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Born to rule

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 2nd, 2021 at 06:17:13 PM EST

The Cummings/Wakefield family pile: Chillingham Castle and Gardens, Northumberland. Just what establishment is Dominic Cummings trying to overthrow, or to re-establish?

One of the more puzzling aspects of the Trade and cooperation agreement just signed by the UK and EU is that its focus is almost exclusively on trade in goods, an area where the EU (excluding Ireland) enjoys a massive trade surplus with the UK. Services make up 80% of the UK economy and the City of London has been the financial powerhouse of the EU. Yet curiously the trade deal does not provide for free access for UK service companies to EU markets, does not provide for mutual recognition of professional qualifications (again, excluding Ireland), and even the Erasmus student exchange programme no longer applies to the UK.

Quite why Boris Johnson, a former Mayor of London, and surely aware of the City's importance to the UK economy and the government's tax base, should have avoided making services a priority for the UK negotiating team is beyond my understanding. Perhaps he felt that the EU simply couldn't manage without the City's financial and legal expertise and would come begging for those services to continue soon enough. If so, he is likely to be disappointed.

Services, unlike high tech manufacturing, do not require the investment of huge amount of capital in fixed plant, machinery, and associated skills which are difficult to move from one country to another.  Banks, fund managers, insurance companies and associated companies can do business anywhere which has good internet connectivity, and since the Covid Pandemic that has often been online, from employees' homes.

What matters, from an economic point of view, is where those activities are taxed and where the proceeds are invested, and what self-respecting economic power would not wish to keep those high value activities and revenues to themselves, and subject to its laws and regulations? If Johnson thinks those activities will naturally remain in London, he can, as his own phraseology puts it, "go whistle".

But the bigger issue is not just where existing business will locate their key activities, but where new foreign and other direct investment will gravitate to. Given a choice between a market of 450 Million people or 65 Million people, a stable global currency like the Euro, or a smaller regional one prone to devaluation like Sterling, and a broadly consistent and favourable political culture and one prone to instability, weird gyrations in policy, social divisions, and a Conservative Prime Minister whose many memorable quotes include "f*ck business"; which entity will likely attract the lion's share of future investment, the EU or UK?

Hard-line doctrinaire Brexiteers have often spoken about creating a "Singapore-on-Thames" in London with a bonfire of the regulations and lower tax rates.  Anyone who thinks Singapore doesn't have many regulations obviously hasn't lived there, and London has always been able to attract dodgy money from Russian Oligarchs and Arab Sheiks. Corporate tax rates aren't an EU competency in any case and as the Irish financial crisis and Deutsche Bank scandals have demonstrated, EU financial regulation is often barely up to the task  of maintaining minimal stability.

Much of what remains of British industry is now foreign owned and even most promising UK high tech companies have been sold off to foreign investors. Where do you think those investors will direct future investment given the complete disregard for their concerns by a Tory government, never mind the prospect of a Labour "socialist" led one? Even with existing investments it seems clear that when overcapacity issues require the closure of a car plant, for example, it is the UK plant which will be closed.

Left wing commentators are prone to regard democratically elected governments as merely fronts for the capitalist class forced to do their bidding, and yet it seems there has been a spectacular disconnect between the UK Tory government and the vast majority of those who actually run the UK service and manufacturing sectors. Even the famed Whitehall civil service seems to have been largely ineffectual in the face of a Dominic Cummings led attack on "the establishment" (despite his marriage into an imperial and aristocratic family) and a David Frost (aka Baron Frost, of Allenton) led Brexit negotiating team.

The British aristocracy have always been somewhat disdainful of those who earn their living in trade, and manufacturing was never a suitable activity for the truly ambition public school and Oxbridge graduate. Most aristocratic wealth came from the plundering of colonies or the professions of Law, Medicine and High Finance, at worst. Although there is a lot of rhetoric about free enterprise and trade, this is mostly about preventing the workers getting any share of the loot or externalising environmental costs,  and has little to do with how progressive global corporations actually operate.

But the one thing a British public-school education teaches you is how to bluff. Boundless self-confidence is the abiding characteristic.  These people get onto major boards without ever having done anything or learned much. The respect for money and position in society is all embracing. Many have argued that the UK will come back looking for the benefits of EU membership within 10 years, but that is not their style, even if there are people starving in the streets. Admitting defeat or having been wrong about something is just not done. Brexit will be a success, come what may, and Britain will be leading the world even if no one is following.

It's their birth right. The aristocracy are born to rule, and only a revolution will ever change that. Keir Starmer didn't take long to snuff out any pretensions to radical social change in Labour policies, hitching Labour's fortunes to the Brexit band wagon,and taking ownership of the consequences. The revolution won't come from Labour's increasingly middle class base and it won't come from an increasingly demoralised working class either. My guess is it won't come at all. Britain is simply destained for a long, slow, and painful decline, but at least the Lords will be safe in their castles and tax exiles abroad.

You forget that the negotiations, such as they were, were a showpiece for domestic consumption.
Headlines about protecting fish (a miniscule part of the UK economy) were headlined to demonstrate the Tory's concerns for the common worker folk.
As you note, only 20% of the economy is about trade in goods. But it plays well in the public consciousness. People are largely ignorant about what happens in the City and politicians are careful not to disturb that ignorance.
However, they are also aware that, despite your disdain, the EU is clmaping down on the dubious practices on which the City bases most of its trade and so there is little point in having a deal which incorporates them. On this the City really is a global player and the dirty money will continue to flow, EU or not.
And that is the goal, after all. Global Britain is The City. Full stop. Period.
A more vigilant EU will not really interrupt that trade. But a more vigilant US? Now that would be a different thing.  

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 2nd, 2021 at 08:10:08 PM EST
The idea that the US would "turn towards the Pacific" has been floating around since WW2, but we keep getting distracted from Japan and China by the common language thing with the UK.

Maybe now that the UK doesn't provide an easy interface to the EU any more, the US will notice that the players are China, the EU, and the US, in that order, and make a more concerted effort to figure out a westward-looking strategy.

The UK is now, one assumes, almost completely irrelevant in terms of global trade. Scotland and NI will run off with what is left of the fisheries and the car factories, airplane factories, international students and scientists, and financial houses will gradually relocate to the EU. Or suddenly.

It will be interesting to see if the UK can continue to attract US tourists if the economic situation becomes unsupportable. Going to London and buying some English gear is one thing; eating canned peas and turnips in the fancy hotel restaurant is another.

by asdf on Sat Jan 2nd, 2021 at 10:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the value of sterling craters under the strain, even the moderately well off foreigners will be able to live like kings in London.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 09:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd beg to differ: after the fall of the Soviet Union, the US focus has shifted to the Middle East and to Asia in the 21st century. Europe is not as important as it was during the cold war. This was plainly apparent during the Obama (born in Hawaii, raised in Indonesia) administration; his successor has treated Europe as an enemy throughout the past four years.

Common language has long ceased to be the UK's unique advantage: English is now widely spoken all over the continent and Ireland is an English speaking country - and an EU member in good standing - that can "provide an easy interface to the EU", especially with the upcoming Joe "I'm Irish" Biden.

The "special relationship" is little more than Empire nostalgia and, or course, the post-colonial fascination of the US elites with the British upper-class symbols like The Economist or the Royals.

But let's not fool ourselves: Facebook European operations in Ireland are for tax reasons, not language reasons. And when the US magazine Politico opened shop in Europe, it did so directly in Brussels, in a joint-venture with a German press conglomerate.

by Bernard on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 02:36:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... after the fall of the Soviet Union ...

the Bush and Clinton administration. failed to re-create the country in its image of big capitalism and western democracy. Foreign venture capitaists and Soviet "reformers" ripped the State of its resources and assets under Boris Yeltsin and left soon after Putin arrived. Post 9/11, Russia gave the US and allies support and cover in Afghanistan during the bombing raids. NATO got a new purpose as an American proxy to fight global wars ... the rightwingers in Washington had a scheme of so-called revolutions to spread democracy and gain markets in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Russia was shown the exit as partner of NATO during the Bucharest Summit (March 2008) under leadership of SG De Hoop Scheffer. Under Obama and HRC the reset button was pushed for Cold War 2.0 as Russia was only a regional power player.

According to neorealism, if alignment is formed because of threat, it will falter in the absence of a threat ...

by Oui on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 05:26:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Keir Starmer didn't take long to snuff out any pretensions to radical social change in Labour policies

Keir Starmer has a knighthood, so is part of the problem, and can never be part of any solution.

by IdiotSavant on Sat Jan 2nd, 2021 at 10:43:28 PM EST
It is amazing to observe, but UK politics is even more screwed up than US politics.
by asdf on Sat Jan 2nd, 2021 at 10:47:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps [Johnson] felt that the EU simply couldn't manage without the City's financial and legal expertise and would come begging for those services to continue soon enough. If so, he is likely to be disappointed.

He is certain to be disappointed.  The City doesn't have a super secret sauce making their international finance products taste better than Frankfurt, Paris, New York, Tokyo, etc.  The work is mostly done on computers and the computers can be anywhere.  The UK is simply not as necessary in 2020 compared to 100 years ago, international firm no long have to have a presence, The City just isn't that important in the general scheme of things, and as the UK economy slowly degrades will become even less important over time.

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

by ATinNM on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 12:09:55 AM EST
Profit margins do depend on where the transaction takes place. If the City is not included in all the level playing field issues, it will become even more unregulated, almost to offshore levels. Only if the EU takes significant steps to disallow financing based upon such issues, would EU business have to avoid the City.

I don't believe that is presently the case, as EU financial regs remain not tight enough. And would Luxemburg still be allowed? Here's where it would be good to have the view of Jérôme.

All the very best to all of you in the coming year. Onward!

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 09:01:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And a happy new year to you too!
by Bernard on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 01:00:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And to you!

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 04:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU share trading flees London on first day after full Brexit

London's financial sector started to feel the full effects of Brexit on the first trading day of 2021 as EU share trading shifted away from the City to facilities in European capitals.

Trading in equities such as Santander, Deutsche Bank and Total moved back to primary exchanges such as the Madrid, Frankfurt and Paris stock exchanges, according to early data from Refinitiv -- an abrupt change for investors in London, who have grown accustomed to trading shares in Europe across borders without restrictions. Hubs for euro-denominated share trading in London, including Cboe Europe, Turquoise and Aquis Exchange, all rapidly shifted business to their new EU marketplaces set up late last year to cater for the end of the Brexit transition.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 03:47:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit: Exiting from Britain.
by Bernard on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 05:27:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the rest of the world starts a boycott.
A growing number of retailers in the EU have decided they won't deliver to Britain because of the new costs involved in sending packages after Brexit. Companies have said they are unwilling to register for VAT in the UK, with one Dutch firm calling the red tape "ludicrous".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 05:42:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diane Dodds demands action as deliveries from GB to NI suffer | Irish Times |

by Oui on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 07:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Marks & Spencer said new trading rules in place since Britain left the EU were delaying deliveries of food to its stores in France - where branches had empty shelves on Tuesday.
So the French will have to drink Perrier instead of Scottish Mountain Water. Tough.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 07:52:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
India approves AstraZeneca and local Covid vaccines, rollout in weeks | Dawn / Reuters |

India's drugs regulator on Sunday gave final approval for the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and the other by local company Bharat Biotech.

The world's second most populous country is now expected to start a massive immunisation programme within weeks, with the AstraZeneca/Oxford shot taking the lead and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin administered under stricter conditions given that no efficacy data has been released for it.

The overall efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was 70.42 per cent, while Bharat Biotech's Covaxin was "safe and provides a robust immune response", said Drugs Controller General of India VG Somani.

The British-developed AstraZeneca/Oxford shot is being made locally by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and will be branded Covishield, while Bharat Biotech has teamed up with the government run Indian Council of Medical Research.

Both vaccines will be produced in India ...

Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has 70% efficacy, full trial data shows | The Guardian |

It is possible the Healtcare Authority (MHRA) in the UK, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the FDA in the US will come to different conclusions.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines have reported 95% efficacy in their trials, but Gilbert said it was important to see how well the vaccines did after six months or a year.

"We will be submitting the data to the FDA, but our best assumption is that we will need the study readout from the US before we are likely to get approval in the US," said Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of biopharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca.

Oxford AstraZeneca's is seen as the most globally important vaccine because it is easy to manufacture and distribute at fridge temperature, and the cost is low. AstraZeneca has undertaken to manufacture 3bn doses and is part of Covax, the UN programme to distribute vaccines to all countries in the world.

UK and Russian scientists are teaming up to trial a combination of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines.

Conclusion: decisions on approval of COVID-19 vaccines has been become highly politicised for domestic consumption.

by Oui on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 07:22:37 PM EST
Except in the UK where the Pfizer Biontech vaccine was approved first because Britain is the best country in the world...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 07:33:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FDA warns U.K. plan to delay 2nd doses of Pfizer vaccine could create "significant risk" to public health | CBS News |

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has suggested Britain's drug regulator may be gambling with public safety by expanding the time gap between administration of the first and second doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine beyond that proven safe and effective by trial data. The FDA warned in a statement on Monday that there was a "potential for harm" if people believed they were protected against COVID-19 by a first dose of Pfizer's vaccine for longer than available data demonstrate.

Exactly! The COVID-19 quagmire can only become worse with these politicians for populist gains. Covering their tracks of incompetence.

by Oui on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 09:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian view on Boris Johnson's mutant virus plan: needs more than PR | Editorial |

by Oui on Wed Jan 6th, 2021 at 10:17:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dumbest Ted Cruz never disappoints...

by Oui on Tue Jan 19th, 2021 at 07:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The emperor's new clothes: the UK `sovereignty' illusion
EU fish talks were always the worst: all-nighters, games of three-dimensional chess reconciling quotas, total allowable catches, "fishing effort", mesh sizes, between 28 member states with conflicting interests. Not to mention the science of fish stocks. Usually only brought to agreement by a breaking dawn and the imminence of the Christmas holidays.

And to be followed invariably by 28 national narratives of historic "victories", cutbacks mysteriously transformed into entirely notional gains.

Last weekend as we watched Barnier and Co struggling through the Brexit talks' final acts, once again tangled in fish nets, I remembered a story about the late Eamon Gallagher, former Irish diplomat and once the Commission's Mr Fish. Many years ago Gallagher, I was told by former colleagues, in the early hours brokered a way through days and nights of deadlocked talks on divvying up North Atlantic stock by inventing a new fish species and then persuading the parties to distribute notional quotas in it, so placating the previously aggrieved. Deal done.

And, in truth, the Barnier team were demonstrating a similar creativity. Their task - successfully accomplished - to create the illusion that the EU was ceding something deeply precious to the UK, albeit deeply nebulous, a cloak like the Emperor's new clothes that left its wearer barer than a newborn and as unprotected, "sovereignty". A shibboleth, a word whose meaning conjures up romantic notions of independence, autonomy, robustness, and apartness, and of resistance against coercion, perhaps even tyranny. How can anyone be against sovereignty?

But, confused with "power", British voters have been sold a pup, a dream, much in the way Trump did with his Make America Great Again (Maga)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 11:52:13 PM EST
The Sharing of Sovereignty: the European Paradox (1999) by William Wallace

A bit of historic perspective when it was the EU-15, fall of Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany. Defense and security treaties ... what sovereignty?

by Oui on Mon Jan 4th, 2021 at 07:04:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bold from the cabinet of Brexiteers ... lockdown until March ?? Borders CLOSED. Not now because of refugees MENA countries and EU workers. Non-discriminatory policy, so from Tory leader Johnson it's for everyone! 😖

PS Not just Muslim women, NHS advises everyone to go veiled!  😷 Welcome to post-Brexit UK ... MBGA 🇬🇧

by Oui on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 10:32:48 AM EST
by Oui on Tue Jan 5th, 2021 at 03:08:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit basics for UK lorry drivers ...

A Dutch TV network has filmed border officials confiscating ham sandwiches and other foods from drivers arriving in the Netherlands from the UK, under post-Brexit rules.

The officials were shown explaining import regulations imposed since the UK formalised its separation from the EU.

Under EU rules, travellers from outside the bloc are banned from bringing in meat and dairy products.

Sir, your sandwich please 🤣🤣

Taking animal products, food or plants with you | EU FAQs |

by Oui on Tue Jan 12th, 2021 at 10:38:26 AM EST
Uproar as desperate British refugee attempting to flee the cold and inhospitable, covid-ravaged island to Holland, in the nether regions of sub-Scandinavian Europe, is stopped from entering the country with tasteless food following implementation of Brexit peace deal.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jan 12th, 2021 at 10:43:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some smartass at Politico.eu called it: `Schengenfreude'
by Bernard on Tue Jan 12th, 2021 at 12:20:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good one! I may have to steal (eh borrow) it!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 12th, 2021 at 12:40:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Sat Jan 16th, 2021 at 06:11:26 PM EST

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