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The changing balance of power

by Frank Schnittger Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 02:10:18 PM EST

Brexit talks to be suspended if Britain goes back on its word

Brexit discussions will be suspended if British commitments in phase one talks are reneged on, EU ministers have warned.

Ministers yesterday worked, as one senior EU official put it, to "David Davis-proof" the so-called divorce commitments agreed by the UK last Friday.

In a sharp diplomatic putdown to the UK, they backed proposals which will prevent what Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and others called "backsliding" by the UK.

This was a response to weekend suggestions from Mr Davis, Britain's Brexit secretary, later repudiated, that the deal was not legally binding but aspirational.

There's a determination that what has been agreed in phase one would be properly protected and seen through and there would be no backsliding

Guidelines for the next round of talks on transition arrangements for the UK will contain explicit warnings that phase two talks will be suspended if commitments in phase one are reneged on or not "faithfully" enacted in legislation.

Never has there been a clearer indication of how the balance of power has changed in these negotiations. Ireland has plenty of historical experience of being the weaker, supplicant, party in a negotiation, and the many humiliations one has to endure in that role.

The UK may have experienced similar emotions in dealing with the USA post WWII, put if so, is still in deep denial. Having to deal with individual EU27 nations on equal terms, as part of the EU, may have been part of the motivation for Brexit. Brexiteers fondly imagined that the UK could deal with the EU27, taken as a whole, from a position of strength as it retook its place among the major independent powers in the world.

But now the boot is on the other foot. The UK has had to accept first, the EU timetable for these negotiations, then the sequencing, then the agenda for Phase I and phase 2 negotiations, and finally the EU proposals for Phase I issues. Now the EU is making plain, in no uncertain terms, that there will be no back sliding on what has been agreed to date, and that the EU will set the timetable for future talks.

For Irish politicians one of the key attractions of EU membership was being able to deal with the UK and other EU members on a quasi-equal footing for the first time. But acting from a position of strength since A50 was triggered is an entirely new experience for Irish politicians and risks going to their head. Some of the exuberance expressed after the deal was initially agreed on December 4th. may have alarmed the DUP and triggered their veto of that deal. Quite why the DUP subsequently agreed to more or less the same deal is unclear, but demonstrates their acquiescence to the weakness of May's position.

In the past Irish politicians might have taken Davis' comments to the effect that the deal was merely aspirational and not really legally binding on the chin with a rueful shrug that he needed to appease the Brexiteers and that there wasn't much that could be done about it. UK Ministers could have let off steam for the benefit of their backbenchers and the Irish government would have sat tight in the hope that all would turn out ok in the end. But not now. Both Varadker and Coveney have been quick to call Davis out on his mealy mouthed weasel words and now the EU27 have formally backed them in their concerns.

The reaction in the UK and from the DUP has been one of shock and disbelief that any Irish government would act in such an "arrogant" fashion. Insults at Varadker personally and at his government more generally have flown freely. He is said to be immature, naive, and without the obsequiously emollient manner of his predecessor, Enda Kenny. Weirdly inaccurate comments have been made about his political circumstances, that he is beholden to Sinn Fein, or in the middle of fighting a Presidential election. (The role of the President in Ireland is purely ceremonial and the election in November of next year is unlikely to be centred around Brexit).

In Ireland the reaction has been much more positive. Having been running more or less neck and neck for the past year Fine Gael have moved 11 points ahead of Fianna Fail in a recent poll. Approval of the government is up 5 points to 41%, and Varadker's personal rating is up 4 points to 53%, the highest for any Taoiseach for some years. Having narrowly avoided a pre-Christmas general election due to a domestic crisis a couple of weeks ago, this virtually removes the prospect of a general election any time soon. Fianna Fail, who are sustaining the minority Fine Gael government in power, cannot afford to lose another election to them without risking being overtaken by Sinn Fein as leaders of the opposition.

One of the rules of good negotiation practice is never to humiliate your opponents. Always give them some ground so they can claim the outcome as a victory or at least as a reasonable compromise. In a negotiation of near equals, humiliating your opponents will lead to a breakdown in talks and sours the pitch for any future discussions. Ultimately it is in the interest of both parties to reach an acceptable deal or else why hold the talks in the first place?

However one of the reasons for my pessimism about the A50 process is that key political actors may decide that a no deal Brexit is in their interest despite the obvious economic costs.

On the UK side any deal is likely to be much inferior, in economic terms, to the full membership the UK currently enjoys. To justify Brexit, Brexiteers have to construct a narrative about the wonderful economic and social benefits 'taking back control' over regulation, immigration, and the ability to negotiate their own trade deals will have for the UK. The fact that these benefits might prove to be largely mythological is a problem for future governments, not this one. But none of these new found freedoms are compatible with a close relationship to the Single market/Customs union, and so a breakdown in the talks is almost inevitable.

On the EU side the need to maintain the political cohesion and stability of the EU27 is paramount. How can that be maintained if members can pick and choose between what benefits they want and don't want by threatening to leave? For Brexit to become a success spells disaster for the EU. The EU has to be able to demonstrate to each and every one of its members that they are far more powerful within the Union than if they they choose to go it alone. The success of the Irish in achieving their initial objectives with EU support is an instructive case in point.

A no deal Brexit will ultimately be damaging for both sides, but for the EU the prospect that the UK might do relatively better than the EU, is an existential threat. So these negotiations are a war fought by other means. Phase 1 might have been a bruising experience for the UK, but it is nothing compared to what awaits them when all 27 competing EU27 national interests are bought to bear. Theresa May may have difficulties in keeping her Brexiteer parliamentarians in line, but that is nothing compared to the difficulties the EU will experience if it fails to satisfy the vital national interests of a member state.

The loss of the UK is now all but inevitable, but losing another member state because they are unhappy with concessions made on their behalf by the EU would be devastating. The openly held belief of many Brexiteers that the "success of Brexit" will soon lead to Ireland wanting to join the UK outside the EU is also their greatest weakness. May's expressed wish that she wants a deep and special relationship with the EU post Brexit is doomed to failure. If that is what she truly wanted, then why is she implementing Brexit, because that is what the UK is intent on sundering.

For the EU it is essential that the UK becomes the weaker and supplicant partner in any new relationship, if only pour encourager les autres. Just as the unfortunate Admiral Byng discovered when he was executed for failing to relieve the British Garrison when faced with a much superior French force at the battle of Minorca, perhaps May can do no other than lead the UK to a glorious defeat. It will take many generations to rebuild what one generation has sought to tear down. Battles fought to gain the balance of power are typically brutal and leave no room for sentiment.

Thanks for this analysis and for the Irish point of view, Frank. However, I beg to disagree: I don't think not obtaining what they want in the Brexit negotiation would be enough for a country to leave the EU. Do you think of a country in particular?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 04:41:23 PM EST
Besides the UK?  I wasn't thinking of the negotiations in particular, but of the various nationalist movements around Europe gaining traction if the eu is seen not to be delivering tangible benefits

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 06:37:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that's an illuminating perspective.

However, I think the EU went into the process believing it would be dealing with business like people who had a good grasp of what they wanted from the process and what the final deal would look like, so that the first pahse would be about isolating those areas of major and minor disagreements so that they could be examined in more detail and a critical path for negotiations established.

What they discovered was chaos. At which point I think they realised that they would proabably have to save the UK from its own governmental incompetence. Much as they wouldn't like to see a suddenly succesful UK float off into a prosperous new era, they realise that having it roll over and sink with all hands after a bruising neogtiation might look a bit ungracious.

tbh, there was never any chance of the UK ever achieving the idea of becoming a prosperous trading nation with the free market fanatics in charge. All they were interested in was becoming an offshore tax haven, cos bankster capitalism is all they understand. The chances of the people of the Irish Republic wanting to leave the EU for Anglospheric Impoverishment are precisely zero.

The only control the 1% were interested in was their ability to plunder the UK Treasury with complete impunity.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 06:53:14 PM EST
The chances of the people of the Irish Republic wanting to leave the EU for Anglospheric Impoverishment are precisely zero.

Opinion polls have consistently shown large majorities in favour of EU membership, and the chaotic nature of Brexit to date has only reinforced that view. Nationalists might also see Brexit as an opportunity to prise N. Ireland away from the UK, provide Brexit is a failure.

And therein lies the rub.  Suppose Brexit IS a success, at least in some limited ways. Sinn Fein opposed Ireland joining the EU, and some Nationalists, like my old college lecturer Anthony Coughlan, then Chair of the Irish Sovereignty movement, have consistently opposed membership.

More recently, David McWilliams, an influential economist, journalist and author, has consistently argued that Ireland is more naturally aligned with the UK and US, both in values and by ties of kinship, language, and culture and can more accurately be described as an Atlantic, rather than a European nation.

The way in which the EU responded to the Irish banking crisis by insisting that Irish taxpayers should bail out German banks etc., the humiliation of the Troika and the resultant austerity, and now with Brexit, the likely movement of the centre of gravity of the EU in a distinctly eastward direction have all given some credibility to these claims.

I do not see Ireland becoming a Eurosceptic nation any time soon, but I do see such voices gaining in influence especially if N. Ireland, outside the EU, remains problematic, and if the EU moves on to being much more concerned with eastern and southern European concerns. Being almost the only English speaking country in the EU can be a strength, but can also be a weakness. We haven't won the Eurovision since the Eastern European countries joined up and started voting as a block!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 08:00:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Scenario where Brexit is a success?

Ok, that is a challenge given the current cabinet. But sure.

March 2019 UK stumbles out of EU in the hardest of hard Brexits. Cut of from global production lines and air travel and with prices on imported food soaring, the conservatives and DUP hang together even as people on Twitter are calling for them to just plain hang.

Autumn 2019 UK harvests are rotting without cheap East European labour to get them in. May proposes tax cuts for large landowners and dole cuts for the unemployed. Tories brings back fox hunting.

The hunger winter of 2019. Boris finally tries to overthrow May and in the confusion and incompetence the government loses a vote of no confidence.

Spring 2020. A desperate public gives Corbyn's Labour an overwhelming majority with a large number of new Corbynite MP's. Wasting no time, the government fulfill its promise to "seize the commanding heights of society". The tax hike on large estates is likened to confiscation in the Murdoch papers. The confiscation of the Murdoch papers quickly follows.

Autumn 2020. The policy of "40 acres and a robo-mule" turns out a success, giving the population food and work and giving the government support when it goes on to rebuild British industry through worker's councils.

Spring 2025. Having survived a coup attempt and foiled a US attempt at starting a civil war through smuggled in terrorists, Corbyn is re-elected with the Liberal Democrats as the largest opposition party. UK is running on full employment, makes most of what it consumes and trades it's surpluses. The old elite has fled in fear of more confiscations, leaving a society with lower average wealth but higher median wealth. Leftist movements in the EU tries to manoeuvre their right wing to lead an similar Exit and self destruct.

by fjallstrom on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 11:55:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure Stalin's various agricultural 5 year plans where that great a success, and not sure Corbyn would be allowed to implement such a policy regardless of his majority. There are very few trained farmers in the UK and even less indigenous farm labourers. The notion that farming is unskilled and can be done by anyone is a city delusion. Robotisation is possible to some degree, but very capital intensive and v. few farmers (and no small farmers) have the necessary capital. Your "robo-mule" sounds about as realistic as May's invisible border.

I don't think the Tories, and possibly Corbyn, are all that interested in food production anyway.  The Brexiteers BIG idea is to import cheap food from third world countries and free themselves from the costs and constraints of the CAP. The idea is that the UK moves up the food chain and concentrates on "high value" financial, legal, marketing, and high tech design and innovation services.

De-regulation and lower capital taxes will aim to attract FDI and advanced companies to locate their R&D in the UK. Zero hours contracts will become the norm and reduced employee benefits and environmental controls will reduce costs. The NHS will be privatised and turned into an insurance scheme where you pay for what you get. Roughly where Trump is leading the USA...

In the short term it is possible to grow the economy with that model (a la USA) but with huge social and environmental costs. I don't know if the Brits will tolerate rising inequality to the same degree as the USA. In the meantime the USA will probably have turned socialist anyway...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 12:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was more going for the 19th century land reforms in Europe and the failed expropriation of the lands of slave owners in the former Confederacy (hence the 40 acres and a mule), than Stalin. Often the family owned farm has been the optimal land unit in terms of output per acre, though the size of what one family can farm has increased a lot.

I wrote half a paragraph on specifics that included re-training, but realised it disturbed the historical highlights flow and that I don't know enough of specifics in the UK to make it justice.

If Sweden needed to quickly increase its number of active farmers, step one would be to call up the former farmers as the number of active farmers has decreased by 90% since the entrance into the EU. If they are to old, or not numerous enough, step two would be to hire them to train a new generation, which could be recruited among would be farmers who grows some of their own food today.

But as I said, I don't know the specifics of the situation today in the UK, so I left it to the reader to fill in the specifics. Same with the workers councils running the industry or the expropriation of the Murdoch media.

The more general, serious version would be: If May  and the Tories gets the blame for the negative consequences of Brexit, and Corbyn turns it around with methods he could not use in the EU, then an exit may start to look tempting. In particular if the EU continues own the austerity track.

by fjallstrom on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 01:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Briefing Paper House of Commons - Brexit: Agriculture and Trade

The UK exported around £20 billion of food, feed and drink in 2016. Scotch whisky was the largest single export at £4.1 billion. The UK imported £43 billion meaning that the UK has a trade deficit in these products. There is a deficit with both the EU and with non-EU countries (taken as a whole).  

The EU is an important trading partner in these products, accounting for 60% of exports and 70% of imports. The Irish Republic is the UK's largest export market: UK exports of food, feed and drink to Ireland were £3.3 billion in 2016. Seven of the UK's top 10 export markets are EU member states. On the imports side, the UK imported more from the Netherlands than any other country in 2016. The top nine countries from which the UK imported food, feed and drink in 2016 were EU members.

Trade between EU member states is tariff free. Imports from outside the EU are subject to tariffs which are high in some cases. The EU also has a regime of "tariff rate quotas" (TRQs) which allow a certain volume of particular products to be imported into the EU at a reduced tariff rate.

The Government's intention is to secure a free trade agreement with the EU to allow free and frictionless trade between the UK and EU. If there is no agreement, then tariffs would be imposed on UK exports to the EU and vice versa. As tariffs are often high in agriculture and the EU accounts for a large share of UK exports, this could have a significant effect on UK agriculture. The UK and EU will also have to find a way of splitting the TRQs between them.

Brexit costs for the Netherlands Arise from Reduced Trade
Netherlands is world number two in agricultural exports topping €80 bn

Just as an aside, my grandfather opened the export market for Dutch greenhouse products to the UK just about 100 years ago ... it kinda flourished ever since. Never thought how Brexit would impact the agricultural business.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 02:16:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Oui no doubt knows, flower lorries from the Netherlands drop off deliveries at individual shops in the UK, something that would become slower and more difficult (if not completely impractical) after a hard Brexit.
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Dec 15th, 2017 at 02:55:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I should have used Three acres and a robotic cow instead, for that UK flavour.
by fjallstrom on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 01:50:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forty acres and a mule refers to a promise made in the United States for agrarian reform for former enslaved black farmers by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on January 16, 1865.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 08:47:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A 'robo mule' is a description of a tractor - large or small. Some have already been automated in the USA and operate with precision guided by GPS and a route programed by the farmer. A and the land issue could be resolved with a large enough majority and strong public support. Government support in the form of urban/suburban small agriculture education and training programs in conjunction with reasonably priced access to a few hectares of land and sufficient capital to build and equip greenhouses, etc. - best done with specially chartered public banks lending, in the current environment, at less than 2% to finance such projects.

Such a program could provide poultry fish and most vegetables, exclusive or grain. The UK could certainly grow more grain, but could not likely be self sufficient. And it WOULD produce a quite significant number of jobs and small businesses. On a larger scale dairy and  most meat could likely be produced domestically -  certainly enough to prevent starvation. The better part of the countryside does not HAVE to be a park - a lot of Tories just think it does.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 04:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tractors do a lot more than going from A to B and generally require quite a lot of human intervention and skill. Very few tasks on a farm are exactly the same, day to day. Everything you describe is doable but I suspect would take a long time to scale up to being but a very marginal contribution to general welfare & GDP.  There is always the Irish border they can smuggle food through...

I don't see even a worst case Brexit being quite so apocalyptic that basic food supplies would be in doubt - absent other factors. The UK could have quite a severe depression post a hard Brexit, and many years on anaemic growth - not so different from Pre-EU UK except that its stock in the world in geo-political, trade and economic terms have taken quite a step backward since. The world has also changed dramatically since, with a totally different dynamic vis a vis, China, India and the former colonies.

In fact I would go so far as to say that the only reason Europe has remained remotely competitive vis a vis the rest of the world is the existence of the EU. But try telling that to Brexiteers.  They hanker nostalgically to another Thatcher to lead them to victory over the Argies and sundry foreigners (and of course the socialists at home...)

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 10:00:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Expect the N.Sea fisheries to be rapidly depleted when fishermen don't have to follow those pesky EU rules any more.
Taking back control indeed...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Dec 15th, 2017 at 05:44:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the balance of power is shifting? You thinnk? Even the Express, sorry I'll empahsize that, EVEN THE EXPRESS, hs noticed

HuffPo - Daily Express' Reveals Brexit 'SHOCK' Warning That Shocks Absolutely No One

The Daily Express ran a "crusade" to get us out of the European Union, hit out at "arrogant Remainers" and demanded Britain "sever ties with Brussels NOW".

But the tabloid has suddenly done a volte-face, tweeting a "SHOCK" warning that Brexit might actually be bad.

Many were shocked when it appeared to have had something of an epiphany.......

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:05:09 PM EST
New Statesman - SHOCK as Daily Express discovers Brexit is bad

Dead tree of bigotry the Daily Express has published the journalism equivalent of when a retro cartoon character runs off a cliff through the air - and then plummets when it looks down. The newspaper is at the looking down stage.

Yes, the mouthpiece of Brexiteers, Ukippers and anachronistic portrayals of St George, has discovered that Brexit might not be such a good idea.

"Brexit SHOCK warning: Britain will be WORSE OFF out of the EU under ALL Brexit scenarios," it tweeted yesterday afternoon, linking to an article reporting with a note of terror the words of an expert saying all Brexit scenarios would hurt Britain.

and no, I won't be linking to the Express, but I'm perfectly happy to link people laughing at them

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:08:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happens when/if the Mail does a volte face.  Do the Tories get cold feet?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:17:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's unlikely, Dacre is as unpleasant a brexiteer as you could imagine, think of a sour faced foul mouthed Farage.

But, if it happened, brexit would be cancelled immediately. Although the Murdoch papers will always be brexit, their readers are considered to be useful idiots rather than real allies. So appeasing them is of little concern. Mail readers, however, ARE the Tory party

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit defeat for Theresa May as MPs back curbing government powers - Politics live

The government has been defeated by 309 votes to 305 - a majority of 4.

BREAKING: Theresa May defeated in critical vote on key EU withdrawal law

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:50:26 PM EST
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there was a short snatch on the BBC News showing leaver fanatic Patrick Jenkin (C-Idiocy) being surrounded by remainer conservatives having a private argument in the House of Commons in the middle of the debate.

This is the chaos we have fallen into

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 07:57:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Civility has been in steep decline Maggotty Blather first occupied No. 10.  This is the vile harvest of her vile sowing.
by rifek on Fri Dec 15th, 2017 at 01:58:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tory rebels inflict embarrassing Brexit defeat on Theresa May
The vote is an embarrassment for Ms May as she prepares to meet other EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, where they are expected to conclude that there has been sufficient progress in Brexit talks to move on to the second phase of negotiations.

  The amendment, proposed by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, prevents the government from implementing any withdrawal deal with the EU without the backing of MPs through a new Act of parliament. Mr Grieve said he had hoped to avoid having to vote against the government by persuading ministers to accept the changes he proposed.

  "Brexit is full of risk and full of complexity - legal and otherwise - and the government are entitled to my support, wherever possible, to carry Brexit out as smoothly as they can and with the least impact on the wellbeing of the citizens of our country. That has been my aim throughout," he said.

  Mr Grieve said that, as Wednesday's debate approached, all rational argument began to evaporate as he and other faced accusations of betrayal from Eurosceptics who had voted against their party dozens of times.

   "The purpose of the amendment, the nature of it, is entirely lost in a confrontation in which it is suggested that the underlying purpose is the sabotage of the will of the people, which it most manifestly is not. That is then followed by a hurling of public abuse; large numbers of people telling one that one is a traitor; and, I regret to say, some of one's hon. and right hon. Friends saying slightly startling things," he said.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 08:39:38 PM EST
It has been a disheartening year in both the USA and the UK - mostly due to spectacular leadership problems. But Tuesday night brought a flash of midnight sunlight into the US scene with the election of former civil rights prosecutor and Democrat Doug Jones to the US Senate. But one robin does make a spring.

Losing an important vote by four votes may not doom May's government, but surely she has to see it as a grave warning. With this newly revealed weakness for her government others may become emboldened. The coming apart of May's government would be the best Christmas present I could think of for the UK - even if many see it very differently. At least there is a smidgen of hope possible now on that front.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 06:29:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
City of Culture farce pretty much sums up Brexit
Luckily, in the new spirit of detente with our grumpy, chaotic neighbours, this column brings good news. The UK is not actually signed up to that particular Unesco convention so was never eligible for consideration. Phew. So no need to add a mass outbreak of Unesco-hating to the EU-bashing that ensued when British contenders discovered they were no longer eligible for the 2023 European Capital of Culture award because, um, by 2023 they would neither be in the EU or EEA or seeking to join the EU (as if...).

That EU was getting REALLY mean and spiteful now, went the consensus. The Times called it an "EU snub". In parliament, Theresa May's surrogate said that it wasn't surprising "really" that EU institutions would not continue to be in a non-EU state. But... But... It was "extremely disappointing that after [the commission] let British cities ask to apply to be part of the process, they'd decided that they couldn't".

The government was now in "urgent talks" with the commission, he said, "because cultural development has been shown to be an extremely good basis for the regeneration of cities and towns across the United Kingdom".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 09:04:52 PM EST
This is so f-----g weird.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 11:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It ranks up there with Davis claiming that the relocation (or otherwise) of EU institutions like the European Medicines Agency would be a matter for negotiation as part of the Brexit negotiations...

The nasty, mean and unaccountable EU went ahead and relocated them anyway (to Amsterdam and other EU cities) without so much as a by your leave from Davis' Brexit department.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 12:08:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who could have forecast the EU would keep EU institutions inside the EU?

Totally unexpected.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 12:58:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by oldremainmer48 on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 07:47:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect David Davis will be surprised and disappointed when the EU tell him that their financial transactions must be conducted in-house and so the City will no longer qualify.

So far estimates are of 10,500 jobs moving abroadbefore 2019. I think we'll be lucky if fewer than 105,000 jobs are lost. But I suspect that, if you add in all the non financial services that will be impacted, that's going to be a very damaging hit on the economy.

But hey, if we make the UK into a distopian nightmare of poverty and hopelessness, we'll solve the immigration "problem" cos nobody in their right mind will come here

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 08:15:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Au contrare!  (I'm trying to get Jerome to come back with my Frenchy talk.)  Maybe that's the Tory plan:  Make the UK a total shithole, everybody either dies or moves away, and they buy the entire place on the cheap.  Brilliant!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 09:29:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's certainly the Rethuglican plan here in the States.
by rifek on Fri Dec 15th, 2017 at 02:03:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They say that war is God's way of teaching Americans geography. Perhaps Brexit is God's way of teaching us Brits the value of European co-operation.
by Gag Halfrunt on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 11:32:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My impression is that after the October deadline was missed, the UK government understood it could not withstand phase I negotiations dragging into 2019. I believe they know very well they have no time to renegotiate the 750+ international treaties the UK will be leaving as it leaves the EU (and that third parties will demand different conditions, such as freedom of movement).

In 2019 I do not expect much to emerge regarding the much sought UK-EU FTA; the UK will insist in something broader than what Canada got and the EU will remain unmoved. As time presses efforts will focus on a transitional arrangement, that should be submitted for approval at the beginning of next Autmun.

From the antics in the Commons last week, one can conclude an extreme scenario, such as a "no deal", is now unlikely to succeed. Rebel Tory MPs outnumber the DUP and henceforth limit the maneuvering space of the Euro-phobics. This also means May is likely to remain in office through the whole process - something unimaginable just two weeks ago. This was indeed a victory for her, at the cost of breaking many of the red lines herself draw at the Lancaster House.

In essence, it seems the whole thing has been adjourned - on most accounts, the UK will in practice leave the EU by 2021 the earliest. However, the meagre prospect of a Canada-like agreement will likely make for further adjournments - eventually even keeping the UK within the EEA sine dia.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sat Dec 16th, 2017 at 03:14:12 PM EST

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