Mike Vickers' Blog

October 18, 2019

Johnson in a Rush – To minimise the Opportunity for MPs to read the Small Print

From Today’s Financial Times

The deal that Boris Johnson signed with the EU yesterday has immense economic and constitutional implications for the UK.

In any normally functioning democracy, a treaty of this magnitude would be subject to extensive parliamentary scrutiny — if not a confirmatory vote by the British public.

The reality is that neither of these things is happening, or indeed likely to happen. MPs are being given little time to scrutinise the text before being asked to hold a landmark Commons vote tomorrow.

As for the confirmatory referendum, there will be numerous attempts by MPs to secure one in the days ahead if the Johnson deal is passed. But MPs on all sides are now so fatigued by Brexit that their efforts are unlikely to end in success.

The absurdity of the situation is not difficult to see. As Martin Wolf argues in the FT, the Johnson deal damages the UK economy. As he writes: “It is going to make the country substantially poorer than it would otherwise be. It is going to reduce the resources available to any future government to deliver on domestic policy promises.”

The constitutional implications are possibly worse. The Johnson deal means Northern Ireland will be in a completely different trading relationship from the rest of the UK. This will inevitably fan the flames of militant unionism for the first time since the Good Friday Agreement.

Note, for example, this story that the Democratic Unionist party met loyalist paramilitaries — including the Ulster Volunteer Force — to discuss the implications of a mooted Brexit deal this week. This is troubling.

Meanwhile, Scotland, which voted Remain, will want the same preferential trading terms with the EU as Northern Ireland. Instead, the Scots are being subjected to the hard Brexit that Mr Johnson is imposing on the whole of Great Britain. 

As the commentator Ian Dunt writes: “It is as if Westminster were trying to write the SNP’s independence campaign for it.”

One other aspect of this deal should not be ignored. Many MPs will vote for the Johnson package tomorrow because they think they are avoiding no deal.

But this simply isn’t the case. Under this treaty, the UK will enter a standstill transition period until December 2020. If there is no fully-fledged trade deal agreed with the EU by then, the UK will crash out anyway.

In other words, if the Johnson deal passes tomorrow, Britain will spend the first half of 2020 having the same argument it has had for the past three years. Do we accept the tough trade terms the EU wants to inflict on us? Do we ask for an extension? Or do we crash out?

MPs campaigning for a confirmatory referendum will not give up hope. If Mr Johnson succeeds tomorrow, they will try to pass an amendment demanding one in the time left before the UK’s departure on October 31.

But the numbers probably aren’t there because MPs and the British public believe that passage of the Johnson deal will mark the crossing of a Rubicon. They want the UK to move on to other things.

Of all the illusions about Brexit, this is probably the greatest of all.

 

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Johnson, Northern Ireland, Scottish Independence, UK Parliament — derryvickers @ 11:22 am

Tim Farron – Belfast Telegraph

“Those factors added together mean that the border in the Irish Sea would be absolutely permanent – that, in my opinion, is a racing certainty.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/farron-fears-latest-accord-will-rip-the-uk-apart-and-lead-to-a-united-ireland-38606378.html.

Johnson chose the wrong  date for leaving the EU:  He should have chosen the 5th of November not the 31st October

October 6, 2019

WB Yeats

Filed under: Ireland, Yeats — derryvickers @ 9:10 pm

If you are passionate about Yeats like me:

Then watch Bob Geldof while he is still on BBC4 Iplayer

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b076qphj/bob-geldof-on-wb-yeats-a-fanatic-heart

Broadcast last Wednesday 2 October 2019.  Only a few days left.

But he will be back again in around 6 months.

BTW have you seen the paintings by Yeats’s brother Jack?

And a great review by the Spectator at
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/bbc4s-bob-geldof-on-wb-yeats-was-one-of-the-best-literary-documentaries-ive-seen/

September 16, 2019

Johnson dictating to Juncker who won’t show ‘Flexibility’

Filed under: Brexit, Dictatorship, Johnson, Northern Ireland, UK Parliament — derryvickers @ 10:11 am

Yesterday it was Johnson dictating to Juncker.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/15/johnson-to-defy-benn-bill-quit-31-october-come-what-may.

Today it’s EU showing ‘Flexibility’.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2019/sep/16/brexit-latest-news-boris-johnson-talks-juncker-eu-must-show-flexibility-says-raab-ahead-of-boris-johnsons-key-meeting-with-juncker-live-news-latest-news

Pity Number 10 can’t seek with one voice.

But then its the Tory ‘Party’

Or maybe it’s just that Johnson needs the Excuse to leave; any excuse will do and Rabb is just his man to provide it (for now).

September 13, 2019

A Bridge too far

Filed under: Brexit, Ireland, Johnson, Northern Ireland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 10:13 am

Odd that if Johnson gets approval for a bridge between the UK and Northern Ireland that by the time it is built there will then be two border posts to provide paperwork to: England to Scotland and Scotland to Northern Ireland.

 

September 10, 2019

Doesn’t Northern Ireland have an Anthem

Filed under: Bercow, Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Johnson, Theresa May, Westminster — derryvickers @ 6:37 am

“While Bercow completed the formalities required to prorogue parliament in the House of Lords, opposition MPs sung songs, including the Red Flag, Jerusalem, Scots Wha Hae and Bread of Heaven (in Welsh, with harmonies).”

Doesn’t Northen Ireland have a national song or are their MPs totally on the Tory side.

Paul Waugh sums up Johnson:

“Even more than Theresa May ever was, Johnson is a now zombie PM in a zombie parliament. Unlike her, his answer is to shut down the graveyard (the Commons and Lords). Yet like May, he thinks he can get a new lease of life through a general election. Let’s see if the script is more The Walking Dead than Carry on Screaming.”

September 9, 2019

The Assassination of the Mother of Parliaments

Filed under: Brexit, Britis Empire, Europe, Ireland, Johnson, UK Parliament, USA, Westminster — derryvickers @ 8:43 am

The Conservative Cabinet assassinates The Mother of Parliaments and welcomes becoming a vassal of the USA.

The Guardian Editorial says it all.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/08/the-guardian-view-on-the-world-and-brexit-rue-britannia

I need to repeat in full below.

The Guardian view on the world and Brexit: rue Britannia

The case for Brexit rested largely upon two misapprehensions – or, to put it less kindly, lies. The first was the belief that engaging in a deep and broad partnership, with the necessary compromises and disadvantages that brings alongside all its benefits, was an act of treacherous self-sabotage. The second was a wholly unrealistic assessment of Britain’s international status and heft, rooted in a vague, nostalgic vision of its imperial past. A third myth sprang from these two: that a post-Brexit Britannia would emerge triumphant, a beacon of democracy, parliamentary sovereignty and prosperity, shining across the waves.

The last three years have left such ideas in tatters; the last week has ripped the remaining shreds away. Its events have left Britain appearing not only backwards-looking, irrational and divided, but fanatical, bitter, frivolous, chaotic and heedless of any legal or customary impediment to the executive. Boris Johnson promised a stroll to sunlit meadows; now he offers a grim, hellish march towards no deal, and his troops have had enough.

The most damning attacks come from within: from his MPs, and now his ministers. Amber Rudd ditched her opposition to no deal as Mr Johnson ascended the throne; now she has quit the cabinet and the Conservative whip, accusing him of an assault on “decency and democracy” for his purge of Tory veterans. In interviews she pressed home her attack, noting that legal advice on prorogation had not been given to the cabinet despite repeated requests and that there is no evidence that the government is seeking a deal, since it is devoting 80% to 90% of its time to planning for no deal.

Days before, Jo Johnson quit, citing a conflict between family loyalty and the national interest. Kenneth Clarke, ejected from the Tory benches after almost half a century, warned that a no-deal Brexit could be far more damaging to Britain’s economy than a Corbyn government. As briefings from Downing Street grew wilder, the lord chancellor felt obliged to announce that he would abide by the rule of law and had spoken to the prime minister about its importance.

Consider now the external view. The EU diplomats with whom we will have to work, with or without a deal, are ever more frustrated by the game-playing and have accused the prime minister of reneging on pledges to uphold the Good Friday agreement. (The taoiseach, who will on Monday meet Mr Johnson, has already warned that he does not expect any breakthroughs.)

But other parties are just as scathing. In his Radio 4 series As Others See Us, Neil MacGregor noted that respect for Britain’s parliamentary democracy and steady pragmatism are much diminished, and that the world sees an unsettled nation cut adrift from its moorings. One American columnist dubbed this week Britain’s stupidest hour, while Canada’s Globe and Mail, describing the appetite for national self-destruction, observed that the Tories had transformed themselves into a protest party “even while continuing to govern a Group of Seven nation with a permanent seat on the United Nations security council”. Implicit in that statement was a question: how long, in these circumstances, can we maintain this standing and hang on to these levers?

That the Trump administration cheers Britain towards the exit, as Vice-President Mike Pence did again in London this week, is a cause for concern, not reassurance. It wants to speed our course not from its deep amity towards the UK, but its deep hostility towards the EU. Any opportunity to undermine European cohesion, weakening it in global trade and diplomacy (notably vis-a-vis Iran), is welcome. A trade deal with Britain, inevitably on terms highly favourable to America, will merely be the glaze on the chlorinated chicken.

With friends like these, who needs to make more enemies? To say that Britain’s hard power has long been in decline is merely an expression of the obvious, not of doomsaying. Now the Brexiters who dreamed of restoring glory are daily eroding the soft power it amassed as its empire shrank. Those who doubted our goodwill and good intentions after the 2016 vote increasingly doubt our good sense too.

 

 

September 8, 2019

Where is the Life that once I led

Filed under: Brexit, Cole Porter, Ireland, Johnson — derryvickers @ 9:30 pm

Where is the life that once I led

 

 

 

 

 

 

With apologies to Cole Porter

https://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/cole+porter/where+is+the+life+that+late+i+led_20339895.html

September 6, 2019

The Backstop

Filed under: Ireland, Johnson, Politics — derryvickers @ 7:15 pm

Find the Irish Border in the picture

Boris Johnson’s Irish border plan stalls after ‘disastrous’ EU talks

British proposal to involve Stormont assembly in backstop alternative knocked back by EU

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/06/boris-johnsons-irish-border-plan-stalls-disastrous-eu-brexit-backstop-talks

August 31, 2019

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson, Reality, The Troubles, Varadkar, Yeats — derryvickers @ 7:40 am

WB Yeats

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

Just two examples

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/30/no-deal-brexit-could-motivate-dissident-republicans-in-northern-ireland-says-barbara-gray

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/31/riot-police-out-in-glasgow-as-irish-unity-march

Where is the Good Friday Agreement now.

Oddly only the US Congress may save Ireland from a Hard Border.

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