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.

 

September 26, 2019

Rather the UK Cabinet has no Moral Right to Sit

“This parliament is a dead parliament,” [Geoffrey Cox] said. “It should no longer sit. It has no moral right to sit on these green benches.”

Expel the Johnson (Mussolini) Dictatorship.

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.

August 14, 2019

The Westminster Government well passed it’s Sell By Date

Just read

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/14/uk-could-unilaterally-exit-eu-in-next-10-days-senior-tory-mp-says

And you will gather that the Westminster Government along wit is MPs and just wallowing in the mud.

It could be that there is no formal constitution so no firm ground or may be its just that the current crop of MPs are not just up to it.

Scotland needs to brake away so if MPs are considering unilateral leaving the EU, Scotland must consider unilaterally leaving the UK.

OK no Barnett Formula but even if formal agreement there is unlikely to be any equivalent.

Time for home brew Referendum and if Yes then Scotland should declare UDI.  Little Westminster could do – it hasn’t even the resources to send a gunboat up the Forth.

July 26, 2019

Jaw, Jaw rather than War, War; Brexit needs a resolution by the UK

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Jaw, Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson, Politics, War — derryvickers @ 9:00 pm

I understand that Churchill said ‘Jaw, Jaw is preferable to War, War.

And I wholly agree.

I do note that despite his thesis he put his whole effort in applying his whole effort into our war with Nazi Germany; he did not follow up Neville Chamberlin’s appeasement.

We are now faced with Johnson itching for war with the EU.

Should we applaud?

Johnson is the self-acclaimed Churchill look alike

I suggest No.

The EU is no Nazi Organisation.

The EU is the stanch upholder of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights; indeed, the EU has its European Charter too.

Jaw should triumph over war as long as the target is with the Human Rights Charter.

BTW I worry that the UK could now revoke membership for the European Charter under Patel.

The elevation of Johnson to PM is a disaster, none of the papers I read says otherwise, only the Tory Rags appal. The Johnson Cabinet is a Cabinet of Horrors.

Yet I accept that there needs some resolution of Brexit. There needs to be some Jaw; Jaw rather than the current standoff.
Resolution is not going to come from the EU.

If I go back the the Churchill War cabinet, much of the success politically was the inclusion of the Labour Party led by Clement Atlee; and as well as winning the war, we had the Beveridge Report – foundation of the UK Social State.

I ask why can’t the Tories and Labour recognise the total mess that is the UK and work together. May, to her credit, tried to but the two sides would not compromise or had not the guts to stand up to their own party members.

Compromise is the essence to good government as long as it remains with is the boundaries of the Charter of Human Rights.

Let’s have some Jaw, Jaw rather than War, War within the Westminster Parliament.
Equally true in Holyrood also and even at the Council level where one party proposes and the other has to oppose on principle.

BTW It grieves me to say so that Johnson responded well at his first Question Time even if I disagree with his answers.

Perhaps hope even at this time for a Government of National Unity to avoid outright War with the EU.  Though whether Johnson or Corbyn are anywhere near the calibre of Churchill or Atlee remains in doubt.

April 30, 2019

An Alliance Made in Heaven?

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May — derryvickers @ 9:04 am

Well perhaps not!

A Heavenly Alliance

April 24, 2019

The Last Supper Then and Now

Leonardo's Last Supper

Greta Thunberg talking with Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn at the UK Parliament on 23 April 2019.

Greta Thunberg should be encouraged to speak to the UK Parliament as a whole.

In any case, if Trump is allowed to speak to the UK Parliament in June (and I hope Bercow succeeds again in stopping him) then Greta should be invited to follow immediately afterwards.

 

April 21, 2019

To Focus on a Brexit Resolution

Filed under: Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics, Yeats — derryvickers @ 9:45 am

I did not know how to comment on the murder of Lyra McKee in Derry last Thursday but Brian Wilson showed the way in Saturday’s Scotsman.

https://www.scotsman.com/lyra-mckee-s-murder-shows-danger-of-no-deal-brexit-in-n-ireland-brian-wilson-1-4911924

I particularly welcome: “This is not just “one issue among many” but – as I have repeatedly argued over the past couple of years – the one that must condition the whole negotiation. You cannot have a hard border within Ireland. Full stop.”

And his conclusion: “While there is no ideal solution to Brexit, there are certainly lessers of evil. There are many good reasons for real leaders to act on that principle and Irish peace is one of them.”

I am repeated reminded of Yeats ‘A Second Coming’

Let’s hope that the Good Friday Agreement remains intact.

April 15, 2019

The Strange Case of Julian Assange

Filed under: Assange, Europe, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Cockburn, Politics, Social, USA — derryvickers @ 2:15 pm

Assange had pleaded political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last seven years.

He was eventually expelled last Thursday and arrested by the Met.

Since then many have come to his defence and an equal number have attacked him because

Julian Assange is wanted on two counts:

  1. Hacking and Leaking US military information principally on its war in Iraq
  2. Accused of rape in Sweden

You can read more about Hacking and Leaking in

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/julian-assange-wikileaks-chelsea-manning-war-democracy-a8867816.html

Cockburn believes that leaking / whistleblowing is essential in this increasingly authoritarian world and finishes his article with:

Assange is likely to pay a higher price than Ellsberg for his exposure of government secrets. The Pentagon Papers were published when the media was becoming freer across the world while now it is on the retreat as authoritarian governments replace democratic ones and democratic governments become more authoritarian.

The fate of Assange will be a good guide as to how far we are going down this road and the degree to which freedom of expression is threatened in Britain at a time of deepening political crisis.’

In his and Jeremy Corbyn’s view the UK Government should reject any US request to expatriate Assange to the US.

But to the Rape Charge, so far one case has been closed but the other is still open and the Swedish Government has yet to request expatriation. If the Swedish Government does ask for Assange to be repatriated to stand trial then the UK Government would find it difficult to refused, we are currently still part of the EU with Sweden.

Dani Garavelli in the Scotsman on Sunday:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-assange-apologists-make-light-rape-case-1-4906997

‘Labour backbenchers, including Diana Johnson, Stephen Kinnock, Stephanie Peacock and Stella Creasy, signed an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid seeking assurances that every assistance would be offered to Sweden should it make an extradition request.

Garavelli noted that:

‘In the end though, as so often, it was Emily Thornberry who nailed it. “Why weren’t the Swedish authorities told in advance of Assange’s ejection from the Ecuadorian Embassy as the US clearly was? Our priority should be the alleged two victims of sexual violence in Sweden and not a ruse to get him extradited to the US as a whistleblower,” she wrote.

And that sums up the main difference between the two potential charges: A clear court case as to whether Assange did or did not rape two ladies in contrast to the undoubted leak of US extremely dubious human rights violation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At present of course Assange is in UK custody and the UK government will have to decide whether to expedite Assange to Sweden if asked, or to the US. In my view the UK should expedite to Sweden, but I don’t know if the UK Government can successfully seek a clause in the agreement to so could prevent Assange there after being expedited to the US.

Just to finish for the time being; it looks clear that the Ecuadorian Embassy was pleased to get rid of their visitor after seven years

‘I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy,” [Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer] said’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/assange-s-lawyer-claims-ecuador-made-smears-to-justify-arrest-1-4907277

Post Script:  I have now read a similar view to my collection above. See

https://labourlist.org/2019/04/labours-response-to-the-arrest-of-julian-assange-doesnt-cut-it/

April 3, 2019

May to work with Corbyn – after 2 years

Filed under: Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics, Theresa May — derryvickers @ 9:47 am

Two contrasting views of the same eventful day 02/04/19

Paul Waugh in Huffington Post

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/theresa-may-finally-tries-to-break-free-of-her-brexiteer-prison-but-will-jeremy-corbyn-help-her-escape_uk_5ca3df58e4b0ed0d780dfd4d?95d&ncid=newsletter-ukThe%20Waugh%20Zone%20030419&utm_campaign=newsletter-The%20Waugh%20Zone%20030419&guccounter=1

and John Crace in the Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/series/the-politics-sketch

Both say in their individual styles that May is running a serious risk in finishing the Tory Party by inviting Corbyn to assist and Corbyn will be taking a serious risk that the Labour heartland will abandon them.

If the outcome is a joint recommendation to vote on a soft Brexit it could be worth it as a stay of exit from the EU for another 18 months but no more. But I do have my doubts that May and Corbyn are anything of the calibre of Churchill and Atlee.

I can only hope that the Bill before the UK Parliament today tabled by Yvette Cooper and Oliver Letwin to prevent the UK leaving the EU without an agreement is successful.  A real Stake in the Ground.

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