BREXIT: London Evening Standard or should it be Londoner Abend Standard

I had the need to visit London yesterday on medical grounds, collecting a copy of the London Evening Standard to read on my way home. Important editorial warning of the ever-increasing likelihood of London rising to tier 3 because of the rapid increase in Covid-19 infections is consigned to the bottom corner with the blazing headlines and main editorial focused on the doom and gloom of a no BREXIT deal. Whilst I appreciate that, overall, the vote in London to remain in the EU was marginally more than 50%, and the former schoolboy Chancellor now editor George Osborne is heart on sleeve Remainer, what happened to balanced reporting? And, of course, the doom and gloom can only be described as originating from the stable of Lord Haw-Haw.

But who are these people in London who cannot accept that we have already left the EU and now want to ensure that UK sovereignty is not compromised by any future arrangements with the EU? I know that some have vested self-interests which can only be described as selfish and certainly not in the long-term best interests of the UK. Remember the Corn Law wars. Others probably have property within the EU and selfishly do not want any added burden to their usage thereof. But surely there has been enough press on these negotiations to understand that the EU is fearful of the future enterprise of the UK embarrassing the EU and thus want to have the capability to rein in and stifle such economic prosperity as there is no doubt that the UK will certainly lead the EU in technology and innovation. You only need to see how many very bright young people have already departed the EU to the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia to know where they think their future lies.

Let us blow one myth currently touted by Remainer – the people of this country did NOT vote to leave the EU with a Trade Deal, they voted to rid themselves of the shackles of the EU. The current so-called Trade Deal is a blatant attempt by the EU to replace some of the shackles to UK prosperity and well-being all in the name of maintaining the integrity of the Single Market, the most protectionist market in the World. A no-deal BREXIT is by far a better scenario than one which continues to shackle the UK to the delusions of grandeur of the EU elite. Let me make my argument.

The EU, as a trading bloc, is possibly, but not certainly the largest trading partner of the UK as some UK business recorded by the EU is only in transit through the EU to non-EU destinations. These transactions will certainly continue regardless of the outcome of trade discussions. The UK’s largest single trading partner is the USA, and the UK is the third largest export market of Germany. Yesterday a German Minister was reported to state that a no-deal BREXIT will cost some 700,000 jobs in Germany, a serious economic impact.

The current net trade imbalance between the UK and the EU is EUR1 billion per WEEK in favour of the EU. Thus, the UK is an important trading partner for the EU.

The UK imports some EUR37 billion of perishables from France per year. What will happen to this produce if France throws its toys out of the pram and blocks this business, or prices it out of the market with tariffs? The French Government finally alerted producers in France last week that the UK has already sourced some 50% of this produce outside of the EU at cheaper sourcing prices, and the EU is not currently able to absorb this reduction in trade. These are perishable good with a finite usefulness so cannot be stored or held up by unwieldly red tape at ports. We are talking of EUR 700 million per week which is much transport logistics, and many thousands of people’s livelihoods. If these products are not freely and swiftly delivered, I predict the producers and supply chain will be on the streets in French cities, and some will burn.

Another French childish idiosyncrasy is the announcement that UK citizens will only be allowed to visit France for up to 90-days in any 180-day period. Considering that President Macron was a former banker does he not understand that people who choose to have extended visits to France spend money there which probably supports the economies of towns and villages they frequent?

Another announcement that also is absurd. The EU have announced that transport from the UK can only be single destination within the EU, the same with pick-up. Economically and environmentally ridiculous. Have the Londoner Remainers not noticed how may distribution hubs have been built in the UK this past year? The UK can play this silly game by restricting foreign lorries to one of these hubs from where goods will be distributed throughout the UK by local transport thus providing jobs here.

Another myth is there will be significantly more paperwork involved in a no-deal structure. Do the people of London think that UK firms only deal with the EU? Do the people of London think that UK trade with the EU will continue with existing paperwork in the event of an EU trade deal? Trading paperwork will comply with International Standards thus for exporters not wholly exporting to the EU little will change. In any event they will find that astute corporates have already reduced their exposure to the EU.

I heard a cynical so-called expert from the fishing industry (where does the media find these ‘experts’) say there is little or no benefit of UK fishermen resuming control of UK waters because most of the catch goes to the EU who will block trade. I remember when the fishing industry in the UK was decimated by the UK submission to the Common Fisheries Policy. It will take time to rebuild UK fishing fleets. An opportunity exists for existing UK fishing fleets. The shop and restaurants of the EU will still need fish. Where else can they get them? If the EU wants to impose tariffs the cost will be borne by the EU buyers, not the margins of the fishermen.

Another, no doubt, tale to spook is BMW intend to transfer production of the mini to Germany. Good luck with that one. They should learn by the woes of Jaguar Landrover who, a few years back, announced they wanted to build Jaguar cars in the USA, that is until they were told in no uncertain terms by the Jaguar Owners Club in the USA that their members would only buy cars built in the UK. Although Jaguar Landrover may have heeded that warning they decided to build the Landrover Discovery Sports in Croatia only to find that they cannot sell them in the UK. Production is now being transferred back to the UK. No knowledgeable car manufacturer will move production from the UK if they want to sell their vehicles. The Mercedes F1 racing team is not only championed by a British driver; the car is designed and built in Northampton, UK. Only the Mercedes badge is possibly produced in Germany.

The biggest laugh for me is the EU demand to have some regulatory control over the activities of the City of London, the financial capital of the World. I was part of the Passport negotiation with Jacques Delours and Prof Tickle with M. Barnier as a bit player. They came with demands from Germany to levy withholding taxes on trades with German citizens and any trade in German Bund. Delusional. They were told that they comply with International trading rules or go away. They now say the financial community in the City will only have restricted access to the EU. They forget that the Euro is and will remain cleared through London – embarrassing for such an important (in their mind) institution. The EU has no financial capacity to absorb the EU based derivatives so will continue in London. If any member State, or EU corporate wants to raise capital it must come to London. This will not change. So much for the mighty EU.

If I were strategically managing negotiations with the EU, in the event they are not willing to remove all the cynical Sovereign handcuffs from the deal I would concede to a no-deal scenario and prepare for WTO rules. I predict, by first quarter-end 2021 the EU will be back looking for a deal. The UK will have a bumpy transition but would under either scenario, and it’s clear that the Stock Market investors are not concerned either way. Investors are the people who put their money where their mouth is so others should listen. It should also be remembered that losing the UK will have far reaching negative impacts on the EU from which they might not recover. The German economy is built on a similar incestuous model as was seem in Japan in the 1970/80’s until it imploded. The UK does not want to be anywhere close to the EU when this happens. I shall also watch with interest as Putin imposes and interferes with the much-weakened EU, especially because the insane energy policy of Germany leaves them totally exposed to Russia. Without the influence of the UK, I think Putin will become emboldened in his dealings with the EU.

In summary I would suggest that Londoners still sleepwalking wake up to the reality that we have already left the EU. Whether or not we have a trade deal with the EU is of small consequence against our long-term freedom and prosperity. I would suggest when Londoners are free to travel the globe again, they stop someone in the street where they are and ask them a simple question – can you show me on a map where the EU and its capital, Brussels, is located? Then when their confused look diminishes ask them where the UK and its capital, London are located. Then remember what it is to be British and think of that quintessential Englishman, Captain Sir Tom and his true blue British view that tomorrow will be a better day.

BREXIT – The Use and Abuse of Political Statistics

The European Elections delivered a fragmented wake-up call to Brussels; a comfort in political terms, but hardly a vote of unity. As per usual politicians from all factions engaged with the use and abuse of statistics to shed some light on the outcome in their favour, even if only to say their message needs to be clearer.

Within the UK it would be laughable as these inept politicians squirm if the issue upon which they have failed the electorate is not such a challenge to the UK constitution.

What we saw in the UK was a fledgling BREXIT Party who platformed honouring the 2016 Referendum vote to leave Europe with or without a deal. They polled 32% of the vote and won 29 MEP seats. By far the winner. General Elections have been won at this level of vote.

Then we have the Liberal Democrats who platformed a single message of scrap BREXIT and remain in the EU. How a so-called democratic party can ignore a clear democratic referendum outcome is beyond me, but they polled just 20% of the vote and won 16 seats.

Following them we have the Greens which I think is a singular, more idealistic vote. I would suggest, based on the fact that all interviews I witnessed with Green Party officials and candidates regarding BREXIT reverted to climate change within 30 seconds of the interview, that the issue of political remain or leave was not a factor in such votes. If one believes the commentators, the Greens attracted predominately younger voters who may not have a political view/understanding of BREXIT, or are more preoccupied with climate change and want a voice. Thus, I don’t think it statistically robust to consider the Green vote in the leave/remain argument.

I think that the above parties all profited from a unifying sense of belonging to a singular cause.

Of the remainder there will always be the hardcore Labour or Conservative voters who have always voted in a singular way. We don’t know with any reasonable accuracy where any such voter stands on the leave/remain argument.

The remainder of smaller parties are a mix of rebel causes on the fringes of the system. If there is an argument to put any one of these parties in either camp, then you would also argue that the UKIP vote should be added to the BREXIT Party vote. The sum of these votes does not change the political landscape, so again not relevant to the argument.

In 2016 the result of the Referendum was 52% in favour of leaving the EU. The polarised nature of this result has fragmented and frustrated politics since – a clear demonstration that UK politics is neither democratic nor fit for purpose. Why ask for the majority will of the people who turned out in numbers never before seen in any election, and then ignore it? The European Election results would suggest that Nigel Farage is right. Leavers have hardened to some 60%.

Since then the anti-democratic remain side of the argument has tried everything to scupper BREXIT bolstered by Teresa May’s deal that cannot possibly be approved whilst it challenges the sovereignty of the UK. No true, blue-blooded Brit will allow sovereignty to be under the control of Brussels. It is clear that the backstop agreement is fully intended to be activated with the only way out for the UK is to concede Northern Ireland back to the Republic of Ireland – the game that Leo Varadkar has been playing all along. It will be interesting to see how he feels when staring into the face of a no-deal with the consequences to the Republic losing its largest trading partner. Ireland’s economy decimated again? For sure Teresa May will go down as one of the worse Prime Ministers ever, even worse than Tony Blair.

The motion passed through the House of Commons taking a ‘no-deal BREXIT’ off the table was a shambolic demonstration of abuse of the political system. The EU will only capitulate to a sensible deal when they are faced with ‘no-deal’ as the real alternative. As professional negotiators well know all options must be on the table, and it is certain that the EU will capitulate at the eleventh hour if no-deal is the option facing them – with most of the EU either in or approaching recession they cannot afford this outcome. There is no such person as a hardliner Brexiteer. They are the people who understand the protocols of negotiation.

Jeremy Corbyn has always played politics with BREXIT pushing for a General Election rather than respect the BREXIT result, relying on the younger, gullible voter who will believe promises that cannot possibly be delivered. Opportunist indeed, but I think be careful what you wish for. Climate change has captured the imagination of this younger voter so they can easily drift to the Green Party as throughout Europe. Then we have the hardcore Labour constituencies who voted for BREXIT and demonstrated their disdain with their party by voting for the BREXIT Party. If the BREXIT Party do indeed contest a General Election, I would reasonably expect Labour supporter to move to the BREXIT Party thus decimating the Labour Party. Justice indeed.

As for the Conservative Party the ill-consider snap election called by Teresa May without any understanding of her failings in the Party Manifesto find themselves in a difficult position and need to bring their own MP’s fully into line and then attract dissenting Labour MP’s in fear of losing their seats if they are not seen to support BREXIT to restore order to the BREXIT process. Perhaps it’s time to ask local constituency party association officials to encourage their MP to back the party or surrender their seat to someone more understanding of collective co-operation and respect democratic outcomes.

The UK now need a capable Prime Minister who understands how to negotiate with the EU. A no-deal option must be on the table, and a hard position taken with the EU with the certainty that no-deal will be the outcome should the EU not take a more reasonable stance.

Unifying the UK is best addressed once the people see that all the remain fear tactics are nonsense, even with a no-deal outcome. The UK is the fifth largest economy in the World and has global influence the EU can only dream of. The EU cannot ignore the UK.

The European Elections have pushed the real statistics back in support of BREXIT with, or without a deal, knowing an agreeable deal will most certainly be forthcoming from the EU at the final hour. The other statistic that will be interesting to watch is how many of our current MP’s are serving their final term as in the next General Election voters express their wrath with them for failing to respect the majority will of the people.

 

BREXIT: A Pragmatic Message to the EU

The intransigence of the EU, no doubt fuelled by the traitorous people of the UK attempting to overturn Brexit, now requires a firm, but British pragmatic approach. I would propose the following:

Ladies and gentlemen of the EU we find ourselves at an impasse that could lead to unnecessary harm to our great nation States. Today we are faced with the opportunity to show why our nations have survived great turmoil in the past, and that we have learnt the lessons of failure to achieve equitable relationships. During the past two years the UK has been more than conciliatory in its attempt to smooth an orderly exit from the EU. The imbalanced level of consideration provided to the EU has clearly caused irreconcilable division in the UK Parliament resulting in many difficulties for the UK Government. In order to achieve an orderly exit this must change. Having given great thought to what needs to be achieved before the 29th March 2019 I would agree that reopening the Exit Agreement would not achieve the required progress in the time remaining. I propose we bin it. Of course, there are aspects of this Exit Agreement that can amicably and equitably be transposed to a new agreement.

Let me be clear that we will not extend the leaving date as I’m sure that we all consider that enough time an expense has been expended on this project. Other distractions such as revoking Article 50, a further referendum in the UK, any reference to Norway plus, or Canada plus plus are not considerations on which the EU can rely. The only surety is that the failure to achieve a reasonable and, above all, equitable settlement before 29th March 2019 is that the UK will leave the EU and that the £39 billion demand by the EU will then be subjected to International Court of Arbitration scrutiny and ruling. Failure to agree an equitable way forward will certainly cause short-term economic turbulence throughout the member states and the UK Government could better apply the exit amount to smooth such turbulence within the UK economy. During this exit process the UK economy has shown itself to be resilient and indeed buoyant and I fully expect this to continue regardless of what happen on the 29th March 2019.

From the start of the leaving process the UK proposed negotiation based upon a Strategic Alliance. The EU rejected such proposal insisting that the divorce settlement be agreed before any future relationship. This has proven to be a failed approach. Now we must proceed with an inclusive agreement including a future trading relationship as proposed and submitted to the EU in March of this year. As we are looking to replace an existing trading relationship none of the usual procrastinated negotiation of trade deals is either desirable or necessary. We may have to agree to further refinement during a transition period, but this is the nature of the strategic alliance process. Importantly, within the existing proposal are terms that with the installation of additional electronic surveillance on the Irish, Northern Ireland border as proposed by HMRC and declared as workable by the technocrats in Brussels we can completely illuminate the most contentious issue facing us today; the backstop agreement.

No doubt you will resound with protestation that such an agreement cannot be achieved in the time available. We disagree. Most, if not all, of the required components are at our disposal. All we need is the essential component of any Strategic Alliance; the will and commitment to achieve an economic and political relationship in the spirit of friendship and co-operation, and above all of reasonable and equitable benefit to both parties. Any financial settlement will be fully subject to such parameters.

To the heads of the EU member States I would add the following invitation. Should no agreement be achieved and ratified by both sides before the 29th March 2019 then the UK is fully prepared to continue to trade with any member State on existing terms and give priority to such trade over alternate sources if delivery and reciprocity can be assured. Further political posturing will not solve this problem and thus we must each address the realities of no deal in regard to the best interests of the people we each represent.

Why is the UK Government Shambolic?

Well, well, well, the UK Parliament has now completed their demonstration of irrelevance to the people of the UK. IN 2016 the people provided the most conclusive referendum result in British history instructing our politicians to leave the EU. What have our politicians done about it? We have politicians who claim that 17 million people were completely duped into a decision to leave – what an arrogant lack of respect for the people. They further argue that Brexit will make the UK poorer by 3.9% over 15 years. Such economics is not only irrelevant once projections exceed 5 years, but also assume the remainder of the World remains stable – most unlikely. These people are so deluded that they think people care about such minimal projection compared with maintaining their English way of life.

Then we have Teresa May’s idea of a negotiated exit. She tried to be all things to all people and was duped into an exit deal which is meaningless to all with the first attempted sacrifice of national sovereignty in UK history with the so-called backstop. As an experienced negotiator with some 30-years of experience of negotiated deals throughout the world had I been David Davis and found out that she had been agreeing terms counter to my strategy behind my back I would have ripped her throat out. A negotiator goes to the table with a mandate to agree a deal, not play puppet. She should listen to her own words when she has often said that no deal is better than a bad deal. Then she should understand that united, her enemies stand; divided they fall. Her isolationist approach allowed her enemies both in the UK Parliament and the EU to unite against her. About time she studied Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’. She listens to civil servants (who were probably remainers) rather than seasoned negotiators. When have such people ever negotiated a good commercial deal – think PFI and MoD procurement over the years. Her track record with the recent Conservative Party Manifesto which so obviously would lose her votes speaks volumes about her approach. Then she tries to apply a hard line by regularly stating that her deal is not only the best deal but the only deal that can be obtained. What an amateur. Who does she think she is kidding? She gives her very soft Brexit stance away when she insists that she is honouring the 2016 Referendum result but safeguarding economic interests. You cannot go to the negotiating table with one foot in each side of the argument and expect to satisfy anyone other than the EU.

We have a Parliament populated by a few who understand pragmatic democracy, the remainder being either traitors to both democracy and the people they are elected to represent, or opportunists who care only for power at any cost. Even seasoned politicians such as Ken Clarke fail to respect the 2016 Referendum result. Whatever happened to integrity, honour, servitude, and loyalty to the democratic process? The mandarins in Brussels must be laughing their socks off.  I sincerely hope that the people of the UK remember these traitors at the next General Election and cast then aside.

There is no escaping that the weak position adopted by Teresa May in these negotiations means that the UK has very little substance to show after two years of negotiation. Her stance of an amicable, soft Brexit settlement has led to concession after concession and a large exit bill without so much as a letter of intent regarding a future trade deal when such a deal could so easily be on the table today if the EU wanted such a deal. Whatever happened to “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”? Had M. Barnier arrived at the negotiating table with a contained mandate that no trade deal could be discussed until the exit terms have been agreed a seasoned negotiator would counter with the proposal that exit terms will only be agreed when a trade deal is part of that process. The EU played well. They used the emotive Northern Ireland border issue with great effect, and May’s secret team fell for it hook, line, and sinker forgetting that it is the EU who are insisting on a hard border, and which is not necessary in any event with a suitable trade deal. The UK is not obliged to install a hard border leaving the Irish Government, hence the EU in a difficult position. And the EU’s stance; the UK wants to leave so it is their problem, and May’s team swallowed it. Negotiation is a war where dignity and respect are maintained throughout, but never accepting any responsibility or compassion for the other side’s position.

The collaborative position of the EU and the UK traitors against an ill-equipped negotiating position have manifested itself into the shambles we have today.

It is perfectly clear that the EU will do anything to avoid losing the control they currently enjoy over the UK. It is devastating to the EU both politically and economically to lose the second largest economy within the EU and to lose the influence that the UK provides in the global arena. And they want to avoid having such a large successful trading nation as a neighbour without any influence over such a nation. And off course they want to avoid losing any other major countries of the EU so must make the UK exit as difficult as possible. And we must include vested national interests such as the opportunist Irish Government seeking to use Brexit to re-unite Northern Ireland with Ireland. The contra of this is that the UK is a significant trading partner in the EU with a net surplus of Euro 1 billion per week in favour of the mainland EU. The UK is the third largest trading partner of Germany in the world, and the largest exporting partner for the German automotive industry. France exports some Euro 37 billion of produce to the UK each year. We have just witnessed how a few thousand angry demonstrators react to (needed) social and fiscal reform in France with President Macron being forced to retreat. Think about the impact of some one million farmers, trucker, and other associated business interests on the streets if told that they can no longer deliver such produce to the UK tariff free. Spain have already declared that their close relationship with the UK predates that with the EU and they have no interest in damaging such relationship. And I think Italy will just ignore Brussels. Therefore, reality will be far more powerful than political posturing. What a strong position for a Brexit negotiation. So why is the UK negotiating team sympathising with these EU realities. They are powerful weapons, and I don’t see the EU having concerns over the impact to UK citizens of their proposed stranglehold over the UK with the current deal.

As much as a no deal scenario is not desirable in the short-term because of the inevitable disruptive impact I have to agree that no deal is better than a bad deal. However, I am equally certain that the more devastating consequences to the EU of no deal would instil a needed dose of reality into this situation with the EU coming to the table with a far more reasonable and conciliatory attitude within weeks, if not days. The EU cannot afford a no deal Brexit, so the negotiating position is still wide open if the UK Government wake up and instil some British backbone into these negotiations. The Lithuanian Prime Minister has inadvertently indicated that the EU expects to concede more.

BREXIT – The EU plan to derail Brexit is exposed

At last the EU has declared their devious hand – let’s make negotiations so difficult for the UK Government that they need to put the deal to a UK vote in order the derail Brexit. Typical EU shenanigans. Ark back to various treaties that required ratification by each member State. If any member State could not get the support of the people the orders from Brussels were go back and keep trying until you get the result we require. The EU are desperate to keep the UK within the EU because of the serious impact to them of losing such a powerful member. And no doubt they have been working with compliant members of the UK Government to spread fear and negative propaganda regarding the impacts of Brexit. Even Christine Lagarde from the IMF was brought out this past week to spread her evil discourse, but she did the same just before the Brexit Referendum and what a total fabrication of economic misrepresentation and lies that was.

The interesting question now is the extent to which Teresa May is complicit with the EU as she did vote to remain in the EU. I hope not but the knowledge that she was secretly negotiating with the EU through a separate team of Government mandarins whilst David Davis was officially in office to negotiate the UK exit deal (and over which David Davis resigned) does give cause for concern. If she fails to stand her ground on a ‘no deal’ Brexit then it is time for her to go. She clearly demonstrated in her disastrous General Election manifesto that she is not a competent leader of the people and I do not think her Chequer’s paper comes close enough to what the majority of the people expect. She has repeated stated that Brexit means the UK is out of the Customs Union, the Single Market, out from under the control of the European Court of Justice, and out of the free movement of EU citizens. I agree with the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Davis and many others that Chequers doe not deliver this. The fact that Michael Gove has stated that a future Prime Minister will need to change her proposed deal speaks volumes.

We also see that the EU is specifically targeting the Irish border issue – probably the most emotive aspect of Brexit but in no way difficult to resolve. The UK has no desire to install a hard border crossing into Northern Ireland – a practically impossible task in any event, and not needed. The electronic border process that exists today can be readily adapted assuming that the EU is prepared to agree a free trade agreement with the UK. As this was the original intent of the EEC all those years ago and to which the UK joined – not political union – then this should be relatively straight-forward except that such an agreement would leave the door open for other member States to leave and this is the crux of the problem. The Irish border issue, and indeed Brexit, are not difficult for the UK, but they are a thorn in the side of the EU as they cannot ignore the serious impact to the EU of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit but have so many other problems that they do not want the UK to be the first of other States who see their future outside of the control of the mandarins in Brussels.

So where now? Obviously over the coming months we will see an avalanche of remoaner attempts to derail Brexit. No doubt the EU will both fuel such dissent and measure the impact as part of their strategy. Could I remind these remoaners that the UK has, for the past 100 years, been called upon to be steadfast against the conflicts within Europe. The UK is under attack from European mandarins who want control of Europe and the diminishing of the power of the UK in the process. This process is far from democratic and does challenge the freedom of the British way of life. I have recently visited with a number of different peoples of Europe who all agree that the general difference between mainland Europe and the UK is that Europe tends to be introspective whilst the UK tends to global in interests and reach. If remoaners need positive guidance they should look at the people who put their money where their mouth is. The UK stock market has been remarkably resilient in the face of substantial challenges since the Brexit vote. They believe in the future of the UK outside of the EU and buy into the UK. We see Apple moving its European headquarters to London as with Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and other major corporations. We also see Deutschebank take 25-year leases on two new office buildings in London. These people know where they need to be to prosper post-Brexit. Can armchair remoaners without such financial commitment challenge such business logic?

We are called upon yet again to be steadfast amidst the likes of well-meaning but unrealistic Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain attempting to appease the enemy. They are the enemy within and should certainly reap dire reward for their treachery. If Teresa May cannot stand her ground in the face of the EU shenanigans then she must step aside for the sake of the British people. The dogs are at the door; it is time to deal with their rabid intensions.

Does the UK Party Political System need a ‘Night of the Long Knives’?

 

Brexit has amplified blatant dissension amongst politicians of all persuasions. This not only creates difficulties getting anything done but also makes politics irrelevant as there is no longer the discipline within any party to fulfil manifesto pledges under collective responsibility. As politics in its disciplined form functions on mediocrity what we now have is treacherous chaos.

Having recently watched the ‘Darkest Hour’ account of the challenges faced by Winston Churchill during those dark days of May 1940 dealing with the plotting shenanigans of the fearful pacifists headed by Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax (whose view was essentially that he knew better than the people what was good for them). They completely undermined any attempt to deal with the fundamental reality that Adolf Hitler was hell-bent on conquering the whole of Europe, including the UK. Any hope of a peace deal as proposed by Halifax was pure fantasy based only on irrational fear. These people were the remoaners of today. Churchill’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’ came after speaking personally to the ordinary people on a tube train to Westminster and which prompted the courage to deliver his famous oratory to the Houses of Parliament on 4th June 1940. He mobilised the people of the UK to save the UK army stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk and to fight for the British way of life in the face of the overwhelming odds within mainland Europe, and in the face of certain members of UK politics. Sound familiar?

Our party-political system is based on people agreeing a basic ideology and creed regarding how to run a country. Like-minded people then form a party, select constituency representatives to stand as Members of Parliament under an agreed manifesto who, having achieved the majority of MP’s, select a leader who then forms an executive in the form of a cabinet. This cabinet is obliged to execute the manifesto upon which the people voted them into power with the full support of back-bench MP’s.

Think of the UK as a major corporate (UK plc) with a CEO (Prime Minister), Board of Directors (Cabinet), Line Managers (back-bench MP’s) and departmental workers (local constituents). Successful corporates will have competent and capable management resources who co-operate to secure their place in the market. Such corporates have a circular information flow in which strategy is fed from the Board down the ranks, and the ranks feed back the merits of such strategy in terms of execution and benefits. A competent Board will consist of Directors representing different factions of the company each expressing their own views without fear within the confines of the Boardroom. However, once a majority vote has been taken as to strategic direction then each Director, irrespective of their own personal view, is obliged to either diligently implement the agreed strategy, or find another job. Likewise with the Line Managers and departmental workers. Anyone expressing dissent or failing to comply will be quickly dispensed. A successful corporate needs allegiance and loyalty of all involved or it will surely fail.

So why do our politicians think that UK plc does not need the same corporate discipline to be successful? Why is it possible within UK plc to have a small band of Conservative back-bench MP’s who, in spite of their rhetoric to the contrary, are hell-bent on sabotaging Brexit – and think it entirely acceptable to attempt to hold the Prime Minister to ransom if she does not comply with their wishes. These people clearly think they know better than more than 17 million constituents and thus believe they have the right of treachery both to their political party and to the people of the UK.

In the case of Brexit David Cameron asked the people where they stand on UK membership of the EU. They responded in numbers never before witnessed – the majority wanted out. The people have spoken. The Executive has their instruction to leave the EU; the obligation of the back-bench MP’s to support the executive in the process regardless of their personal preference or how their own constituents voted – this was a national referendum; not regional.

So why are these rebels not dismissed? There must be a mechanism to dispense with these people. They are on the wrong side of the argument and are naphtha to the politicians in Brussels fighting to hold their power over the UK including extracting continuing contributions to its failing economy. Complex negotiations for Brexit are difficult enough without having the enemy within your own camp. As a trained negotiator the fundamental mindset is that life is simple, only people make it difficult. Unfortunately, the Churchillian orator powers of Socrates are a scarce resource at present so I fear we need an alternative ‘Night of the Long Knives’ to rid us of this treacherous few so that the people get what they expect. I would certainly like the opportunity in open debate to expose their lack of understanding of the EU venture to the UK people. When do these people wake up to the fact that the UK economy is robust despite the politically motivated propaganda of the likes of OECD and IMF. Of course the EU will trade with the UK on fair and reasonable terms – the trade deficit alone in favour of the EU is Euro one billion each week! Of course the most important centre of Global banking will remain in London (the USA have made several unsuccessful attempts to move this influence to the USA). And history has shown that the UK prospers better when it controls its own destiny.

Just a brief note on the antics of the House of Lords remoaners. Anyone familiar with the Corn Law of 1932 will understand the vested interests of hereditary peers in their fear of losing substantial subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy that should have been scrapped years ago.

If we go back to 1940 Clement Attlee, the leader of the opposition Labour Party understood the realities within Europe and proposed a grand coalition, but absolutely not under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Today we have a Labour Party in disarray regarding Brexit. Last week demonstrated that the rebels in the Conservative Party could easily be countered by the Brexiteers in the Labour Party. Thus, one remedy to rebels against Brexit would be a grand coalition of MP’s committed to the majority will of the people specifically for Brexit to achieve the best possible terms for Brexit putting Brussels on notice that the UK is united across the major parties in responding to the mandate of the British people. This would change the whole dynamic of negotiations with the EU and result in the effective beheading of the remoaners as would be the case under that greatest of Generals, Sun Tsu. Furthermore it would neutralise irrelevant but mischievous minority parties such as the Liberals and the SNP.

Has Democracy As A System of Government Run Its Course?

 

In a speech in the House of Commons on 11 November 1947, Winston Churchill said: No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Since then democracy has shown itself as a far from perfect system in that the inherent assumptions are that every voter has the capability to understand the issues, and the people elected to deal with the issues have the appropriate experience and wisdom to conduct the majority view of the people. Recent elections throughout the World demonstrate that neither assumption is reasonable. The result is a range of governments derived from populist to unwitting authoritarian.

My attention was drawn to the breakdown in democracy in Europe during the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, and later the Lisbon and Nice treaties, where various EU member Governments were unable to achieve ratification of these treaties on a free vote but were instructed by the Brussels apparatchik to continue to poll until they achieved the required result, i.e. undemocratic attrition.

In the UK we have two clear examples. The BREXIT referendum attracted the largest turnout of any election in recent times by percentage of votes, and numbers who voted, thus should be deemed to be compliant with the fundamental principle of democracy. Using the fundamental principles of democracy the outcome should be accepted by all, and the Parliament of the day thus mandated by the people to conclude the exit process. Yet the remainers, or remoaners as I prefer to call them, are so vehemently opposed to the democratic result that they continue to attempt to thwart the BREXIT process without any consideration of the damage that they inflict on achieving a good divorce settlement for both the UK and the EU. To these people I say that you have no regard for democracy, the history and future of the UK, and the turnout for this important vote, but are instead far too consumed with blinkered argument with little concern regarding the damaging consequences for the people who voted, and subsequently respected the outcome of the referendum. I can assure these people that if this referendum were to rerun the vote would be more overwhelming.

Who are these people who cannot accept a democratic majority, and why do they think that they can abandon the principles of democracy in favour of a minority? I noted during the Andrew Marr show last Sunday that Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, was stating that BREXIT is so important that it should ride above party politics or personal ambition of Government members but every sentence he uttered was both party political and promotion of his own ambitions. During this week he has furthered both by stating that Parliament should have a legally binding vote on the BREXIT deal before it can be ratified – yet another attempt to thwart the process, and thus the will of the people. What a hypocrite. For balance I can also identify a Conservative MP, Anna Soubry who caused eyes to roll on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons this past Monday when she continued to vent her vehement attack on BREXIT and her party leaders. If she does not understand the principles of democracy why is she in Government?

Then we have the devastating miscalculation of the recent General Election. Short-sighted and blinkered arrogance in the extreme.  My thoughts on reading the Conservative Party (latterly described as Presidential) Election Manifesto are already published. Why did no one with political clout in the Conservative Party face down Teresa May and alert her to the inevitable consequences of such a poorly considered manifesto? I can suggest that study of the ‘Art of War’ by Sun Tzu is required study by her in future campaigns.

Of course, Jeremy Corbyn understood such consequences and saw an opportunity to seize power. He used the rise of a populist vote, especially with younger voters more consumed in their smart phones than in the real world. He promised them anything for their vote even though it was clear from the outset that none of these promises were remotely deliverable, as per populist socialist governments in South America and Africa. His was a particularly exaggerated socialist agenda that had none of the subtle argument proposed by the likes of Tony Blair. This was blatant abuse of process with the certain outcome of bankrupting UK plc. But why did these voters not see the inevitable outcome?

Today Jeremy Corbyn sees himself as the socialist saviour and although verbally supporting the BREXIT outcome he is using it as a party-political football in an attempt to unseat the Conservatives to seize power for himself. For the remoaners who think that BREXIT will be bad for the UK economy I ask them to consider the devastating consequences of a Corbyn led Government. The centre left government under Tony Blair left the Treasury coffers empty (as with all previous Labour Governments since WWII) – but this will be nothing compared with bankruptcy as Corbyn pursues a left socialist agenda. Perhaps his followers should consider the irony in my past blog ‘General Election 2015 – A Sorry Tale’.

The BREXIT campaign was bruising but, from my dialogue with people, they understood why they wanted to vote as they did irrespective of the blindingly aggressive rhetoric from both sides. My view is that the politicians were so outrageous that their words became an incoherent noise. The doom-and-gloom merchants such as David Cameron and George Osborne hid behind rigged outpourings from the likes of OECD and IMF clearly geared to frighten voters, but subsequently found to be completely false and unfounded. The UK economy has prospered post-BREXIT, and the EU is beginning to understand that THE UK is not about to bail out Europe for the third time in the past one hundred years. Teresa May has offered what the International Court of Arbitration would likely deem as legally obligated under the Lisbon Treaty. Any more requires valuable reciprocity from the EU. The second largest contributor to the EU is obviously a real loss to them, but they had the opportunity to address the needs of the UK people, but chose in their blind arrogance, to ignore such needs. Now they want to put valuable trade for both parties at risk to continue to prop up a failed system which is blatantly undemocratic. My instinct tells me that there will be substantial turmoil within the EU countries if trade is not maintained with the UK. The interview with the Foreign Minister of Spain, Alphonso Dastis, by Andrew Marr last Sunday was very revealing as he clearly stated that the close relationship between the UK and Spain pre-dates the EU. He argued that seventeen million UK visitors to Spain each year plus some 750k of UK citizens choosing to retire in Spain is not something they intend to put at risk.

So, what does all this say about our current form of democracy. We have politicians who choose the ignore the majority will of the people. We now have far too many career politicians who clearly lack the experience and wisdom needed to execute their office. We have an unelected powerhouse in Brussels who have no regard for the will of the people when it does not concur with their agenda. We have multiparty systems in many countries that govern by painful compromise (rather than strong leadership). We have too many politicians who have little regard for the ability of people to think for themselves and thus govern by fear tactics. And we have an electorate who feel disconnected from the process and thus disinterested. Instead of democratically thinking about an issue in the interest of all, they concern themselves with what matters only to themselves. Is democracy about to implode, and what phoenix will rise from the ashes?

 

 

BREXIT – 120 days on

univestBREXIT – 120 days on

It has been some 120 days post-Brexit, so where do we find ourselves when measured against the doom and gloom of the Remain campaign. We have a new PM, Teresa May who appears clear on what Brexit means, discovery that global organisations such as the IMF knowingly misled the British people, even the principal architect of the Eurozone claiming that it is now a ‘House of Cards’, and churlish self-interests trying to scupper Brexit with no regard for the democracy that they claim to cherish.

It is really sad for me to see that, amongst a significant number of people spanning all classes, there are elements of the British character that do no justice to our heritage of the UK great explorers and inventors that shaped this World of ours. I watched in disdain the current and excellent TV costume drama ‘Victoria’ recounting the trials and tribulations of Queen Victoria who reigned during the Industrial Revolution as scaremongers, vested interests, self-righteous, and ‘not-invented-here’ jealousy tried to stop the introduction of the steam locomotive. Thankfully, Prince Albert saved the day. Even today I hear eco-warriors stating that the Industrial Revolution was the beginning of the end of mankind, but where would these people, or even the World be without trains. India thrives on the railways, whereas Brazil, without much needed rail infrastructure, has serious transport and thus economic problems – look at the speed of rail infrastructure development in China.

Then I am reminded of the Neville Chamberlain pacifist era before the second world war when Winston Churchill, with his worldly experience, could see the ambitions of Hitler but, in spite of his fine rhetoric, could not persuade enough people that we needed to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. Indeed, according to Boris Johnson in his captivating book ‘The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History’, had the war been delayed by some two weeks Churchill would already have been hounded out of office!

We are told that we must learn from the past, but do we? During the referendum debate we had the David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg elite, all from privileged schooling, all career politicians with ideologies not supported by any worldly experience, and easily persuaded by more scurrilous and self-serving influences, preaching doom and gloom if we did not stay part of the EU project. They rallied any vested interest they could find including the IMF, the OECD, and President Obama – an embarrassing chapter for all of them. But history will not record any of them as good, let alone great politicians. David Cameron was clear in his Bloomberg address that if the UK did not get significant Treaty changes for the UK then he would vote out, yet like Chamberlain he returned from Berlin with a worthless piece of paper. He will be remembered as someone who readily changed his mind on substantial matters – not good leadership. But he has realised the errors of his ways and will fade quietly away. Osborne still finds occasion to try to placate his ego, and Clegg is now trying to rally support for a blatant counter-offensive to Brexit on the basis that people do not know what Brexit means. Let me assure him that the core ‘middle-England blue-blooded Brits’ that always save the day in times of need know precisely what it means – a clean exit from the EU in all respects, returning to a Sovereign State, just like most other countries in the World. As has been shown since Brexit, the UK is a major player in this World, and when we sneeze the World coughs. The EU needs the UK far more than the UK needs the EU.

So what has happened since Brexit. I would suggest that the most significant outcome is the clear demonstration of how the elite politics of today is so out of touch with reality, as is being played out in the USA today. What did go on behind closed doors that caused Cameron to accept that the UK should be sacrificed for ‘the greater good of Europe’? How many more times does the UK have to make significant sacrifices for Europe before Europe (mainly Germany) learns from it?

Let me take some words from a Telegraph article summarising a post-Brexit report from the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO). This report goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way EU insiders used the Fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system. It states:

‘The International Monetary Fund’s top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory.

This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF’s top watchdog on the Fund’s tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.

It describes a “culture of complacency”, prone to “superficial and mechanistic” analysis, and traces a shocking break-down in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation.’

The IEO Report states that since 2011 some 80% of all IMF lending was secretly used to support the Euro – not within the mandate of the IMF, and why Asia and Latin America are so incensed. Add to this the recent publication by Prof Otmar Issing, the first chief economist of the ECB and principal architect of the Euro, in which he states that the rules laid down for the Euro have been so debased by politicians that the currency, and thus the Eurozone, is but a ‘House of Cards’ waiting to collapse. Thus the desperate need to keep the fastest growing economy in the Western World, the UK, inside the EU, not least because of the unique capital raising power of the City of London – thus the lies to the British public by both the IMF and the OECD during the referendum campaign.

By far the biggest everyday loss to the EU is the City of London. With the City inside the EU it could claim to be the most significant financial power on the international stage. Without it the Eurozone does not even have the capacity to clear its own currency. The EU desperately needs the capital raising powers of the City. All of this posturing regarding passporting can be put into perspective by ING announcing last week that it is moving some 40 of its prominent traders from two locations within the EU to London. The worst case scenario is we will return to the days before passporting whereby, under the rules that international banks can only engage in business in countries in which they have a physical presence, banks will re-establish little more than a rep office through which transactions will be directed to London. As for moving banking to Frankfurt and/or Paris it should be noted that during my more than 35 years in the City this has been muted on a number of occasions. Paris is a non-starter for a number of technical reasons, and Frankfurt for even more including that no self-respecting high flier banker would consider living there.

As for corporate business I think that the recent announcement by Apple, the largest company in the World, that it is moving and consolidation its European headquarters in London, with all of the tax implications included, states the blindingly obvious – London is the gateway to Europe.

In a recent French Presidential Campaign speech by Nicolas Sarkozy he clearly stated that his first day in office (if elected) would be spent in Berlin (note: not Brussels) putting a new EU Treaty together that would address the concerns of the UK to encourage them to stay within the EU. He knows that there will be revolution in France if the farmers got even a whisper that tariff barriers were to be imposed on the UK.

In Germany we also have elections on the horizon. I am certain that the elite of Germany will resign themselves to the inevitable Brexit and thus quietly encourage election results that will ensure that no harm comes to the valuable existing trading relations with the UK.

The principle voices of Angela Merkel in Brussels, Donald Tusk, Martin Schulz, and Jean-Claude Junker, are synonymous with the problems faced by the EU. On the one hand they are stating that the EU will survive Brexit. On the other that are issuing instructions to member states to clamp down on rising nationalism.

The good news is that GBP has depreciated from its over-valued level by some 17% causing the UK Stock Market to regain some of its lost value over recent years, and provide the stimulus for the return for a much increased manufacturing base – jobs, prosperity, less dependency on imports. It should be remembered that Germany pushed through the Eurozone project to devalue the over-inflated Deutshemark by some 30% – great for Germany, but a disaster for most other members.

This devaluation will mean price increases to the UK consumer of imported goods and thus stimulate much needed, but controlled inflation reducing the need for QE and restoring interest rates to more normal economic levels. Some of this increase could be artificial as EU Governments put pressure on their major suppliers to increase prices to the UK as per the much publicised Unilever to Tesco increases which resulted in an embarrassing climb-down by Unilever. The real price increases will put upward pressure on wage demands – good for the workers who generate the wealth but contained to 2% pa or less wage growth over recent years, but not so good for fat executives who have enriched themselves with wage growth of around 10% pa during the same period. Also we can be competitive manufacturers and return to the days of ‘Buy British’. We can even return to eating our own delicious apples, currently outlawed by the EU to force import from the likes of France. The UK Government could easily buffer the increased price of fuel and energy (increases not EU related) by reducing, or indeed eliminating all of the absurd anti-competitive eco taxes on UK energy prices.

Trading with the World, including Europe will certainly not get worse, but is likely to improve. The intransigence of the EU Commission regarding trade with the EU is legion – ask the Americans. Our global relationships will prosper far more after the dust of Brexit has settled.

The issues we face today are the posturing, petulance, grandstanding, etc by both a dying EU and those die-hard remainers in the UK who have jettisoned democracy in favour of their own self-interests. This causes turbulence in the markets, no doubt exacerbated by the more influential remainers. The professional financial markets love such turbulence as they use it to generate good profits. The losers are the general public in whose lives the media relish creating uncertainty, and which impacts their cost of living resulting in understandable protest. How many media outlets have directly associated recent fuel price increases with Brexit? Oil prices are recovering from two years of global turmoil, and should settle around US$60 per barrel. The UK has a much needed currency devaluation regardless of Brexit. De facto prices will increase from their extraordinary lows over recent months regardless of Brexit. I can remember when oil prices were US$16 per barrel, and more recently US$120 per barrel – but neither to do with the EU or Brexit.

Brexit has not yielded doom and gloom, not even a technical recession. The UK is now projected as the fastest growing Western economy. Just as with the resistance to the steam locomotive in Victorian times it is time to ignore the doomsayers and grasp the opportunities that now present themselves so that, as with the proliferation of railways, the UK will again rise be a major and great player in this World in its own name.

 

EU/Eurozone – Start Again or Plod On? – Common Language

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EU/Eurozone – Start Again or Plod On?

A Common Language

The cost of operating in so many languages in the EU is obscenely expensive, and probably enough to lift all children in Europe out of poverty. If we look to our template of the United States of America, and energise my rusty memory of the formation, and formulation of the US Constitution, one of the debates was which language would be adopted – English, French, or German. Even though there were strong, conflicting opinions as there were many immigrants from many European countries all speaking different languages, they all agreed that inclusion of everyone was important in the process and thus they had to select one language which would become the language of the country. Shakespeare won the argument. We see today that Spanish has emerged as a minor second language of the USA as a result of widespread immigration from South America, and there are still small pockets of German and Dutch (primarily Amish communities), French (New Orleans), albeit none are a replacement for the use of English.

During a discussion last year with a former Federal Councillor and Minister of Justice of Switzerland, and Swiss business people, there was a clear pride that Switzerland was able to function in 4 languages, i.e. German, French, Italian, and Romantsch. I posed a question regarding what language they would use for the military command centre in the event that Switzerland was attacked by a foreign invader. After a long silence of pondering, the answer came back as ‘English’. I could only congratulate this inspired response.

This question reminded the former Swiss Federal Councillor of a funny story where this language principle was taken to extremes. In Switzerland they have 2 cantons (federal states) where the boundary passes through the city of Basel, and even along the middle of the street. The language of one canton is German, and the other is French. Each canton, without consultation with each other, introduced different regulations regarding the behaviour of dogs on the street. However they did not succeed in teaching the dogs how to read these different regulations so the dogs could not know how to change their behaviour when they crossed over the street into the other canton.

This is a great illustration on 3 different levels. The first is the natural human reluctance of neighbours, who speak different languages, to try to communicate with each other – language creates its own barriers. The second is the breakdown in the democratic pillar of subsidiarity – there is no point decentralising government if there is a lack of communication at the lower levels. The third is the problem of someone living in the community but who does not converse in either of the languages of the regulations.

Language is about communication, and is meaningless if communication does not result. Even within one language a multitude of dialects can cause lack of communication (look what the Americans did to the English language), but the written word will invariably succeed.

Having used interpreters for business discussions for many years, and even afforded the time to work with the interpreter prior to the main event in order to familiarise the interpreter with my use of words and phrasing, much still gets lost in translation – result: lack of communication.

Therefore I propose that our United States of Europe move towards a single language for, at least in the first instance, government, business, finance, and law, as it already exists today in part. I would also propose that the most widely spoken language in Europe, including as a second language, is English. As English is also the most widely spoken international language in the world, especially for business, adopting this language also makes trading in the global markets much easier. It is also the easiest language for the younger generation to learn in that they are surrounded by media primarily in English. I remember one person I know, having studied English, was amazed at the increase to her watching pleasure on hearing the real voice of John Wayne, and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.

As regards relative population size the next logical choice word be German. However even Germany has recognised that the German language is practically exhausted in that there is little realistic capacity for expansion, and as such is not really a realistic choice for the future. Indeed the German language is already littered with English words where no suitable word exists in German.

In the late 1980’s I attended the annual American Banker’s Club dinner at the Savoy in London. The speakers were Jacques Delors, a senior French economist (I think Jacques Attali before he was head of the European Bank of Reconstruction & Development), and an Executive Vice President of CitiGroup. One comment from the French economist stunned the room into silence as he spoke of European integration and stated ‘of course the language of the resulting integrated Europe will be English’. The stunned reaction revealed the thunderous thoughts around the room that a French politician is stating that the language of Europe can only be English, and this was over 20 years ago.

I fully appreciate that, for the older generation and traditionalists, learning a new language can be a step too far. However, under the tenet of democracy, provision will exist for this situation, and I do not expect the other European languages to disappear in social society just as they have not disappeared in the USA or indeed in Brazil where a number of such languages survive, including Welsh. Full transition to a single language system will take at least a generation in any event. What is important in our model is to state that there will be a single language so that people can see the target and thus slowly, but surely, move towards it.

The major emerging economies of the future, such as India – a potential major trading partner, – already speak English. Thus the global nature of business and banking has already started the transition to a common language within Europe to meet the demands of global corporations, so all we need to do for our model is to formalise this process.

Thank you for your continued interest in this European venture.

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