So you think you know Brexit. (2)

The great arch-rivals in the pro and anti-lobbies make claim and counterclaim and it occurs to me that they do not so much deliberately lie, as much as they are;

 1) Totally misunderstood,

2)  Have no real understanding of what they are talking about or

3) Telling porkies for the sake of emphasis.

We should expect better from our political leaders.  However, they obviously believe that the collective electorate is half-witted and feel inclined to hyperbole rather than facts, boring as they may be, on whatever side they choose to represent.

It must be obvious now that all the messages of doom and gloom, much like the famous red bus promises, are hyped up, not complete nonsense, but based on fact, that through exaggeration becomes nonsense. Here are some facts:

  1. The UK in 2018 contributed net £9 billion to the EU. £13Bn gross less £4Bn contributions from the EU back to the UK..

You can do a lot with £9 Bn. per annum, but it is certainly short of the red bus promises. We will have to pay £33 Bn as divorce bill. (to get any deal)

  • Regional world growth tables show that Europe is the second-lowest growth region behind Asia, North America, Developing Economies (Ex-Commonwealth countries) and South America.

The above shows a major opportunity to trade independently outside the EU and of course within the EU too.

  • The truth about claims that the UK economy will shrink by 6% per annum is widely misunderstood.

 What is a possibility, is that the UK could lose up to 6% of its growth potential over 15 years if it leaves the EU (depending on the deal). The claim of 6% per annum is widely promulgated and it is complete nonsense. At that rate, the UK economy would virtually disappear in 10 years – complete tosh! These wild claims put forward by the Lib Dems (become dream/fact with Remainers.) seem to imply they are either deliberate liars or they have no idea what they are talking about. I suspect the latter. These inexactitudes are compounded by claims, for example, that the decline and change in automobile production are entirely to do with Brexit when it clearly is not. How ill-informed can they be?.

  • No one, and I mean no one, can accurately predict the opportunity rewards of UK if it can trade freely with the rest of the world and have a free trade deal with the EU. It must have some positive value – hard to forecast and hard to deliver.

Not by chance or slip of the tongue did Angela Merkel warn that if Britain leaves the EU it will in all probability become a very potent competitor.  With freedom to change fiscal rules and attract inward investment, the UK is feared as a threat to the lumbering bureaucracy that is Europe.  The Euro too is saddled with immense problems of viability and despite all the uncertainty still struggles against other currencies including the pound.

In summary, both sides in the Brexit argument are making unfounded claims, some out of over-enthusiasm, some using deliberate scare tactics, some, many out of ignorance. It must be wrong for either side to threaten their adversaries with false claims of unavoidable poverty or ever-expanding and easily achieved growth.

It seems also that there is a strong current of resentment that Politicians are determined to thwart the electorate whilst making up a series of wild claims.  Happily, I think the country has made up its mind and no amount of scaremongering or wild promises will change the collective will.


Aberfan – lest we forget.

The world needs to know, that when the darkness comes, how black it is.

 How a town like Aberfan, so small, so modest, with its peaceful tumbledown streets could

be struck by such an ghastly, catastrophic tragedy.

Aberfan, a soft and lovely name, serene in the black of a coal hewn valley, in a coal hewn

place called Wales.

They lived their lives in the shadow of the great hill of spoiled land,

they sang and went to Chapel and believed in what they had.

They knew and loved their neighbours from habit and

the comfort of a known tomorrow.  They were content.

Children were the treasure of that place. Nurtured in a hard

 but lovely family that spanned the town from end to end. 

In the shadow of the filthy tip placed by skilled and knowledgeable men.

 They trusted and cared for one another, a village of togetherness

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.

They sang, they believed. Tomorrow was to be half term,

what joy, what sweetness in the coming day;

at home, no school, just a chance to play.

And then, with the Devil, riding down the hill, the blackness came.

A monstrous surge of filthy slurry.

Half the village children, teachers and carers too

Wiped out, gone, slaughtered in a trice.

This was not a war. It was much worse, it was the sin of carelessness.

The arrogance of an ignorant establishment.

Worse still it was a sin of omission,

a sin of ‘we don’t care’; until it will always be too late.

Buried alive! Buried alive in that black filth!

Sacrilege, obscenity!

A pain that’s worse than death for those who mourn. 

Now we care. We weep, but we cannot take the pain away.

Fifty years have passed, and still the guilty live

Guilty because they live, because they didn’t lose,

Guilty because they couldn’t cry

Guilty because they didn’t die.

They queued to find their dead,

wrapped in blankets in the Chapel morgues.

A grief unreal in its magnitude

Where each heart beat for one another.

Aberfan is torn apart,

where modest heaven has descended into hell.

Where the future is no more.

Blackened and drowned into foul oblivion.

The sepulchre of love now sits high on the hill

Where parents join their loves at last.

Memorials sweet cannot, and never will,

wipe out the blackness of that dreadful day.

It ain’t half hot Mum!

These protesters are a pain aren’t they, going on about climate change. What a lark eh? How do they all get there in their thousands, by train or car? Not doin’ much for global warming or the carbon footprint – what ever that is?
These are some of the comments I’ve heard over the last weeks. They clearly illustrated that most of us have no idea what we are talking about. Most people think that if the world goes on a diet of low carbon it will be OK. Will it?
Global climate change is not like putting on weight that a short term diet can put right. Global climate change is something that is cumulative, that is to say, what we’ve done already is not going to be undone easily. That carbon burden is there and will only increase with alarming consequences very, very soon unless the human race gets its act together, and pretty damn quick at that.
There is no going back to where we were, so the massive weather changes we’ve seen over the last few years are going to become standard, typhoons and hurricanes, flooding and polar melts are now a permanent feature of our planet.

Do we care?

How obvious do these changes have to become before we get serious, how many famines, how many storms, how many forest fires before really get a grip on renewables and cut down on fossil fuels?

Clowns like President Trump have no interest in the future of our planet. Before we deride him though, we should take a hard look at ourselves. Yes, the time has come. It is here right now!

What can you and I do? Even small things help, turn down the gas, get a new boiler, drive a bit slower, think about your next car. Chivvy up the Government, maybe fly less, pay carbon tax (it’ll make you think) – do something, do it now

Erdogan and Trump complicit killers. Shame on us all!

The Presidents of Turkey and the USA are aiding one another in the ruthless ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish community in Northern Syria.  Yes, we understand that the Turkish/Kurdish relationship has for ever been strained and that real enmity exists between the two.  However mass murder should never be the answer.

We know that President Trump makes things up as he goes along.  The man is a simpleton, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs, but these decisions of his amount to signing the death warrants of many of the Kurdish people who were, till last week, his allies. Women and children and old folk will die from the horrors of a vicious onslaught from Erdogan’s forces as well as gallant Kurdish soldiers.

It is worth remembering, that it was these very soldiers who bore the brunt of the war against ISIL, the very people who took responsibility for the ISIL prisoners when we in the West refused to do so. We in UK and EU are by no means with clean hands.

We must not underestimate the complexity of the issues facing Syria and all its native components. However, The USA has until now been crucial in keeping the various factions in some sort of order. The many coalitions and allies are now breaking up, with Erdogan chancing his arm to sort ‘the Kurdish Problem’ with a free pass from President Trump to carry out this awful ethnic cleansing.

Yet again we are reminded of the consequences of lunatic populism, and stupidity at the highest levels.  Some, like Erdogan, are basically evil totalitarians in waiting.  Once more the liberal centre sits on its hands while children and their mothers die.  Shame on us all. �=z7R�7

What do you think Brexit means?

–The European Union has developed from a trading bloc concept post second world war to the political union institution of today. It started as a trading proposal and then developed into a political union. The treaty of Lisbon 2007 replaced the EU’s key treaties — the 1957 Treaty of Rome primarily and conceptually a trading agreement, and the treaties of Maastricht (1992), Amsterdam (1996) and Nice (2000) Each step following on from the treaty of Rome has moved closer and closer to a federal Europe. Indeed the treaty of Lisbon is the accepted foundation of a Federal European Constitution.

The idea of a political and eventually a federal Europe has above all been the most effective way of keeping the peace in Europe, and in many ways expanding the idea of democracy to former communist and totalitarian states. This has undoubtedly been an enormous boon to the peaceful advance of Europe as a whole. The other benefits are that Europe has a much stronger voice in world affairs and much more clout when it comes to both soft and hard influence.

The Lisbon treaty has laid down the primacy of the European institutions over, (though shared in some limited issues), national sovereign governments. The European Union’s exclusive decision making encompasses the customs union, competition rules, monetary policy over euro members, common fisheries policy, commercial and international policies. This effectively means that the EU centre has primacy over all things regarding the internal market including, social policy, territorial cohesion, agriculture and fisheries, environment, consumer protection, transport trans-European network energy, freedom security and justice, public health.
Individual states are left with a much modified freedom of legislation. The greatest change has been the introduction of the Euro as a common currency, a massive operation that was implemented in a political euphoria that resulted in catastrophic economic consequences for the PIGS, (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain). Portugal has been the first to begin recovery from this catastrophic politically motivated financial change. The desire to spread the economic unity of a single currency remains one of the most intransigent issues which the EU faces. There are eleven currencies in the EU presently and all except two, UK and Denmark are bound to accept the Euro as their currency. The European Central Bank will therefore hold sway and all the member states who will eventually have to accede to fiscal union, i.e. The ECB will have the last word on budgets and thus austerity or expansion.

There are rules which govern the translation of national currencies to the Euro. Hopefully lessons of the past (Greece et al) will be learned. This is where many Euro sceptics shy away from the Federation idea, clearly to have a currency union will require the surrender of national decision making (sovereignty).

The other argument that is a worry to some, is the overall primacy of the EU in commercial policy. In the interests of the common customs union and other trading matters, the EU is defensive as well as enterprising. The EU whilst protecting its internal market, restricts access to other external markets and insists on unity of trading principles from all its members. Membership restricts members’ ability to exploit their individual specialist skills or knowledge – another Euro sceptic objection. Defence and Food industries (agriculture and fisheries) are two which are particularly sensitive to non-European opportunity.

Whilst the Pound Sterling remains outside the Euro, and the UK dominates the defence scene in Europe (which is quickly changing), the issues of international defence relationships are also vexed questions, particularly to the UK, which with France, is a permanent member of the Security Council. . The relationships of NATO and with the United States are confused with the EU aspiring to flex its own muscles on the world stage. Good or bad? Probably the former in the longer term, but there are serious issues with some member states who seem not prepared to invest in defence but still want the collective protection.

Many of the European states are keen to accept the democratic ideal, though several still have autocratic and populist aspirations. Here membership of the EU is an undoubted force for progressive good. However, the cumbersome nature of many national ideas is also a hindrance to unity and deftness to respond speedily in a very dangerous world. The strong will need to surrender their leadership international roles and be more sensitive to consensus politics. Leadership of the EU is now vested in France and Germany, how long will that be comfortable for the smaller nations.

One of the great planks of the European idea is freedom of movement and this was one of the emotive issues when the UK held its in/out referendum. The awareness of the good of immigration, has since dawned on the British public, and perhaps this has become a lesser-issue for many, but not for all. Control of our borders is a cry not only of the UK but many EU countries in the light of mass migration from the Middle East and Africa. This issue is not going to go away and seemingly will affect all nations for the foreseeable future.

The European Court of Justice is clearly an important pillar of European integration, there is much confusion in the minds of many that the Court is involved in minor admin, (e.g. the price and shape of bananas) and whilst no doubt the Brussels community is a humungous beurocracy the Court plays an essential role in the furtherance of judicial rules across the EU.

In this blog I have tried to draw attention to some of the pros and cons of the European dilemma. Not the British dilemma, which courts division, the breakup of the union, and much risk besides. One thing is for certain that if the UK leaves the EU it will have a detrimental effect both in the UK and the EU. There will be a shrinkage of the EU economy, and the UK which currently makes up 17% of the EU economy,will certainly find, at least in the short term, some very difficult issues in the financial services and agricultural industries in particular.

The possibility of the reunification of Ireland is a problem that nobody wants to face, yet it may be the only answer to the Irish problem. That would prove a detrimental financial blow to the Republic of Ireland and there is no real support there for such a move. The UK on the other hand, could foresee the unification of Ireland as a boon, since Northern Ireland has a substantial fiscal deficit running into billions of pounds/euros.

Scotland also may opt to have another vote for cessation from the Union, which if granted in the earlier days of withdrawal from the EU, could swing away and cause a huge uproar in constitutional and legal affairs in the UK. The Welsh who have the greatest fiscal deficit (per head of population) may well agitate for independence, but reality makes such an aspiration unlikely to succeed.

So there are great risks on both the EU and UK sides. Whist there have been many divisive shrieks from both sides of the Brexit arguments, no one can prophesy the future with any certainty.

In sketching the threats and opportunities that face us all, I hope some will be given food for thought.