mogg to his own devices. 

What we see here though is a level of treachery even I didn't think the remainers were capable of. AC Grayling's descent into lunacy is well documented but this is now full on Brexit Derangement Syndrome turned jihadist. This is not just a private war on democracy. It has now developed into a full blown loathing of Britain. As to the EU, we see here how its denizens (behind closed doors) really think. Who would want to be a member of that?