Sunday, 20 January 2019

Nowhere close to ready

From here on it there is little point in looking at British media. It no more knows what is going on than anybody else and if anything serves only to add further to the mountain of misapprehension. In respect of that the paywall on British newspapers might just be the greatest invention of the century thus far. With our politics in chaos, consumed by procedure and plot, we have to look elsewhere for information. 

One of the thing that has always been missing from British media is any obligation to report on events and issues relating to the EU in any depth or seriousness. That is, in part, why we are where we are. EU watchers have long relied on specialists such as Euractiv. They are reporting (translated from French) that;
There are only 71 days left before the date set for the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. And after the rejection of the Brexit agreement by the House of Commons on January 15, preparations French sides to the scenario of "no-deal" have accelerated. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe described it as "less and less improbable" on Thursday, 17 January. "I made the decision to trigger the Brexit plan without agreement," he said.
Prepared since April 2018, this plan must serve to provide a "legal framework that meets the challenges" of such a situation. Legislation empowering the government to make an extraordinary order will be enacted within a week.
These measures mainly concern French ports and airports, the points on the front line, on the border with the United Kingdom. The Hauts-de-France region is particularly concerned, with the ports of Dunkirk, Boulogne-sur-Mer and especially Calais, where 200 billion goods transit every year. A third of everything that comes in or comes out of the island of Britain. "We are obviously worried, because it's something new, whether with or without agreement," says Jean-Paul Mulot, the Region's representative in the UK.
The ports of the region could become transit points for goods and people from all over Europe as from March 29 in case of "no-deal", with all the additional controls brought about by the exit of the single market.
The executive explains that a plan "will be launched in the coming days. Each port was responsible for defining the nature of the necessary work: it will be the construction of car parks or the establishment of control buildings ". 50 million euros will be allocated specifically to ports and airports.
Given the urgency of the situation, Jean-Paul Mulot ensures that the Region "is not late but the timing is very tight." And uncertainty does not help. "We have put options to buy land and modal structures in the Tunnel and Calais because we do not yet know the outcome of the problem," explains the representative.
"It will require additional parking areas, both for import and for export, supports Christian Minet, director of the port of Dunkirk. Either inside the port, or in the back-zone. The enabling law provides precisely to shake up some urban planning rules to authorize the construction as soon as possible.
But again, the size of the infrastructure depends on the outcome of the serial Brexit. "All the necessary arrangements must be made by the beginning of February at the latest. We hope that it will be enough to be ready at the time of the Brexit ", warns the director Dunkirk.
A large part of these developments concern the control of goods. "Until now, there was only one Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service at the borders (Sivep), in Dunkirk, with only five employees," says Jean-Paul Mulot. These Sivep are used to carry out health checks on goods coming from outside the EU.
Another is now under construction in Calais, "on the grounds of the port," says Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the Straits Ports Company, which includes Calais and Boulogne. "However, we do not intend to control the export," he notes, preferring to leave his burden to the British.
The recruitment of control personnel is nevertheless crucial to the proper functioning of port activities. There are no less than 200 customs officers and 200 health control officers who are expected on all Hauts-de-France. The government has set up accelerated training to meet needs and ensures that "600 recruitments will be made in the coming weeks".
The basic gist here is the French, contrary to the words of Jean-Marc Puissesseau (widely reported by a breathless Brexit propaganda effort), are nowhere close to ready.

At this point, anybody serious has stopped looking to either the government of the media for information and will instead be making their own plans but the real danger here is that the British political class and the media have no idea what's about to hit them. Many have convinced themselves that this amounts to little more than a Y2K bug panic. The rest just don't want to know. They've had their reassurances from a voice of prestige and that will do for them.

As often laments, there is no real interest from the media. Should concerns be raised again it will simply lead to a television slot where Jacob Rees-Mogg or one of the other reality deniers will be rolled out to offer up their alternative facts and the media caravan will move on to the next distraction.

Worse still, the general mood on all sides is one of sheer exhaustion and fatigue. Those who aren't terrified that is. Some are watching what is unfolding in full anticipation of losing their livelihoods. Politics seems to have lost sight of the stakes involves, ever obsessed with Westminster scheming. Some have drifted away from British politics entirely to indulge in the latest drama from the USA.

That of itself is telling. The Covington Boys saga unfolding in Washington couldn't have less to do with what immediately concerns us, save for it being yet another milestone in the debasement of the media, yet that has the full attention of Twitter. When all's said and done trivia will always win out. 

Then again, with so many MPs barking up so many wrong trees and chasing parked cars, we simply have to wait it out. With half a dozen agendas in play, all of them doomed to failure, the attention of MPs is absorbed and minds will not focus until crunch time, assuming they ever do. Will they even realise when crunch time is upon them?

With a parliament this fragmented and so fundamentally lacking talent, there seems to be a sense of inevitability creeping in on all sides. Parliament ultimately does not want to make a decision so they revert to displacement activity. The process will make their choices for them. This is British politics in its death throes.

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