Category Archives: European politics

Capital City of Culture 2023

Glasgow 1990 - Cultural Capital of EuropeIn 1990, I remember posters that appeared on Edinburgh billboards. The posters announced that the Cultural Capital of Europe was to be found forty miles THAT way – arrow pointing to Glasgow.

Edinburgh and Glasgow have long had that kind of feud: Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland, city of the International Festival and the Fringe, the city that named its main train station after a series of novels by Walter Scott, the city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which hosts the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery and the National Library of Scotland, the city that was known as the Athens of the North: but in 1990, Glasgow was the capital of culture in Europe, and Glasgow had no intention of letting that be overlooked in Edinburgh.
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Filed under Brexit, EU referendum, European politics, Scottish Culture

Forty billion for EU

Before December, Theresa May’s Cabinet is going to have to agree to pay the EU around forty billion pounds – amount negotiable, but the UK government’s resistance to paying anything has meant they’re almost out of time to negotiate the amount.

Banoffee pieRobert Halfon, Tory MP for Harlow since 2010, Chair of the Education Committee and former government minister under both David Cameron and Theresa May, says of this payment

with austerity on the agenda ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, “if we start saying that we’re going to give £40 to £50bn to the EU, I think the public will go bananas, absolutely spare”.
Mr Halfon said he had backed Remain in the EU referendum, but added “we voted to leave, the public want to leave, and I cannot believe that the public would accept such a huge amount when we need money for our schools, our hospitals, our housing, and many other things”.

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Filed under Brexit, EU referendum, European politics, GE 2017, Politics

Brexit, the four directions: nadir

The EUref results map

EU Referendum Results Map

Last week, I wrote and posted a series about the four possible directions the UK can go from where we are.

From a worm’s-eye perspective, the fourth option is least-worst: but the people most likely to face negative consequences for carrying it out and saving the UK from catastrophe or disaster, are the same MPs who would have to vote for it.

And regardless of how bad it is for us in the lower income bands, MPs are all in the top ten percent by income just from their salary: they have a generous expenses system, heavily subsidised food and drink at work, complete job security until the next general election, and a nice golden parachute even if they lose their seats then: they will not directly suffer from the economic disaster of soft Brexit, and though the catastrophe of hard Brexit might hit them, they’re better insulated against it than most.
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Filed under Brexit, EU referendum, European politics, Politics, Tax Avoidance

Brexit, the four directions: part 4

Front page of Telegraph 15th November 2017 - The Brexit MutineersThere are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. We could go hard Brexit, or no deal – that’s catastrophic. We can accept the deal the EU is still prepared to offer us, soft Brexit, which may be only mildly disastrous but which won’t make anyone, Leaver or Remainer, happy: or the third direction, another EU referendum – which will inevitably stir up trouble, potentially very violent trouble, and there is no guarantee that a second referendum would arrive at the desired result; and time is running out.

The fourth, entirely constitutional option, is for the House of Commons to stop Brexit by a majority of MPs voting to revoke the UK’s invocation of Article 50 and remain in the EU.
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15/11/2017 · 12:50 pm

Brexit, the four directions: part 3

Pro-eu protester holding up BREGRET signThere are four ways the UK can go from here with regard to Brexit, and all of them are bad. Read the first and second directions: hard Brexit, or no deal, soft Brexit, or the EU’s deal.

There is no good way to do Brexit: there is only a choice between catastrophe and different flavours of disaster.

Third: Another EU referendum

The consistent argument of MPs and others against stopping Brexit – even now when it’s clear that hard Brexit is catastrophic and soft Brexit is not going to benefit the UK in any measurable way – is that a majority who voted in the EU referendum, voted to Leave the EU, so they have no choice: the UK government must obey the will of the people and the UK must Brexit.

But what if the UK ran the EU referendum again?
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Brexit on BBC extra Question Time

Stop BrexitI was tweeting away on Brexit using the #bbcqt hashtag as usual on Thursday nights, when Will Harris, a freelance journalist making radio at @BBC5live, tweeted me asking for a DM. So I did… and not long after midnight, I was on BBC Radio Five live, giving whoever’s up after midnight five minutes of my views on Brexit. (If you want to listen to me, for the next 28 days you can find me on BBC iPlayer, Question Time Extra Time on Radio 5 Live, the 19/10/2017 show, 2 hours 26 minutes in.)

What I’d been asked to respond to was a question on the Dimbleby programme itself: is no deal better than a bad deal?
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Big Issue gives Coburn UKIP-time

David CoburnDavid Coburn claims in an interview with the Big Issue that he was against the EU from 1st January 1973 onward, for a rather odd reason:

“I was politicised young, while I was a pupil at Glasgow High School. I collected old coins, bought and sold silver shillings to dealers, I was busy and happy. Then we joined the European Union, decimalisation was introduced, and overnight my coin business was destroyed. That set me not only against the government, but also the EU.”

David Coburn was born in 1958. If his birthday is between March and August, he would probably have started primary school in August 1963, and gone on to high school (secondary school) in August 1970, when he was 12. (If his birthday is between September and February, he would probably have started at high school in August 1969.)

But the day that the UK and Ireland decimalised our currencies was 15th February 1971, when David Coburn could not have been older than 13. The transition period for the pre-decimal currency ended on 31st August 1971.

We’ll overlook David Coburn’s confusion of the EU (established 1993) with the European Economic Community. He’s also confused the year the UK decimalised the currency (announced in 1966, when he was 8: finally completed in 1971, when he was 13) when the year the UK joined the EEC (1973, when he was 15).

Instead let’s consider his claims to have been running an antique coin business when a schoolboy.
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