Wednesday 27 June 2018

The lies they tell

The thing about Brexit is it's all about details. The more you know the harder it is. I noticed this a few days ago while appearing on Radio Wales. I listened to the godawful Godfrey Bloom rattle off a rehearsed litany of tropes as to why Airbus will be unaffected by a hard Brexit. This is easy to do when when your mind is not cross-referencing rhetoric with knowledge. It's much harder when you have to gather you thoughts and try to impart accurate information.

You can see an example of this dynamic in this TV debate between Alison McGovern and Robert Oulds. McGovern is is out of her depth and is thrown by the question as to why China could continue as an Airbus supplier while the UK could not. She knows that there probably is a reason but is unable to put her finger on it. This allows Oulds to effortlessly vomit out the standard diversionary tactics which largely go unchallenged by the presenter.

This is a microcosm of the entire debate where the half-informed are up against the totally ignorant who are willing to lie without remorse. I wish I could say it gets easier for knowing more but before you can tackle the argument you first need to explain how the system works which can't really be done on the hoof in a short media slot.

Generally speaking TV news is a poor medium for communicating anything remotely complicated - especially when you're talking about integrated regulatory systems where the results vary according to the outcome. This is the inherent weakness in the debate that propagandists love to exploit.

What we're now dealing with is a war of a attrition where, for the Brexit blob, no lie is too big and any lie will do. The agenda in play is for the UK to leave the European regulatory sphere at all costs and they'll devote considerable energy to that cause.

We see this same tactic deployed by BrexitCentral, a Tufton Street sock puppet operation, which has never knowingly told the truth. Here we have Victoria Hewson of the IEA straw-manning the EEA option.
There are also Leave supporters who support this kind of model: they see it as a way of managing the process of leaving the EU in a low-impact way, either by eventually graduating out of the European Economic Area (EEA) after we have re-built systems and capacity, or reforming the way it works from within.
But these approaches rest on highly-flawed assumptions, including that free movement of people could be controlled from within the EEA by deploying safeguard mechanisms that Liechtenstein is allowed to operate; that EFTA EEA states can opt out of Single Market regulations they don’t like (they can’t, unless they want to lose their market access, which would defeat the object of being in the EEA); and that most Single Market regulation and standard setting is agreed at a global level anyway so we would be involved in developing it in global fora and not a rule-taker at all (which, if that were the case, begs the question as to why we would need to be in the EEA); and that the EU, and the other EFTA EEA, states will be happy to re-balance and renegotiate the deal to accommodate us.
It's not really worth my time or yours to go into any great detail debunking this because the tactic here is a form of political judo - forcing opponents to invest more energy in deconstructng their propaganda than they used to produce it. I could sit here dismantling every claim in detail until the small hours when they took less than ten minutes to produce it. 

All we can really conclude is that Hewson has such a shallow understanding of the issues that the point of the EEA option escapes her entirely - or that she is an accomplice to lie. 

Very briefly I would note that the triggering of Article 112 sets off a political process whereby the UK would have to set out its proposed remedy for freedom of movement and negotiate with the EU the corresponding retaliation. Secondly adopting rules directly from the global level (thereby achieving parity with the EU) does not confer any automatic single market participation rights. The thing about the single market is that you is either in it, or you ain't. 

I could say more but it doesn't make a dent. These people are not engaged in a debate nor will they respond to debate. No matter how comprehensively debunked they are they will continue to repackage the same handful of lies and distribute them to a willing audience. They have institutional prestige and pole position withing the London bubble so they don't think they need to go the extra mile. They got lazy. 

The problem they have is that they're running out of steam. They can't keep whitewashing the complexity of Brexit forever and there comes a tipping point where the real world consequences of Brexit cannot be written off as "project fear". It has not gone unnoticed that the Tory right ideas engines are manned almost entirely by obnoxious teenagers and Legatum rejects. Nor has it gone unnoticed that for all they protest about the EEA they have yet to offer a coherent alternative. 

Sooner or later this is going to come to a head. Mrs May will trot off to Brussels with her white paper in hand, peppered with all the misapprehensions and delusions of the think tank set, only to be told what she has been told for months. No. There is no plan B single market, there is no alternate system of equivalence, there is no mutual recognition solution, no magic wand technology - and third country means third country. It's then a simple choice. Either you want to stay in business with the EU or you don't. Everything else is just noise. 

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Brexit is only a baby step in the battle for sovereignty

The EU started with the Coal and Steel Community. The theory was that if coal and steel were a common resource then Germany and France would not fight over it. Globalisation made this somewhat redundant but that has been the thinking ever since. It is in the DNA of the EU which is why it will never substantively reform.

Not for nothing is aerospace manufacturing distributed between a number of EU member states. Airbus over the years has been the recipient of massive subsidies to split its production - preferably to struggling regions. Arguably this has contributed to the gradual hollowing out of UK aircraft manufacturing.

Behind Airbus, which is justifiably described as a European job creation scheme, is the mentality of me-tooism. America has Boeing and its jumbo jets so the EU must have Airbus and the ill-conceived A380 white elephant - now made obsolete by more efficient aircraft such as the A350 and Boeing 787. The same can be said of Galileo. The EU just loves its baubles and trinkets of nationhood.

Virtually every major initiative from the EU follows this particular pattern - erode national capabilities, centralise the decision making and then make member states hopelessly dependent on the EU. The threat of Airbus leaving our shores has often been used to leverage political decisions in the EU's favour.

Not for nothing is the EU commonly compared with the USSR in that it shares the same penchant for central economic planning and emblems of power and prestige. What this ultimately leads to is an invisible leash on member states where in theory they can exercise sovereignty but in practice cannot. Very often the EU doesn't tells us what to do but limits the scope of what we can do meaning the only thing left is what the EU had in mind to begin with. This is why alarm bells ring when I see moves toward a European Energy Union. The agreed text was released yesterday:
The goal of a resilient Energy Union with an ambitious climate policy at its core is to give Union consumers, both households and businesses, secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy, which requires a fundamental transformation of Europe's energy system. That objective can only be achieved through coordinated action, combining both legislative and nonlegislative acts at Union and national level. 
Typically your average remainer will look at this and ask what's wrong with that? Who doesn't want clean, green affordable energy? These will be the remainers who only took an interest in EU affairs on the 23rd June 2016. Us leavers, however, know what it means in practice.

In practice it means centrally decided targets (which are never a good idea irrespective of the subject matter), subsidies for white elephants - usually regional job creation schemes like the Swansea tidal lagoon, along with energy production quotas and inter-connectors designed to ensure interdependence - and consequently a loss of energy sovereignty. All in the name of market based competition. This is is why remainers are often baffled as to why the EU is criticised as both "neoliberal" as well as comparable to the USSR.

It is actually neither. This is just the "Ever closer union" root command in action - to remove decision making from member states, bringing it all under the supervision of the Commission and the ECJ, ensuring national governments are obliged to import at least some of their energy from within the Market - and of course to meet green energy targets irrespective of how much it pushes up bills.

What this means is that if a government is thrown out of office and replaced by one with a radically different set of ideas, previous acts installing the EU energy union will be binding, along with all the targets - with wheels set in motion on infrastructure spending which cannot be reversed.

So if, in the unlikely event that we had an actual conservative government that believed in conservatism, and they decided that "green jobs" were makework bullshit - and that the job of the energy sector is to produce cheap energy so as to drive down costs for consumers and manufactures (making business more competitive and giving the less well off a break), they will still be locked into the broader EU policy. So much for democracy.

This is something of a moot point since our establishment tends to produce bland virtue signalling narcissists who have long abandoned any sense of conservatism - and when together in a room with the rest of Europe's showboating elites on some summit or jamboree, they will sign up to yet more commitments paid for by us irrespective of whether we want them to or not.

This is is essentially why Brexit is as much a culture war as it is a campaign for sovereignty. Our rulers like to look and feel important so they host grandiose and "urgent" global summits in order to parade their virtue to the world. This is why they hate Trump because he's not part of the groupthink and doesn't conform to the consensus.

This elite groupthink tends to be tin-eared, completely oblivious to the democratic messages sent to them - and because they're surrounded by NGOs they believe they're acting in the greater good. They believe these moves are popular with their electorates. This is why we are seeing a resurgence of populist movements across Europe. Unenlightened plebs are more concerned about the cost of living and job security than hugging bunnies.

But this is why Brexit is also not enough. The Leave Alliance has often made the case that European regulatory initiatives do not begin life in the EU. More often than not they are global agendas. From banking regulation though to climate obligations, these measures are global and EU legislation that follows merely enacts those global accords. The EU just uses the opportunity to further its own integrationist agenda. This energy union is no different.
(23a) Member States should develop long-term [ ] strategies with a perspective of at least 30 years contributing to the fulfilments of the Member States' commitments under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, in the context of the objective of the Paris Agreement of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and achievement of longterm greenhouse gas emission reductions and enhancements of removals by sinks in all sectors in line with the Union’s objective. Member States should develop their strategies in an open and transparent manner and should ensure effective opportunities for the public to participate in their preparation. The integrated national energy and climate plans and the long-term strategies should be consistent with each other.
But this is also why Brexit of itself doesn't resolve much. It is a great thing to be leaving such an entity but in the end our government is just as likely to sign the UK up to these exact same global conventions as an independent state.

This is why Brexit is unlikely to result in a bonfire of regulation simply because that which is not necessary for continued trade with the EU will have its genesis in a global agreement. I had hoped that Brexit might bring an end to the plague of wind turbines (another bullshit makework scheme) - but the targets we're working to are not of EU origin.

Of course, removing the EU from the mix certainly gives us more room for manoeuvre but leaving the EU does not unplug us from the global system - and diplomatically it would be unwise to do so - much though we might wish to.

This gives us some indication of the battles future generations will have. As the global system matures every branch of global governance will be in thrall to the same pseudo-progressive dogma where we see ever more Malthusian authoritarian measures to kill off democracy and the sovereignty of the nation state. In some respects the WTO is already there which explains the American attitude to it.

With this in mind you might then wonder why I am an advocate of the EEA when there every probability that the EU energy union will partly apply to the UK. The truth be known I am not the biggest fan of the EEA either. The relationship is based on a win some, lose some basis, where EEA states can still be steamrollered - or worse; we have a europhile government that won't put up a fight - much like Norway.

On the face of it that is no good for the UK, but should we leave the EEA, not only will be still be bound by international conventions, one way or another we will have to forge our own regulatory responses which won't look that much different to EU legislation. Given the EU is a regulatory superpower and our closest neighbour, it will still influence what we do.

I am of the view that EEA solution can work if we have an assertive government with its own ideas, acting in the national interest and willing to use its veto - blocking these such measures at the Efta and global level. But that really depends on domestic politics. Any mode of Brexit is largely useless without a political and cultural revolution here in the UK.

Given our domestic politics is hopelessly trained in the vassal state mentality after forty years of EU membership, and a willing participant in the dismantling of democracy, it's going to take a lot more than a simple referendum.

Our politics is is ideas free because it's not used to having to generate ideas. The big ideas like the energy union all come from deep within the bowels of the EU Commission (another reason why the EU is not a democracy) - all part of the creeping technocratic agenda. Our indolent politicians are only too happy to go along with it because it means they enjoy all the privileges of power but none of the responsibility.

This is why we have had a succession of zombie administrations obsessed with trivia and engaged in displacement activity. Anything more complicated that deciding what adverts should be allowed on the underground is beyond their ken - and this is why we increasingly see what should be local issues debated in the national parliament.

An EEA Brexit for the moment is entirely adequate. It repatriates trade, fishing, agriculture, home affairs and a sizeable chunk of energy policy (among other things) - which gives them enough to be getting on with for now. Meanwhile it provides a stable platform for continued trade.

In spirit I am a hard Brexier but all the evidence points to the need for a more gradual softer Brexit otherwise it will all go south faster than our politics is is equipped to cope with. Maybe when we have a government worthy of its name we can rethink our position but first our government needs to develop a taste for sovereignty and remember again who it serves.

Judging from the level of debate on Twitter between trade wonks and civil servants we can see that there is a poverty of trade experience and a narrow definition of how to pursue UK interests. Again we see how they have fallen prey to the Brussels mindset and can think only in terms of FTAs. We have a long way to go before we are ready to be a fully independent nation and I expect it will take us twenty years to get there. Who can say what the global outlook will be by then?

Like my fellow Brexiters I want full independence and I want it now, but I fear my comrades underestimate the state of decay and how ill equipped we are to take it all on. If we're going to do this we have to do it right and we must be patient. Good things come to those who wait.

Monday 25 June 2018

Time to get real.

The outcome of Brexit, assuming we can get as far as a withdrawal agreement without unleashing Ragnarok, will depend on whether the UK is capable of absorbing a few basic facts.

Theresa May will have a stack of letters on her desk from most of the multinationals operating in the UK and they will all be saying much the same thing - they need continued participation in EU regulatory systems if they are to continue investing in the UK.

Upon which depends a number of secondary and tertiary industries where we'd be looking at shedding over a million jobs as a starter for ten. How May responds to this depends entirely on what sort of poison she's being fed by her closest advisers - and who is informing them.

At last examination May still thinks we can leave the single market but opt in to various single market systems. Various think tanks with some influence are telling May this is possible when it isn't - and the EU has already made its guiding principles quite clear.

Since this has not yet sunk in with Number Ten - and the details can be shunted into the transition period we probably won't get a clear idea of where this goes until after we have formally left the EU. May will have to be told no to her face and then go and have a rethink.

Meanwhile the Brexit chatterati are churning over the possibility of an association agreement. I'm not convinced as it's just an FTA with some added dangly bits none of which will go as far as inclusion in EU regulatory systems and will not give observer status in EU agencies.

To get anywhere close to adequate we would need to include the Swiss arrangement for food safety controls (with direct ECJ applicability) but we also need a comprehensive agreement on everything from fisheries to aviation - probably consisting of shallow bilaterals.

The reason being is that the EU is not about to recreate the single market for the sole benefit of the UK and if the UK has decided it wants none of the obligations then it will get none of the rights. We'll maybe get some enhanced market participation but only on EU terms.

It will take some time for our idiot media to process this but at that point major UK employers will be screaming from the rooftops or will already have made their decision to bail on the UK. It won't be an overnight event - rather it will be a gradual deflation of operations.

There is, therefore, still plenty of time in which to push for the EEA. The EU can't go far beyond a basic FTA and there is no way to reinvent the EEA wheel without the EU putting its foot down and telling us yet again that there is no cherrypicking.

It can flex on some things and bend the rules and come up with fudges but it will not compromise on its overarching system integrity and will only flex in those instances where it has political obligations such as the NI border. The message is clear.

The short of it is that nothing short of the EEA is adequate for the breadth of issues our future relationship must cover and you cant have single market participation without being in it. No amount of guesswork and theorising from London think tanks changes that.

So anybody who is serious about Brexit and getting the best deal possible needs to face up to this reality and work to ensure that when the crunch comes that Theresa May is boxed in by reality.

If you're a Brexiter the time to quit the tedious trench warfare of re-fighting the referendum is now. The Brexit blob may insist that the EEA is bad but every alternative they set out stands on a foundation of intellectual sand. Their cupboard is bare.

This is why the pro-Brexit thinks tanks and their juvenile staffers have retreated to mouthing platitudes. They're trying to hold the line against the weight of argument that favours the EEA Efta option and when it comes to the meatier arguments they've got nothing to run on.

Their doctrines are based on free market philosophy - which they interpret as a race to the bottom in terms of regulation and taxation to make us competitive. What they don't understand is the ways in which the EU and other will lawfully retaliate.

Even without the UK the EU is still a trade superpower and it is not going to tolerate a tax haven of its coast and it is going to ensure that if the UK drops the regulatory standard for market entry it puts the UK in a quarantine.

We can see how this works in practice. Trump is playing the bully boy, attempting to back door the WTO but it's spectacularly backfiring and isolating America. If it won't work the US then it won't work for this rainy little island either.

Economic doctrines are fine as a guiding philosophy but they have to be informed by reality and that's the bit the Tory Brexit blob has problems with. They can convince themselves of anything but they are in for a big shock. The world doesn't work the way they think it does.

The truth they must embrace is that Brexit doesn't make the EU go away and we need a comprehensive relationship with it and there's no scenario where our closest neighbour will not influence UK trade policy and technical governance. You don't have to like it, but there it is.

Sunday 24 June 2018

Free trade is just a slogan

I suppose it is excusable for most people not to understand modern trade. It is to most people as boring as I find football. That's why wibble about "free markets" sounds superficially plausible. But free markets don't exist and we should be mighty pleased about that.

We have a whole myriad of market controls, regulation and taxes to keep trade working - and to keep it honest where we can. This is why we have advanced market surveillance systems and we keep records so we can have a risk assessment based system.

For instance, there is a good reason why we have strict controls on trade with India. They are known for fraudulently bulking out wheat shipments with husks and other adulterants. Sometimes with lethal consequences.

And then last year was the first year with no fatalities in airline travel. That did not happen by accident. We have strict controls so that we have full records of airline spares procurement and we can trace the materials right through to the quarries the ores came out of.

We also spend a great deal on systems to combat counterfeiting. When an American Airlines plane smashed into a Colombian mountainside, outlaw salvagers didn't even wait for all 159 victims' bodies to be collected before they moved in.

Using sophisticated tools, they extracted engine thrust reversers, cockpit avionics and other valuable components from the shattered Boeing 757 and then used helicopters to fly the parts off the steep ridge. Miami is a global centre for spares fraud.

This is why we have elaborate customs systems. This is why we insist on traceability standards and proof of conformity assessment. This is why we need to hire inspectors and employ labs for quality control. The quality of goods we have on the shelves doesn't happen by accident.

This allows us to buy with confidence - not least because we have a trading standards system that protects consumer rights - and that adds productivity and value to the economy.

This is why I am not taken by the ideas of free market ideologues and those who waffle about "free trade". The black market is the only place where truly free markets occur - with all the violence and death that goes with it.

We all want taxes to be lower but the bottom line comes down to a few basic facts of life. People are bastards. If you look into illicit trade the sheer depravity and inventiveness of people really will shock you. Food fraud is a major issue.

Even in Europe we find condemned food stolen by black marketeers and re-labelled somewhere on a factory ship and passed off as genuine. We wouldn't be able to detect it without multi-agency enforcement. And guess what kids? None of it comes for free.

A recent World Customs Organisation blitz on counterfeit medicines found in Africa that “Of the 243 maritime containers inspected, 150 contained illicit or counterfeit products". That's an epidemic. This doesn't happen in the UK. Do you think that is by accident?

As to the issue of tariffs, they can be used as a tool against predatory practices and surplus dumping. We use them in order to regulate markets to ensure their long term continuity. Radical disruption can be healthy but not when it's fly by nights trying to make a quick buck. We also find that very often imports are illegally subsidised which destroys UK capacity - and when that happens we are then vulnerable to price gouging. This is why we maintain trade defences.

And then there is the trade facilitation aspect of regulation. Harmonisation removes inefficiencies from supply chains which means you have greater choice at better prices. Harmonisation removes the overheads for goods and services crossing borders.

When you understand all this "free markets" and "free trade" looks far less appealing. To me they sound like empty slogans precisely because that's exactly what they are. Whenever you hear these such slogans you're either dealing with a charlatan or someone not very bright.

But as I said in the opening paragraph - it's normal for most ordinary people not to know any of this. Good government is invisible government. It's not known to most people because it works quite well. Its invisibility is the hallmark of a good system.

It's only when we have things like the horsemeat scandal that people really notice - and we are able to rapidly correct the system because we have detailed intelligence on the supply chains. Our response is only as effective as our market surveillance.

This is why it is going to be essential to maintain a high level of regulatory cooperation with the EU irrespective of Brexit. The single market has its faults but it's a better model than the deregulation fantasies of juvenile Tories and their lacklustre think tanks.

This really hits home how inadequate the ideas machines of London have become. If you are going to preach free markets and free trade you should at least have a functioning idea of how it works. But instead they give us @LowTaxChloe. A moron. That's what's driving hard Brexit.

I'm a Brexiter because I think trade cooperation can be achieved without political union. I do not want the UK to be a subordinate member of a European proto-state - but the single market is a nifty piece of trade technology we would be fools to turn our backs on.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Brexit: arresting the decline

Brexit thus far has been an education for me. It has been a lesson in how low people can sink and how big a lie politicians are willing to tell. Just lately the sky's the limit. Nothing makes me angrier than those politicians and personalities in the Brexit debate who will continue to lie without responding to criticisms or inputs. Information is like water off a ducks back.

What sickens more more is how bovine and tribal people become in support of liars. It matters not how much effort one puts into learning how the the EU works and the limitations of our choice. Some are determined to impress their fantasies onto reality come what may. They are brazen in the way they do it, totally shameless and cynical to the core. I have never seen politics so lacking integrity.

This applies to leavers and remainers alike. Their narratives can turn on a sixpence without any explanation or evolution and they pretend they thought that all along. They do it because there's nothing there to hold them to account. Certainly not our media which has no institutional memory and no memory of events going back more than a fortnight.

Their behaviour is also increasingly foul natured - never ever addressing arguments, instead preferring character assassination and weaponising indignation. They cheat, they lie, they plagiarise and they bully.

A more recent development is even more troubling. I am often chastised for attacking certain individuals instead of what they say - but actually that's because they say nothing at all substantive. If they did I would have the material to comprehensively take them to pieces - but they are merely goblins flinging excrement at each other along tribal lines.

The one thing they all have in common, though, is that they are all in the sphere of the London media. It's no coincidence.

It would seem that most people do not follow the arguments, rather they choose people they perceive to be on their team and cheer them on. There is no strategic thought going on here. There is no defence of values. Each side may have their little scriptures and nostrums but they don't actually stand for anything or have any clear idea of what they want. they don't care what happens just so long as the other side loses.

This is what makes me the odd man out in that I think we, the public, lose if any of them win outright. I would no more like to see the Tory right prevail than I would Corbyn and his band of jew hating miscreants. Nominally that would make me a centrist but when we cast our eyes to the centre we find cowards just trying to stay out of the storm or self-serving, ideas free party clones with no talent, charisma or intellect.

A more cynical person might just say that this is politics as it has always been only social media brings us closer to the source under a more intensive light where we can see it warts and all. That much is true, and there have long been signs that our politics is dysfunctional but Brexit has unleashed merry hell.

The reason for this being that this political apparatus of ours is not usually tasked with accomplishing anything. Largely it is parasitic, distracts by trivia and only seldom manages to do something useful. The rest of the time it spends virtue signalling and grandstanding, passing ever more authoritarian and insipid laws, gradually eroding the fabric of our system of law while lavishing our money on their vanity projects and gesture bombing.

Brexit, however, requires them to focus and understand something to a greater depth than they are used to - requiring their full attention and engagement in detail. Ordinarily the civil service manages to keep things ticking over and limit the damage they can do, but this requires competent decision making based on quality information. It is simply outside of their capabilities. Our politics does not produce people capable of directing change or responding to it.

Partly the problem is the media and the think tank set who are no longer capable of producing quality information and wouldn't know where to look for it, not least because their horizons do not extend much further than Westminster and if they don't know something they cannot be told since they're arrogant enough to think they know it all already.

We therefore have a set of self-satisfied, self-congratulatory wastrels who consort only with each other, producing an inbred exclusive pool of squirming ambition and ego. Considering themselves to be important, swept away by the prestige and glamour of the Westminster life, they have no concept of anything outside the bubble and have no use for it.

It therefore festers, developing its own insular culture, driven largely by orally transmitted gossip, factoid and narrative. This is what produces the Westminster politico-media groupthink and this is why its invincible stupidity cannot be corrected.

Around this has gown an entertainment industry where there are many who think they engage in politics when what they actually engage with is politics as a hobby, not to achieve anything, but for self-gratification and entertainment. This is why we see the rise of the celebrity public intellectual. They become tribal chieftains and through their various media platforms project their handful of tropes to a willing audience who will praise them no matter how tired the narrative or how remarkably unoriginal.

Then of course each media vessel will have its own think tank de jour, and their favoured prestige entity from which to draw their "experts". Here is where we find flim flam artists masquerading as experts ever keen to tell those higher up the chain precisely what they want to hear. Then of course no think tank is complete without the must-have fashion accessory - a telegenic twenty-something girlie (of either sex) to parade on Question Time.

They will be bland, compliant functionaries not known for knowing things, nor valued for knowing things - rather their value is their availability, their low running costs and their willingness to regurgitate anything they are told. Since they have institutional prestige it doesn't actually matter that they are drooling imbeciles.

This cosy little set up has served politics well while under the dead hand of Brussels rule, where the real business of policy is dealt with by Commission technocrats negotiated between corporate lobbyists and NGOs. UK politics has no aptitude for policymaking because it never goes anywhere near policy. Their idea of policy is banning things and taxing things. They are entirely blind to governance systems and have no idea how one thing interacts with the next.

This is made worse by way of being anchored to dogmatic political philosophies, most of which are obsolete and impractical and entirely unrealistic. This has been kept at bay for decades as the EU has served as a technocratic backstop that keeps them from interfering with the running of things. One might very well argue that this is an attractive facet of the EU.

But then the longer term consequence of this is a political system entirely unfamiliar with the art of governance and statecraft which is why it has become so shallow, self-absorbed and intellectually exhausted. Without the EU as a backstop things very rapidly fall apart.

The problem with this configuration though is that the EU is remote, unresponsive and things do not change because the system is designed to prevent change. We therefore experience policy obsolescence without the means to address the problems and lacking quality institutions through which to affect meaningful change.

That is the root cause of the disaffection and the growing cultural gulf between the public and the politicians. That it the very essence of Brexit where the public have decided they will tolerate this no longer and are willing to stomach the uncertainty and turmoil in order to resolve it.

But this then leaves me at a loss to understand why those who voted for Brexit would lavish praise upon the chattering classes of the politico media set just because they opportunistically endorse Brexit. How hollow it sounds to hear Brendan O'Neill and Julia Dunning-Kruger droning on about the "chattering classes" when they're ever present on Sky News and write for The Spectator.

Now that we have voted to leave the EU it seems the chances of successfully extracting ourselves from this mess seem remote. Our politics and media simply isn't up to the job. It doesn't seem possible that they can learn, focus and grow as people to handle such an undertaking. It is little wonder that remainers are doing all within their power to avoid the inevitable fallout.

So it then because a more base question not of EU membership, rather it is one of whether you think we can simply tolerate degraded politics and degraded institutions or whether we need to go through this corrective process in the hope of arresting the decline.

I am of the view that this is simply something that must be done. The fallout, whatever that may be will either kill or cure. It has only a fifty fifty chance of succeeding. If we no longer have the mettle to make a go of self governance then in the end we will drift back to be subsumed by the EU (assuming it doesn't implode).

There is, of course, the other possibility, that the failure and indeed the collapse of our politics, will be the right catalyst for sweeping democratic reforms. The demand is certainly there and I do not see how this Westminster circus can carry on in its current form. With it being preoccupied by Brexit, councils will have to do more and do better and the public themselves will have to takes some responsibility.

Even with fifty fifty odds you can see why at least half the country thinks it is worth a punt. Culturally I don't think politics could get much worse than it already is. It is also why we cannot be persuaded by economic arguments of remainers. It's a question of whether we choose to be economic units grazing on the land, managed from afar and distracted by faux-politics which exists only to serve a a proxy for what we have lost - or whether we choose genuine democracy and the responsibilities and obligations that go  with it.

I am of the view that without functioning politics we cannot have a functioning society. Having hollowed out citizenship it is easy to see why the youth could so casually barter it away for a European railcard and freedom from roaming charges. I do not think though, that this is a healthy way for humans to exist. We are a community minded species, and it matters that we have our own politics, customs and ideas and the ability to express ourselves through our processes.

I don't ever envisage a time where politics will not be the domain of liars and other assorted pondlife but I think it within our grasp to make them responsible, accountable and answerable to us. If that is the ultimate legacy of Brexit then it will be worth whatever it costs.

The state of play...

I didn't actually understand the point of any "meaningful vote" amendment. The financial settlement is untouchable, the agreement on citizens rights is adequate and the NI settlement will be a backstop in accordance with the political agreement.

There was, therefore, no tinkering to be done after the fact and not really enough time to do it. As to the framework for a future relationship all we know is that it will be a detailed political statement - but the substance is not hashed out until we have formally left.

There probably will be a vote on it at some point, but Parliament really only increases the risks of accidental Brexit by meddling. That's the one thing David Davis is right about. It can't compel the EU to do anything.

It would, therefore, be a simple vote on whether to rubber stamp it or whether to crash out. They could force May to run for an extension but for what possible purpose when trade talks are confined to the transition period?

But then what became clear from the session with Verhofstadt today is that some MPs do still think that Article 50 is the full process including trade. It was embarrassing to see the Hof have to spell out the basics.

MPs are ill advised to meddle with the Withdrawal Agreement because it wouldn't achieve anything save for a largely pointless delay in which we would see pushback from the government just to wind down the clock. It's not going to stop Brexit.

I also got a certain gut feeling that Grieve has had a visit from the men in grey suits spelling out the facts of life - because the one thing this government knows, irrespective of what form it takes, they are dead meat unless we leave the EU.

I didn't bother tuning in for this charade largely because it's Westminster white noise - which as usual has very little bearing on the process. Amendments to the trade bill might have some significance but even then it cannot bind either the government or the EU.

In fact, if they try tacking on a customs union or single market amendment in the next round then if they are defeated again, that actually makes it easier for the government to carry on on the Lancaster House trajectory. From the beginning MPs have been strategically inept.

Worse still, the EEA advocates in the Commons tend to be the ones who have acted in bad faith from since before the referendum. They've all switched their rhetoric in line with my arguments despite being responsible for most of the EEA mythology.

So now it looks like the effort to secure an EEA Brexit comes from the duplicitous remainer camp who have simultaneously been working to derail Brexit. No leaver on this earth is going to trust what they say or their motives so they are tainting the best option by association.

If they'd accepted the vote with honour and dignity and not sought to re-fight the referendum they would at least have the respect of moderate leavers but instead they have massaged divisions and played the victim throughout. Their behaviour has been disgusting.

But then the Ultras only have themselves to blame for that by pretending the mandate to leave the EU was also a mandate for the hard economic right shock doctrine theories. They have also acted in bad faith on the slenderest of mandates.

So now there is a good chance that we won't stay in the EEA and we will all lose because of it. We end up with a vassal state Brexit a magnitude worse than the EEA solution. Our MPs have not acted with honour in the spirit of compromise that the vote demanded.

I do not see the matter as closed though. Parliament can prat about fro a while longer and the game doesn't get serious until we move to the trade talks post-exit. That means there is still a few more months to make the case for EEA Efta.

Politically it might look dead in the water but from a technical perspective it is the only way I can see that offers a whole UK solutions and accomplishes most of what we leavers want. That reality will become apparent eventually as we see how dismal the alternatives are.

The Brexitologists and think tankers are kicking around the notion of an association agreement or a single market in goods only but they don't seem to be able to pin down how that would work or even demonstrate it as something on offer.

I don't think the EU will allow a SM agreement in goods only. The SM is an integrated system and regulatory alignment on goods is useless without the recognition of qualifications and certifications. That extends far beyond the basics. EU will call that cherry picking.

The closest we will get to that is something akin with the Swiss deal which involves adopting the EU rules verbatim with no inputs and with direct ECJ applicability (unlike Norway). Brexiters ought to hate that more than the EEA. The smart ones will anyway.

Moreover, the daft ideas floated by IEA/Legatum/Open Europe depend on a model of mutual recognition that is not available and is not going to happen so I think they are in for a shock. The EU has said either an FTA or EEA and there's nothing in between. I believe them.

That is roughly in line with what Ivan Rogers has said and I more or less agree with him. He's mostly right in what he says. If and when that penny drops the argument for EEA should be unarguable. Not least since the Ultras simply don't have a better plan.

Rees-Mogg: delusional conman

People are right to observe that the EU does flex its own rules but very often when it does it is invoking emergency measures or articles inside a particular legal framework. That, though, cannot extend to Brexit.

When the UK leaves it will become a third country. Standard third country treatment will apply. That new relationship could evolve to include further customs cooperation but it would have to be part of a formal agreement.

What the EU is not going to do is enter any agreement that compromises its own legal order. Any agreement allowing the free(ish) movement of goods would mean that any UK regulatory divergence would have to be supervised and mutually agreed.

It is not, as Rees-Mogg suggests, able to recognise UK standards and regulations if there is no coordination between the EU and the UK. To do so would allow the UK to unilaterally set the minimum standard for goods to enter the market.

To put that in more familiar terms, the EU will protect its own sovereignty and police its own frontiers in accordance with international law and EU treaty law. Any exemption granted to the UK would have to be replicated throughout and extended to all third countries.

No matter how much Rees-Mogg twists and distorts his reading of WTO law, the fundamental principles will be observed. His mindless disciples may be convinced but his assertions do not withstand exposure to the real world.

In the case of a no deal Brexit the situation becomes worse in that there would be no formal relations with the EU since all of our trade relations are tied up in the treaties. No deal means that you do not have a deal, treaty, accord, or whatever you want to call it.

The EU must, therefore, treat the NI border as its own frontier and police it accordingly and our proximity and former member status has no bearing on how it must police its frontier. It would be like the UK was a new country having dropped out of the sky.

We would, therefore, have no formal recognition of qualifications which allow officials and inspectors to operate. Similarly with drivers, clinicians and pilots. Not ability to authorise goods for circulation in the market and no flight permissions.

So it wouldn't matter if tariffs kicked in or not. We would have considerably bigger problems. And that is the problem with Rees-Mogg. He simply isn't capable of acknowledging that anything beyond tariffs exists.

Even if we could in the immediate aftermath secure an agreement on tariffs, if exporters face customs obstacles and all the overheads therein, the overheads would be substantially more than whatever a tariff would have cost.

But the point lost on JRM and the media and politics as a whole is that it's not just a no deal Brexit that causes this chaos. Even with a withdrawal agreement, if we leave the EEA then we still become a third country with only limited formal relations.

The easy bit will be securing a deal on tariffs, but on regulatory cooperation we cannot have anything comprehensive like EEA. The EU makes agreements on mutual recognition of conformity assessment NOT on standards. There is no mutual equivalence on product standards. In the absence of a harmonised standard, third countries have to obey the laws applying in the country of arrival and/or destination (or both). Overnight we find business having to find named importers and having to re-certify.

So if we do manage to secure a withdrawal agreement and negotiate an FTA we are STILL facing multiple cliff edges. Predominantly this will affect food, aerospace, fisheries, automotive and anything else heavily dependent on single market certification.

The only way to avoid a jobs catastrophe is to remain in the EEA. Trade deals with the rest of the world will not compensate for the loss. Commonwealth countries tend to have small populations and low incomes with no high tech industry to supply.

Even if we did, by some miracle, secure a comprehensive deal with the US (highly unlikely) it will not compensate even with services provisions. Rees-Mogg's idea of tinkering with tariffs on shoes and imported lamb can't replace the high skill jobs that will bleed away.

It seems I end up writing a variant of this post at least twice a week, but I will go on saying it for as long as it takes to sink in. There are no trade advantages whatsoever to leaving the single market. Not even in services.

Were we to retain the EEA then we would still be at liberty to enter our own FTAs as Norway does, without losing vital EU trade, and though there may be some restraints on how we can diverge and deregulate there is little economic utility in doing so.

Moreover, the EU will have a regulatory gravity that will mean in any scenario our laws are likely to be influenced by the EU and corporates will prefer to work to the EU standard simply to maintain compatibility with their EU based operations.

Re-equipping and training for new regulatory regimes is expensive and time consuming, but unlike last time the net result would be less market participation, and a great deal of confusion and uncertainty.

I have no problems with leaving the political union of the EU and will be very glad when it is done. There is not, however, a convincing argument for turning our backs on our nearest markets. Jacob Rees-Mogg is a conman and a delusional one at that.

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 to 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. This 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.