Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

A Special Place in Hell

by Frank Schnittger Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 01:50:19 PM EST

I have been engaged in other projects recently and have not kept quite up to speed with the latest Brexit happenings and so perhaps you guys can help me out: Has anything of any real significance happened recently?  The main points I have gleaned for a cursory perusal of news sites are that:

1. The EU has lost patience with UK

Donald Tusk wasn't having a senior moment. His wondering "what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely" wasn't a temperamental outburst. It signaled the EU had reached the end of the road in its attempts to accommodate UK demands.

2. Theresa May is running down the clock

Having been rebuffed by the House of Commons, the EU, the Irish government, the DUP and her own hard liners, Theresa May has decided the only way forward is to run down the clock and see if the imminence of a hard no deal Brexit will concentrate minds and force acceptance of her deal as the only alternative available.

3. Jeremy Corbyn has decided to get in on the game

Smarting from poor opinion poll ratings and unease among his own supporters, Corbyn has decided to engage with Theresa May so that he can say "well at least we tried" if the whole thing ends up being an almighty clusterfuck. For Theresa May talks with Labour can help run down the clock and light a fire under hard core Brexiteers and the DUP that she might, just, go down another road entirely if they don't come on board with her deal.

4. But what, precisely, is the substantive difference between Corbyn and May?

May has signaled a willingness to address Labour demands for increased worker and environmental protections, and for help for deprived ares. The one area of difference is Labour's demand for ongoing membership of "A" customs Union with the EU. Labour seems to think that the EU will agree to providing the benefits of a customs union while acceding to the UK "having a say" in future trade deals. But how is this different from the status quo? I am not aware of the UK having objected to any trade deals in the past, and all EU trade deals beyond the EU's current negotiating mandate require unanimous agreement of its members...

More to the point, the whole row over "the Backstop" is about the possibility of the UK "being trapped" in a customs union indefinitely, when this is precisely what Labour seems to want. If May could agree with Corbyn on this and present a jointly agreed proposal on these lines to the EU, the EU might have little cause to object - especially when Corbyn's support would guarantee a Commons majority for the resultant agreement.

Corbyn - always seen as a genuine if closet Brexiteer - would achieve his objective of a softer Brexit, protect some jobs in the short term, and be seen as the saviour of the UK for preventing a no deal Brexit. May will have delivered on her "mandate". The EU will have achieved "frictionless" trade with the UK, a solution to the vexed Irish border question, and still managed to carve off a huge slice of London's financial services industry for its ongoing members.

The 48% who voted against Brexit may be less than happy at such an outcome, but no one seems to regard them as a threat to the future stability of the UK - unlike hard core Brexiteers who might precipitate civil unrest if they don't get their way. I wonder...

They say turkeys don't vote for Christmas, but it seems the UK will have voted for the Turkey option even as Brexiteers hyped the risk of Turkey joining the EU in their anti-EU propaganda...

Am I missing something here?

Frank: The EU has lost patience with UK

Politico.eu is echoing your sentiments:

EU patience with Theresa May wears thin

It may not be the perception in London, but EU leaders feel they've bent over backward to help the U.K. prime minister deliver an orderly Brexit.

They won't be doing that anymore.

Theresa May's failure to get the Brexit deal through parliament -- and her continued failure to build a national consensus around a plan for the U.K.'s future -- has led her EU colleagues to conclude they can no longer rely on her.

And one of the main reasons:

They have grown increasingly exasperated at May's refusal to reach across party lines, and build the consensus needed not just to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement but also to negotiate the future trade relationship -- something that will likely prove even harder and more controversial.

"Many times we have asked her to reach out to the opposition but every time she put her party first and her country second," said another EU27 diplomat.

As a side note, a reason I'm often quoting Politico.eu is that it's one of the few places where you can find English language articles about Europe written by non-Brits (in that case, a Brussels based American and an Italian). Even though I'm not too fond of their editorial line.

by Bernard on Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 06:52:11 PM EST
There's 43 days left for the Brits to stop smoking opium and Get Real and there's no sign of it.

May's "strategy" (sic) seems to be to do nothing* and pass the Withdrawal Agreement at the last possible second with the help of Labour votes setting up to push the opprobrium of a Failed Brexit© and the economic damages of Brexit on Labour.  

If May had any sense she'd resign and let someone else go into the history books as the daft bugger who implemented Brexit.

*  which she doesn't actually do all that well, sad to say

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

by ATinNM on Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 08:52:50 PM EST
Is there any evidence whatsoever that there are 80+ Labour MPs ready to vote for her deal to make up for the 80+ DUP and ERG MP's who are likely to prefer no deal to her deal? If there is, I must have missed it.

If May still wants her deal, or something like it to pass, she has no choice but to do a deal with Corbyn. He is likely to be more sympathetic to making Brexit happen than any other putative Labour leader.

In the meantime the EU are looking on impatiently to see if there is anything that has any possibility of making her deal palatable to the House of Commons, and so far they have come up with nothing.

Meanwhile the ERG seem to believe that the EU (or its member states) will be falling over themselves to do deals with the UK once a No deal Brexit actually happens.

But why would they - until the €45 Billion as been paid, the rights of EU citizens in the UK have been guaranteed, and the Irish border issue has been resolved? Yes some sectoral deals may be possible, but only where they are clearly in the interests of the EU.

Any PM with any self-respect would have resigned by now. She is clearly being used as a pawn by others in the ERG, and has lost the respect of the EU. Why be the fall girl for everyone else?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 03:38:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not think there are enough Labour votes to pass the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement.  

May won't resign.  Once a politician reaches the pinnacle of power they cling to it and have to be removed by the force of law or force of the other kind.

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

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trade deals are done by the EU Commission, not individual member States. Brussels has a negotiating team ready to receive their UK guests .... May's ERG Team? 😒
by Oui on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How does the EU Commission instruct their negotiating team and the negotiating team negotiate when their respective opposite numbers are going, "ARRRRRRRRggggggggggghhhhhity-bargle-foof-dee do!"  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:37:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're forgetting the bit of Brexiteer mythology where the EU explodes into its constituent parts because they simply can't manage without the Brits holding the show together for them. The ERG will then simply march in and negotiate on a one to one basis with former memebres and bring the Irish etc. to heel...

`Top-hatted Rees-Mogg and Bullingdon Club Johnson, calling Ireland to heel'

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:51:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want this to come across as some kind of defense of May -- as y'all know, I can't stand her -- but looking at it from afar it seems like there's really no deal to be had here that can pass with the EU and Parliament.  The makeup of Parliament makes it unworkable.

Neither she nor Corbyn can square the circle here.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 11:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Her AND Corbyn together could, but they won't work together.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 11:35:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you were Corbyn would you work with her?  I'd be saying, "Sorry skipper, you're the one who hit this iceberg, I'm finding a lifeboat."
by rifek on Wed Mar 6th, 2019 at 05:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May wants a leave document that is supported by the conservative party, one that holds its internal coalition together. That is the circle which cannot be squared.

Because she cannot create a majority in the Commons with any deal which meets her own red lines and that of the ERG. Let alone that of the DUP. In this process the other opposition parties are helpless by-standers.

It's not that May and Corbyn can't work together, but May knows that any deal she could get with Corbyn would involve compromises the ERG could never accept. If brexit were to be done on such terms, the Tory party would split. Which is May's deepest red line. Brexit was conceived to stop the Tory party splitting and May will do nothing to hurt her tribe. Regardless of the damage to the country.

So, she is left with holding Parliament to ransom : Agree my deal or have no deal.

Although, it's worse than that,

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 19th, 2019 at 09:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And for some reason the EU doesn't share her highest red line that the Tory Party must be held together - even if it were possible to conceive of a document which could do this. From an EU perspective, why would you put your head in that bunfight, when the only possible outcome is mutually assured destruction?

But perhaps Theresa May is playing a long game. She knows the Tory/Labour duopoly cannot survive this disaster and is determined that it won't be the Tories that will bite the dust. If she can hold her coalition together longer than Corbyn can his, she might even win.

What happens to the UK in the interim is almost irrelevant.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 19th, 2019 at 05:31:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just before the US Civil War, both sides of the duopoly split.  The split was an ideological one that happened to be sectional as well and so set the table for the war.  150 years later, we're still sorting it out.  And then in 1968 it nearly happened again.  The Republicans temporarily stepped back from the abyss.  Aghast by the 1964 Goldwater campaign that was little more than a front for John Birch Society hate-blather, cooler heads took control back and buried Reagan that time.  The Democrats, though, split, with George Wallace taking the Dixiecrat segregationists off, leaving the northern urban base in the party, which was not enough to beat Nixon.  By 1972 Wallace was no longer a factor, Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy had turned the Dixiecrats into Republicans, and Nixon thrashed the "wimpy pinko" McGovern.  Insert Watergate, let simmer, and we have the Bicentennial Election of 1976.  On the Republican side, Ford was the incumbent president so he got the nomination, but it was apparent that Reagan and the zombie armies of the Right were the future.  On the Democratic side, the powers went, "See, we went too far to the left, that's why we lost in '68 and '72," and dumped Kennedy for Carter.  Carter won, but neither he nor the party was ready for prime time and did not have the skills to govern effectively (rather the same position Labour would be in if Corbyn suddenly found himself at No. 10).  Results: Reagan takes it in 1980; the Republican Party starts goose-stepping down the Right Road until it now is little more than Fascism Lite; and the Democrats, now even more afraid of anything that can even remotely be considered progressive, is taken over by the DLC and transforms into a club of corporate whores whose only interest is enabling the fever dreams of every neolib and neocon.  Clinton and Gore ram through NAFTA and similar trade deals, killing blue collar jobs in the US once and for all; Gingrich sucks up scads of disaffected "deplorables" in 1994, feeds them a steady diet on anti-international/anti-immigrant rhetoric, and uses them to destroy the last traces of Republican support for any foreign policy other than military intervention; and voila, here we are.

The UK duopoly is on the verge of fracturing; neither May nor Corbyn has the tools to stop it.  If (when) it happens, it will be profoundly destabilizing (worse than the US because the UK is far more dependent on parties to make the system work); it will take years to sort out, and perhaps not in our lifetimes; and there will be a significant, dangerous shift to the right.

by rifek on Wed Mar 6th, 2019 at 06:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have seen speculation that the EU may be preparing some last minute compromise to help May get her deal across the line but are reluctant to unveil anything until the last minute in case the Brexiteers pocket it and come back looking for more.

But what could that be? Perhaps a gesture towards Corbyn's ideas giving the UK "a consultative role" on future trade deals?

Perhaps an agreement the Backstop can lapse provided a majority in a N. Ireland referendum voted against continued membership of the Customs Union and Single Market?

Either way, Newton Emerson seems to think the DUP is preparing for a climb down. That will be a first!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 09:58:52 PM EST
I'll have none of it!

A joyful big band playing for a group of elites unaware the maiden voyage will encounter the iceberg on March 29th ... everyone can envision how the sinking of an ocean liner unfolds in phases ... a dream world slides slowly into frosted waters.

Belfast - Titanic - April 10, 1912

My dad born in 1905 spoke often about the drama ... so it will be with future generations.  :(

by Oui on Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 10:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we underestimated the stupidity of the UK Ruling Class in general and the Tory Party in specific.  

(Now there's a sentence I never expected to type!)

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

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:27:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think some of them are going to make a serious amount of money if we crash out. Even the richest of them are looking to add a nought to their fortunes.

The rest are useful idiots

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 06:10:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid the Commons will still reject any compromise the EU offers, even at the last minute.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2019 at 08:50:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you're right, there has been no substantive changes whatsoever. Nothing in fact since May first brought her "deal" back from Brussels in December.

tbh I've stopped paying attention cos there's so much friction, so much debate but nothing seems to change. Theresa May has decided it will be her deal or no deal and the ERG and, indeed, the whole of the Tory party seem perfectly content with that. We know that even the Tory Remainers will happily have no deal than any deal supported by Corbyn, their votes and public statements demonstrate this without any doubt at all.

God alone knows. Right now the public mood seems to be that of passengers in an aircraft who've been told we're gonna crash but that we might just ditch in the sea and only some of us might die. So, we're looking around for stuff that might improve our chances.

But really we're all clutching our seats and waiting for the dread words, "Brace !!, Brace!!".

It's terrifying. The economy has died but Westminster is paralysed. If you want to know how the earth would react if the killer meteorite is announced, just come visit the UK. We're wandering around trying to carry on but afraid t look up cos we have absolutely no idea what manner of shit is gonna fall on us come april.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 11:08:01 PM EST
You know you are in trouble when the The Guardian Politics Sketch fails to be pure satire and becomes accurate editorial reporting, as it has for some weeks (or months?)

{My bold)

[The parliament session of 14 Feb 2019] ended in chaos. .... both the leaver and remainer Tories abstained so that the government was defeated on the main motion it had won two weeks previously.

You couldn't make it up. May could not even win a meaningless vote. Which, ironically, in itself had meaning. Humiliation. For her and the country. The EU must be pissing themselves. How can you negotiate with people who are certifiable?

Ian Dunt at politics.co.uk is running out of polite language to summarise the incompetence.

The government has been defeated by MPs on propositions that they themselves backed two weeks ago. The whole edifice of blather and nonsense is coming tumbling down.


The government has based its negotiating position on amendments which are on the one hand meaningless and on the other hand powerless, and now it is surprised when they do not form the basis for a stable platform of parliamentary support.

It was a shameful moment, one which was conducted without any honour or dignity whatsoever. Even for this government, which is quite plainly the worst of our lifetime, it was a despairing spectacle.

by oldremainmer48 on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 11:31:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I began regularly reading the NYT when I was about 10 years old. My parents bought subscriptions to The Detroit News (daily) and the Times (Sunday edition). They did not truck with The Detroit Free Press. In my early years I was content to pour over a very few sections on Sundays, the Magazine (Wm. Safire was my first favorite "columnist") and Book Review (from which I collated a list of selections for "Santa" who I happened to know shopped at the bookstore owned by my 4th grade teacher and his wife). With time I advanced to additional sections until finally I was reading the whole damned thing, daily, finally quit it, and arrived at an opinion of its preposterous editorial management which I hold today.
Fall Guy

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 04:18:51 PM EST
More and more Brexit is resembling one of those salons Kaiser Billy used to have prior to World War One.  The ones where the attendees were 100% male with the high point of the evening being one of the top generals of the Imperial Army preforming a solo ballet dressed in a tutu.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:33:13 PM EST
in different social circles...!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 05:59:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lived in the San Francisco area for some time.  A top general dancing in a tutu only provokes a yawn and, "that's all you got?"

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 15th, 2019 at 09:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian is saying that A.50 should be extended.

"...the time has come for parliament to get behind Ms Cooper's all-party plan to use legislation to take back control of the Brexit process - and extend article 50..."

Seems to me that this would be just about as bad of a situation as what is already in place. The A.50 referendum was done without a defined plan in place; what would be the point of extending A.50 without a defined plan in place?

The only sensible way forward at this point is to withdraw the A.50 letter, go to the drawing board (note, not "back to the drawing board") to come up with a new plan, and then hope that the EU doesn't radically change the A.50 process within the next six months.

by asdf on Sat Feb 16th, 2019 at 04:34:14 PM EST
Any revocation kills Brexit. Likely any delay, especially any delay to attempt a realistic plan, also kills Brexit.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 16th, 2019 at 07:14:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
None of this will be acceptable to Brussels and the members of the EU. PM May, her Brexiteers, Tory and Labour MPs won't get any act together before the Ides of March. The Brexit ship will be launched from the dry dock and fail to float the first hectometer.


by Oui on Sat Feb 16th, 2019 at 10:00:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit, complexity and the tangle of European minds
British debate is dumbing down arguments to misleading simplicity
One of the most worrying features of Brexit is that the UK seems to have lost the capacity to manage complexity. Many individuals in Britain can, of course, still grapple with difficult issues as well as anyone.

But the UK system, taken as a whole, seems to have become unable to understand and manage the complex issues arising from the country's efforts to disentangle itself from the EU.

This incapacity to deal with reality is evident in the ongoing fiction that there are serious negotiations going on to change the Northern Ireland backstop.

There seems to be a growing need in the British public debate to boil arguments down to a level so simplistic that they end up somewhere between misleading and meaningless.


However, our nearest neighbour raised to a fine art the presentation of competing views as half-witted, shared achievements as national victories, compromise as national defeat, and above all childish fiction as gospel fact.

On the path which led towards Brexit, the unwillingness of the UK tabloid media and many politicians to absorb, or even admit the existence of, complex detail led to David Cameron's abandonment of any effort to sell the deal he had painstakingly agreed with EU partners.

The popular British perception is that Cameron was offered next to nothing by the EU; the truth is that, in terms of the balance of interests involved, the deal was reasonable and significant. Cameron, having negotiated the package, decided on the basis of the initial media reaction that it was just too complex to sell.


Not surprisingly, the deal which Theresa May negotiated, shaped and signed up to in the autumn, with its necessary compromises, has proved too complicated for those who were fed for many years on a diet of straight bananas rather than straight talk.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 10:09:18 AM EST
It's not that Cameron's deal was too complex, it was that he'd set up a narrative beforehand of "Victory or Referendum".

What the media expected was for Cameron to go to Brussels and give them a Thatcher-esque handbagging. When Cameron emerged from the meeting conspicuously lacking Angela Merkel's head on a plate, the obvious tabloid interpretation was that he'd failed.

Farage seized his opportunity to shout into every microphone he could see (and there were many) that Europe could not be negotiated with. Given the expectations he'd already set up, by the time Cameron got near a microphone, he was already a loser.

Cameron's problem was that, although he was Prime Minister, he was really only playing one on TV. He had no political intelligence, no low cunning. He should never have fallen into making himself hostage to an impossible bargain in the cheap way that he did.In this he was consistently outplayed by flyweights like Boris and Gove. But, given his Eton and Oxford background he thought he'd be good at poltics because he was privileged and entitled and so deserved it. The idea that it had to be worked for and worked at simply never occured to him.

The moment he encountered a difficulty, he resigned. It would have been better for everybody if he'd retired to the library with a good cigar, a bottle of whisky and a revolver. Indeed he could have done that in 2010 for the betterment of us all. But we aren't so blessed with men of principle nowadays. Just over-promoted chancers

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 03:42:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the author, Bobby McDonagh, former Irish Ambassador to the EU, UK and Italy, covers your point by writing "However, our nearest neighbour raised to a fine art the presentation of competing views as half-witted, shared achievements as national victories, compromise as national defeat, and above all childish fiction as gospel fact".

In my latter years as a senior manager in Diageo the management culture had effectively changed from Irish and Scottish to English dominated. Managers who had spent decades working for what they believed to be the best interests of the company were dismissed as dead wood to be replaced by English "young turks" good at PowerPoint presentations but little else.

What had been a production and quality dominated management ethos become dominated by a marketing ethos where facts mattered little and we started selling "consumer experiences" rather than quality drinks - perhaps best exemplified by the alcopops boom.

IT systems which had a demonstrated track record of delivering huge benefits in a production environment where replaced by "vapourware" which operated only on powerpoint - at a cost of millions. I finally resigned on principle after one such episode although there were also personal factors driving my decision.

But it left me with an abiding impression of a UK management culture dominated by the marketing of simplistic illusions rather than the complexities of making sophisticated products or managing complex processes.

Cameron always struck me as the epitome of that genre: probably a nice enough bloke, personable and charming if he wanted to be, and with an ability to sell oil to the Arabs. But don't ever put him in charge of a complex negotiation or governmental reform.

And yet compared to the current lot, he was probably an intellectual giant!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 04:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's McKinsey ethos aka seagull management. Fly in, shit on everything, fly out with promotion

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 05:37:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK-Japan trade talks sour after letter from Hunt and Fox
The UK's latest attempt to persuade Japan to agree a quick post-Brexit trade deal has backfired after officials in Tokyo reacted with dismay at British tactics.

Theresa May's government is already battling to mend relations with China, after Beijing cancelled a key trade meeting with chancellor Philip Hammond in protest at a UK pledge to send an aircraft carrier to the Pacific.

Relations with Japan have soured as a result of a letter from the UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt and international trade secretary Liam Fox which told their Japanese counterparts that "time is of the essence" and said flexibility would be required on both sides.

Although UK officials insisted that the letter, sent on February 8, had been couched in standard diplomatic language, Japanese officials believe that it reflected an increasingly high-handed approach from the British side. In response, officials in Tokyo briefly considered cancelling a round of trade talks this week.

In one section, the letter said that "we are committed to [speed and flexibility] and hope that Japan is too" -- a line which, according to people close to Japanese trade officials, was read in Tokyo as an accusation of foot-dragging. People familiar with the situation said that Japan was finalising an appropriate response a week after Mr Hunt and Mr Fox's letter had landed.

Although Japanese businesses, particularly in the automotive and financial services sectors, have spent two years fretting over a hard Brexit or a no-deal scenario, the UK's desperation to have trade deals in place before or shortly after its scheduled departure from the EU on March 29 is now becoming increasingly clear to the Japanese public.

Japan's state broadcaster NHK devoted part of an extended show on the 40-day countdown to Brexit by showing a bewildered panel of presenters a "Brexit survival pack" of dried foods and other provisions.

Australia provided a measure of relief for the UK when Simon Birmingham, trade minister, told the Financial times that Canberra was willing to sign a fast-tracked trade deal with London in the event of a no-deal Brexit, adding that "I would absolutely hope that we would conclude negotiations this year." But Mr Birmingham poured cold water on Britain's ambition to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional bloc.

Japanese officials familiar with Tokyo's bilateral talks with the UK said that there had been growing frustration with the British side.

Although Japan acknowledges that progress has naturally slowed while their UK counterparts have been pulled into preparations for a no-deal Brexit, officials say there have been several occasions when British negotiators have come to the table without the necessary specialists to take negotiations forward.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 10:19:43 AM EST

What Trump can do, I can do better ...

Gunboat diplomacy

At the Munich Security Summit ... the gap between Trump & cohorts with mainland Europe is widening. Brexit is an evolutionary process ... it's in the AngloSaxon dna.

by Oui on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 10:31:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to make some jokes about genetic "drift" or "introgression" of neandertal and denisovan alleles, but will resist the temptation for now.

Neither time nor fun in explaining a joke.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Feb 19th, 2019 at 03:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder how much of the UK-Japan dispute has to do with lack of diplomatic expertise within the UK as a result of a few decades of relying on the EU to do the negotiations. ???
by asdf on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 06:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently gun-boat diplomacy doesn't work so well for the Brits any more, and for some strange reason the Japanese are not prepared to simply cut and paste their recent deal with the EU into a UK FTA. Who'd have thunk?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 06:35:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the view amongst the realists is that the Japanese thought they had a deal with Thatcher that the Japanese would site their industry here and, in return, HM Govt would deliver access to the EU.

The Japanese Govt delivered a short memorandum 2 years ago about its fears for brexit and the likely consequences. The Tories chose to ignore that and, since then, Japanese companies have gradually, one by one, withdrawn from the UK.

Those blue passports better be worth it

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 07:42:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Propgandizing Propaganda w/e 23 Jan 2019

Why 2021?

Japan's Honda Confirms Plans to Close UK Car Plant in 2021

The announcement comes as the United Kingdom is bracing for a possible no-deal exit from the European Union. US car giant Ford warned the UK government this month that a chaotic departure would be catastrophic for manufacturing.
Honda to close British car plant as Brexit looms
But the timing of the announcement about the Swindon plant, just 38 days before Brexit, comes after a series of warnings from Japan that it would pull investments if they are no longer economically viable after Britain leaves the bloc.
No reference here to the Withdrawal Agreement period, ending WHEN?

TRANSITION, ARTICLE 126, Transition period, p196 (14 Nov 2018)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Feb 19th, 2019 at 03:01:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain needs a day of reckoning
There is something surreal about these last days before Brexit - just 39 now. There is still no visibility on a deal, and no clarity on a no deal. There is no parliament that seems to have a grasp on managing the slide into the unknown, other than humiliating the prime minister in vote after vote and then proposing little as an alternative. The scene outside parliament is a collection of Brexit doomsday soothsayers and naysayers, each with chants and flags and signs and regalia.

Elsewhere, stranger things are happening: pro-remain campaigners have started stripping off, we are arguing about Winston Churchill and Boer War concentration camps, and children are marching in the streets chanting: "F**k Theresa May." It feels like the last days in the compound of a cult that once flourished but is now finally and fatally besieged.

The end of such a cult, that operates outside the bounds of common sense, is inevitable. Not only that, it should be welcomed. It is time. It is time for the country to come to terms with the fact that it has for too long been in denial about some of its fundamental flaws - and if a messy unplanned Brexit is the way to do that, then so be it.

These past few weeks are proof that Brexit, maybe even a hard Brexit, is now looking more likely. Yet, counterintuitively, it also looks like it is necessary. The country is paralysed and polarised ahead of next month's deadline in a fever of predictions, lies and anticipations that will only break when the reality bites.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 05:45:08 PM EST
it's difficult to argue with that essay. We probably do need a big doese of hubris. Whether the media will ever allow the public to see the evidence of this disaster is another thing entirely

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 07:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The end of such a cult, that operates outside the bounds of common sense, is inevitable.

If I recall correctly, it ends when they all line up to drink the poisoned Kool-Aid.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 20th, 2019 at 11:42:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the 39 day theory seems to be out the window.

Britain has until mid-March to seal a deal with the European Union, diplomatic sources in the bloc said, or it would otherwise be too late for the gathering of 28 national leaders later that month to approve it before Brexit day on March 29. "They have until March 10, maybe March 15 at the latest."

That is 23 days.

by asdf on Wed Feb 20th, 2019 at 04:31:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

27 Jan archive

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Feb 20th, 2019 at 06:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe would welcome Corbyn's Brexit plan, says Coveney
Proposals put forward by the British Labour party leader for a deal on Brexit would be welcomed by Brussels, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said on Monday.

But such proposals must come from London and could not be tabled by the EU, he insisted.

"The EU is very open to that solution if the UK will actually pursue it," he said. "But the onus has to be on London. ...the logjam and problems are in London and the solutions have to come out of London.

"We can't put things to the British government that they don't want..."

Mr Corbyn has proposed that the UK sign up to permanent membership of the Customs Union and a substantial part of the single market. He wants British negotiators then to seek a mechanism to allow a British say in future EU trade negotiations.

Westminster observers say such a solution could potentially command a Commons majority but it remains deeply anathema to Mrs May who believes it would split her party irrevocably. In Brussels, many believe that the Corbyn option remains the only viable route out of the impasse to avoid a no-deal departure.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 06:30:04 PM EST
People keep overlooking the necessity of Brexit to keep the Tory Party together.  

Then the DUPers were given a veto rationality became impossible.

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

by ATinNM on Tue Feb 19th, 2019 at 03:21:33 AM EST

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