Shake it all about: Brexit thread II

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  • Maybe, on the other hand, the founder of Christianity once remarked that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil...
    I suppose the question of whether Jesus or Paul was the founder of Christianity really should be on another thread ...

    Indeed. Oops.... I meant one of the fathers of Christianity...

    Bad aliens...

    AFZ

    I have to admit that I am a little annoyed with myself - slight brain freeze here. I knew it was a saying of Paul rather than Jesus but was a little distracted. The thing is, that I've never been remotely impressed by the arguments that Paul founded Christianity. As Alan pointed out that's a whole different thread but I think the argument is basically nonsense. So I had misattributed rather than trying to make a Pauline argument.

    The thing is, details matter. However, I do think that the "root of all kinds of evil" answers Sioni's point - in the earliest teaching of the church, we have an argument about how greed and ambivalence to fellow man can cause so much harm.

    AFZ
  • Well, Tusk seems to be enjoying his trip round Europe, yesterday he was in Dublin and made the rather startling comment, 'Ireland first'. It's unclear whether this really means that the EU will freeze negotiations, until a deal on the Irish border is agreed. Do I get the feeling that Tusk is getting impatient?
  • If he isn't getting impatient he'll be just about the only one.
  • Well, Tusk seems to be enjoying his trip round Europe, yesterday he was in Dublin and made the rather startling comment, 'Ireland first'. It's unclear whether this really means that the EU will freeze negotiations, until a deal on the Irish border is agreed. Do I get the feeling that Tusk is getting impatient?

    It will be an awful shock, nay an affront, to the British government (which is propped up by the repulsive DUP) to be asked to deal with An Irish Problem before they can move on to stuff they can sell to the Brexit supporters be they on couches, football terraces or in bars, let alone business interests and the Square Mile. I suspect Tusk and M. Barnier's team will talk around other matters but won't decide anything until this particular flavour of the Irish Question is put to bed. If nothing else it shows that you can only handle one issue at a time, because of the way in which every issue is connected with every other issue.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    edited March 2018
    I wonder what the Civil Service Permanent Secretaries are saying quietly to themselves? This mess doesn't look amenable to "behind the scenes " maneuvering, which is normally the way ministerial incompetence is handled. But I've never seen anything like this before.

    I guess they are waiting for the desperate cries for help, which must come at some stage. Maybe there is a rescue plan being concocted clandestinely?
  • I've no trust at all in members of the present government, but I do trust most civil servants to manage to get even the nuttiest ideas of government into a system that more or less works, the pragmatism of the civil service. But, maybe I was brought up on too much Yes (Prime) Minister (if too much is even possible).

    There are two practical extremes, neither of which is free of political problems. At one extreme we remain full members of the EU (though in a subtly different relationship compared to pre-referendum), at the other a complete break with no agreement on regulations, tariffs, a hard border between the UK and the EU. To abuse the oft used divorce analogy, one extreme is to stay together in an unhappy marriage, the other is an acrimonious divorce where every detail is fought over through the courts.

    The question is, can the civil servants unobtrusively talk to each other and identify some sort of pragmatic middle ground which they can put on the table at the last minute to give the politicians a face-saving option that will more or less satisfy no one?
  • The question is, can the civil servants unobtrusively talk to each other and identify some sort of pragmatic middle ground which they can put on the table at the last minute to give the politicians a face-saving option that will more or less satisfy no one?
    You'd think that if there was one we'd have heard about it by now, or dreamed it up ourselves.

  • Jane RJane R Shipmate
    I don't think there is such a thing as a 'pragmatic middle ground' when you are attempting the political equivalent of squaring a circle.
  • I've no trust at all in members of the present government, but I do trust most civil servants to manage to get even the nuttiest ideas of government into a system that more or less works, the pragmatism of the civil service. But, maybe I was brought up on too much Yes (Prime) Minister (if too much is even possible).

    There are two practical extremes, neither of which is free of political problems. At one extreme we remain full members of the EU (though in a subtly different relationship compared to pre-referendum), at the other a complete break with no agreement on regulations, tariffs, a hard border between the UK and the EU. To abuse the oft used divorce analogy, one extreme is to stay together in an unhappy marriage, the other is an acrimonious divorce where every detail is fought over through the courts.

    The question is, can the civil servants unobtrusively talk to each other and identify some sort of pragmatic middle ground which they can put on the table at the last minute to give the politicians a face-saving option that will more or less satisfy no one?

    I believe an option can be found and the Permanent Secretaries may already have been drafted but it will be political suicide for a Prime Minister (and most of a Cabinet) to propose one. Anything resembling middle ground will offend the hardliners, who are vociferous and surprisingly numerous, to such an extent that the PM et al will be unelectable subsequently.

    Still, Robert Peel had the balls to push for the abolition of the Corn Laws* against the wishes of most of his Party: It will take someone with a similar sense of principle to each a reasonable settlement with the EU, instead of being screwed over by the USA and China (amongst others).
  • On Ireland, presumably, Tusk is aware that some Brexiteers are rather dismissive of any Irish problem, even going so far as to dismiss the Good Friday agreement. I noticed the other day that Kate Hoey said that we need a 'cold rational look', at the Belfast agreement. This is Brexiteer code for 'get rid'. A hard Brexit resembles a mythic monster which sets out to devour everything in its path, even peace in N. Ireland.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    It will take someone with a similar sense of principle

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Oh wow

  • sionisais wrote: »
    Still, Robert Peel had the balls to push for the abolition of the Corn Laws* against the wishes of most of his Party:

    So the only solution is a political eschaton headed by a suitably charismatic messiah ..
  • sionisais wrote: »
    Still, Robert Peel had the balls to push for the abolition of the Corn Laws* against the wishes of most of his Party:

    So the only solution is a political eschaton headed by a suitably charismatic messiah ..

    In "Yes Minister" terms, someone would have to be "Bold". The last politician to that was Nick Clegg.
  • sionisais wrote: »
    In "Yes Minister" terms, someone would have to be "Bold". The last politician to that was Nick Clegg.

    Clegg bet that selling out his principles for long enough to get a successful AV referendum result would cement the LDs permanent place near government. In the event, it turned out that people punished the LDs and weren't willing to credit them with ameliorating the policies that they had helped the government adopt.

    More of a gambler really.

  • So the only solution is a political eschaton headed by a suitably charismatic messiah ..
    Corbyn?

    OK, maybe not.

  • There must be something wrong with this logic, but I can't see what. If we leave the single market and customs union, customs inspections and immigration inspections must be considerably beefed up. In effect, every border with the EU will be a hard one. Customs also includes veterinary inspections of live animals, checking of perishable foods, and so on. Doesn't this mean that places like Dover will need huge lorry parks, and also big customs offices, sheds and so on?

    I suppose some Brexit supporters argue that this will all be done electronically, but this isn't possible if we are out of the single market and CU, is it?

    So are the government building these offices and inspection sites? Are they preparing Dover for big lorry queues? If not, why not? Well, maybe I am missing something very obvious, but what?
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    So are the government building these offices and inspection sites? Are they preparing Dover for big lorry queues? If not, why not? Well, maybe I am missing something very obvious, but what?
    At least some of the swivel-eyed brigade have accused Hammond of trying to force May to remain in the customs union by not approving money for those projects. I suspect there's a large element of Hammond not wanting to spend money on things that he hopes we won't need.
  • I've also heard the point that if big construction sites start appearing in Dover and other ports, and 1000s of customs inspectors start be hired, this makes it very real, and implies big tailbacks of lorries, considerable amounts of customs inspections, immigration, and so on. In other words, it will frighten people a lot, whereas at the moment, Brexit has an unreal flavour, since there is still food on the shelves, there are no big queues of lorries, and so on. If it starts to become more real, people may turn against it.
  • So are the government building these offices and inspection sites? Are they preparing Dover for big lorry queues? If not, why not? Well, maybe I am missing something very obvious, but what?

    That the entire thing is a triumph of hope over experience. This is what happens when you decide that 'experts' don't really know anything anyway.


  • Another point is that Corbyn, as far as I can see, is not challenging the government on these issues. I suppose that reflects his own ambivalence to Brexit, or his support for it. But there is still the issue of how you deal with customs and immigration. What are Labour suggesting?
  • I did find something in the FT, which reports that between 5000 and 30, 000 more staff will be needed. No mention of buildings though. I suppose it has all been shelved in the hope that a 'frictionless' deal will be signed, even though this seems impossible under EU rules.

    Can't give a link, behind a pay wall, article is called, 'No Deal' Brexit would require 5000 customs officials.
  • As I mentioned earlier (on the old boards), the Netherlands has already started the process of hiring and training the 1000 new border staff they calculate they'll need. I suppose you could reduce the number of buildings and lorry parks if you have your staff go mobile - how many vehicles could a team of inspectors get through on the ferry from Calais or Rotterdam? Though presumably the ferry operators will charge these inspectors a fare, so it may work out expensive compared to having those inspections after reaching UK ports.
  • There just seems to be this silence in Parliament and in the media about this issue. I suppose the pro-Brexit media don't want to actually remind people about what might happen, but what about Remain people? Are they being polite?
  • Generally, as far as I can see, the Remain camp have largely joined the "stay in the Single Market & Customs Union" camp within the Leave side. And, the arguments there have been about big issues such as will Airbus stay in the UK, the impact on thousands of businesses dealing with the rest of the EU, the Irish Border, the general principles of the Common Market. The practical issues of border checks have been largely ignored, except in relation to the Irish border. Not so much polite, as there's some many good reasons to campaign to remain in the SM & CU that adding one more to the list (especially one that had been dismissed during the campaign as "Project Fear") doesn't help much. If people aren't convinced by the arguments already put into place then further arguments relating to the lack of customs officers and facilities to handle imports, the loss of cheap flights to the rest of the EU etc won't do much.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Trust the Dutch to be in advance of us in preparing for the flood.

    We really are up shit creek without a paddle.
  • I've also heard the point that if big construction sites start appearing in Dover and other ports, and 1000s of customs inspectors start be hired, this makes it very real, and implies big tailbacks of lorries, considerable amounts of customs inspections, immigration, and so on. In other words, it will frighten people a lot, whereas at the moment, Brexit has an unreal flavour, since there is still food on the shelves, there are no big queues of lorries, and so on. If it starts to become more real, people may turn against it.

    I think the 'turn' will come late. It's when people realise their flights are suddenly a lot more expensive, their food bills rise by 4 to 5% and cars, machinery and some electronics rise by as much as 10%, that they will need expensive health insurance to travel to anywhere else in Europe, when tarrifs put farming under serious stress, when trade suffers a slump and the pound settles on an all time low; then, and probably only then, will people 'turn'. By which stage of course, it will all be too late.
  • My church, which gathers fewer than 100 people, meets in leased premises which we know we must leave no later than February 2019. We are currently looking at new premises after a search lasting over 2 years to find a suitable solution. We reckon our current negotiations are our last hope of providing continuity in a fixed location before we run out of time. They have required considerable "change management" to bring people along with us.

    I cannot begin to imagine the impact of the lack of planning on the scale of an entire nation for an essentially similar deadline.
  • The Leave campaign had considerable support in Kent, through which most of the cross channel trade goes and they are bitterly opposed to any more parking for HGVs and Operation Stack, which turns the M20 into a lorry park really annoys them. What they will think of sufficient parking to enable goods vehicles to wait either before boarding or before entry doesn’t bear thinking about (btw, I have read that about 3 million goods vehicles cross the channel each year)
  • What I was quoting is only a tiny fraction of the Tories own impact assessment and the fact that they know all of this is coming yet don't seem to be prepared or willing to prepare for any of it is a whole new level of surreal as far as any nation is concerned.
  • Yes, some people speculate that they are not serious about hard Brexit, or believe that the EU will give the UK a last minute deal. Or it's the cult of the amateur - we will deal with all that as and when.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited March 2018
    Yes, some people speculate that they are not serious about hard Brexit, or believe that the EU will give the UK a last minute deal.
    ISTM - and again drawing a parallel with my own local premises challenge - that no matter what the options at this stage, the lack of preparations is startling.

    Carrying on as before simply isn't an option, purely because investment and political decisions are already being made. To repeat just one example already cited, the EU Parliament elections are coming up in 2019. I'm not sure what the deadline for candidates is, but as things stand I don't think there are any plans for the UK to field any (although a quick look through EU election pages reveals a similarly startling lack of clarity on this. It still seems to be 2014 on many of the pages in question).
  • re the EU Parliamentary elections. That seems to be one of the givens, Brexit will mean no UK MEPs after March 2019. A point often made in reference to a transition (let alone final deal) which includes regulatory alignment - with out MEPs, or other representation within the EU, the UK loses any influence over revision to those regulations (the UK, of course, had considerable influence in defining the existing EU regulations, and one would assume that those which we worked towards developing could easily be carried over so they continue to be regulations within the post-Brexit UK).
  • I just find it difficult to envisage a scenario in which even the most ardent Remainers will find it easy to stomach such a complete loss of control if no agreement is reached.
  • Yes, some people speculate that they are not serious about hard Brexit, or believe that the EU will give the UK a last minute deal. Or it's the cult of the amateur - we will deal with all that as and when.

    I believe it's both a lack of seriousness as well as the fetishisation of the amateur. Not sure if people can see this article here: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n05/william-davies/what-are-they-after

    In any case I was struck by this passage:
    "But for the generation who entered public life in the 1990s, after the ‘end of ideology’, there were only two choices: to devote oneself with immense earnestness to the nitty-gritty of policy and economics, or to revel in the freedom of symbolism and storytelling, as journalists, PR professionals and pranksters. Political careers came later. Britain’s misfortune is that matters of the greatest seriousness are now in the hands of basically unserious people."
  • Britain’s misfortune is that matters of the greatest seriousness are now in the hands of basically unserious people."
    Yes, I've been trying to imagine Boris Johnson seriously confronting the Russian ambassador today.
  • EirenistEirenist Shipmate
    I see that the new Eurostar service to the Netherlands is to be one way only, because the Dutch won't agree to passport and security checks at Amsterdam Centraal. Travellers are to have to travel to Brussels, detrain there, go through passport control and board a later train. The shape of things to come?
  • Satire once again speaks the truth, Kent to be renamed "England's carpark"
    A new report has shown that spending as little as two minutes extra on border procedures for each vehicle through Dover will lead to five-hour, twenty-mile traffic jams.

    However as the current government seems incapable of implementing any new procedures at all to cope with Brexit, two minutes extra per vehicle seems staggeringly optimistic
  • sionisais wrote: »
    What they will think of sufficient parking to enable goods vehicles to wait either before boarding or before entry doesn’t bear thinking about (btw, I have read that about 3 million goods vehicles cross the channel each year)

    The governments current approach appears to be adopt the 'pragmatic' solution of doing nothing, hoping the problem goes away and hoping the EU won't do anything about it:

    https://news.sky.com/story/amp/brexit-forensics-playing-chicken-with-the-channel-tunnel-11291767

  • Whoa.
    Sky News has revealed that the Government had obliged key border operators to sign non-disclosure agreements over the shape of the post-Brexit border (...)

    HMRC said such non-disclosure agreements were "standard practice". The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier said they were "extremely unusual" because they were being forced on private companies being consulted on policy options, rather than the more usual purpose of use with a commercial contractor.

    Also, the prospect that doing nothing will result, not in an instant hard border but in the complete opposite on Brexit Day Plus One.

    I wonder if the people traffickers have spotted this potential opportunity too?
  • EirenistEirenist Shipmate
    Surprise, surprise! The day after our Brexit Secretary observes that he would be willing to accept a transition/implementation period than two years, the Selet Committee on Northern Ireland reports that they have been unable to find any workable method anywhere in the world of operating an invisible border and its Brexiteer Chairman states on air that he thinks that two years will not be long enough to work out a solution - a longer time will be needed. Do we need any more evidence that the bunch of clowns running this country have no idea where they are going or what they are doing? Alas, the only likely alternative appears to be no better.
  • Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Whoa.
    Sky News has revealed that the Government had obliged key border operators to sign non-disclosure agreements over the shape of the post-Brexit border (...)

    HMRC said such non-disclosure agreements were "standard practice". The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier said they were "extremely unusual" because they were being forced on private companies being consulted on policy options, rather than the more usual purpose of use with a commercial contractor.

    Also, the prospect that doing nothing will result, not in an instant hard border but in the complete opposite on Brexit Day Plus One.

    I wonder if the people traffickers have spotted this potential opportunity too?

    It looks like these "D Notices" (for that is what they are in effect if not in name) exist to protect a weak and wobbly government. May and co are terrified that the loonies will get wind of the fact that there will be a compromise and get in a right tizz about that, rendering the agreement with the other band of Ulster terrorists pointless.

    The Brexiteers made a lot of Britain being more democratic than the EU. Well, that always looked debateable at best and this shows the argument is lost.
  • CallanCallan Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Britain’s misfortune is that matters of the greatest seriousness are now in the hands of basically unserious people."
    Yes, I've been trying to imagine Boris Johnson seriously confronting the Russian ambassador today.

    I remember once that someone asked Martin Peters if he would have preferred to play football when he did, or nowadays when you get showered with money. He responded that he would rather have played it when he did, because he had a World Cup winner's medal to show for it.

    On the other hand, I bet that the comedy backbenchers of my childhood wish they were in politics today, on the grounds that they might have held one of the Great Offices Of State.
  • So an agreement has been reached on the 'transition phase.' Listening to various Tory MP's offer their 'thoughts' I am once again stunned by how incompetent how government is.

    These MPs are calmy, and apparently sincerely, stating things that are blatantly untrue. But because the whole question of Europe is complicated they get away with it.

    What a sorry mess.
    AFZ
  • You've made a small mistake there.

    The question of Europe isn't complicated. It's just too complicated for their narrow-thinking collection of neurons.
  • So an agreement has been reached on the 'transition phase.' Listening to various Tory MP's offer their 'thoughts' I am once again stunned by how incompetent how government is.

    These MPs are calmy, and apparently sincerely, stating things that are blatantly untrue. But because the whole question of Europe is complicated they get away with it.

    What a sorry mess.
    AFZ

    My reading is that both parties want to show that some progress has been made and that is true: the rights of the 4.5 million EU citizens living in the UK and those of 1.2 million UK citizens living in the EU have been agreed. AFAICT that means that East Europeans can continue to live and work here which, unless I am very much mistaken, was something the Leave campaign wanted to put an end to.

    It's only a part of the Transition Phase though, and the Irish Border question is however, as much a problem as it was back in 1920 :(
  • I see that Chuka Umunna is claiming that the UK has conceded on nearly every point, e.g,. fishing, divorce payments, primacy of EU law, freedom of movement. I don't really know if this is correct, but I wonder if the Ultras will now start revolting against the deal? But I would think that the Commons would mainly approve of it, as it has a 'softish' flavour. Mrs May's and Davis's tactics are quite interesting - sound tough and intransigent, but give in on most things. This seems to point to a kind of EEA-lite, which is not called that, as it has that nasty horrible word 'European' in it.

    https://leftfootforward.org/2018/03/the-reality-of-todays-significant-brexit-transition-deal-seven-broken-promises/

  • My advice is don't complain and hope nobody notices.
  • Well, the more rabid end of the Brexit spectrum will certainly notice, and probably demand that it's immediately burnt in the town square. I don't really know if May and Davis are trying to outwit the Ultras, or calling their bluff. There are already ructions over the fishing deal, a very sore point in Scotland.
  • As far as I can see, this deal has been greeted by a deafening silence. Maybe this is because nobody understands it, or are afraid to condemn or praise it prematurely. It could be boredom of course.
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