Tag Archives: Brexit

Alex Salmond: Blink

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 27th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

The Scottish Parliament has been in existence since 1999: Nicola Sturgeon is the present First Minister, and there are five previous First Ministers, four living, as Donald Dewar died within the first 12 months. The other four are Henry McLeish (now 72), Labour: Jim Wallace (now 66), LibDem – who was Acting First Minister on two separate occasions: Jack McConnell (now 60), Labour – and Alex Salmond (now 66), SNP. Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell accepted life peerages when they ceased to be MSPs: Henry McLeish did not, and after 2016 declared he’d support an independent Scotland if Westminster enacted Brexit against Scotland’s will.

Prior to 2010, if a First Minister – or any minister in the Scottish Government – had sexually pestered a subordinate, the Scottish Government had no policy of how to deal with this. In 2010, a policy was developed: we know that none of the women Salmond pestered made use of it – and no previous First Minister could have been affected by it.
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Looking at independence through Brexit

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 25th January 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Twenty-five days ago Brexit happened, and a few days ago I listened to a Byline news video of a fisherman talking about his vote for Leave, his support for Leave, and his subsequent disllusionment – How he had been lied to about the grand possibilities of Brexit – How if he could turn back time, he would vote to Remain.

And I thought about Scottish Independence.
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The Brexit Deal Reveal

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 26th December 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

The full text of the deal is now available.

(Boris Johnson claims it is only 500 pages long, but that doesn’t work even if he is counting 2 sides of A4 as a page.)

What is clear is that – as Keir Starmer has affirmed his Labour MPs will vote for it – the deal will be enacted by Parliament before 11pm 31st December 2020.
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Twas the week before Brexit

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 23rd December 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Christmas Eve Eve.

Here is where we are.

At 11pm 31st December, that is in less than eight days time from when I am writing this, the transition period ends, and the UK (except for Northern Ireland) is trading with the rest of the world (except where a new trade deal has been made already, which is … not many) on “WTO terms”. (This isn’t good.)

We’ve discussed at length earlier what Boris Johnson’s problem is trying to negotiate a deal: he needs to see everything in terms of winning and losing, and he needs to be able to present himself as the winner. This is not how trade deals work.

The European Parliament had its last plenary session on 17th December. No deal can be approved. The deadline to request an extension of the transition period passed on 30th June, even if Boris Johnson had been willing to ask for one.

The European Research Group are not enough MPs to overturn Boris Johnson’s 79-MP majority in the Commons, but they are likely enough MPs to trigger a leadership contest (55 letters is all it takes). The European Research Group are the MPs who want – who wanted all along – to be the winners and the victims simultaneously: to demand Brexit without defining Brexit, ot assert that only by leaving the EU and everything to do with it can they stop the EU from doing down the UK. It is impossible to make the ERG happy: if you gave them what they said they wanted, they would take that as a given and demand more and claim victimhood because they aren’t getting it.

If we crash out of the EU in no-deal Brexit on 31st December, the ERG MPs will still not be happy, because the UK will still have to trade with the perfidious countries of the EU, and collectively, they have far more economic clout than the UK did in its prime – and the UK is well past prime.

But crashing out in no-deal Brexit would have terrible and immediate consequences. The government’s “reasonable worst-case scenario” was laid out initially prior to the pandemic: when we are cresting a wave of infections for which the Tier 4 lockdown comes too late to prevent – this is, to put it blandly, an unreasonable worst-case scenario.

It is too late for a deal to be scrutinised by either the European or the Westminster Parliament before it is applied: it is not possible for the European Parliament to meet in plenary session now til January, and to be ratified by the EU, the 2000-page deal has to be translated into 27 official languages, voted on by 27 parliaments, and returned to the European Parliament. (I presume an emergency recall of Westminster Parliament could take place by Zoom, though Jacob Rees-Mogg has strenuously objected to such modern goings-on.)

If a deal is settled by close of day tomorrow, Christmas Eve, it is agreed the ambassadors of each country to the EU will meet, provisionally agree to it being applied to the UK-EU from 11pm 31st December, and an official letter (which is reckoned to take, by itself, four days to draft) will be sent out to each EU country for provisional approval.

The Westminster Parliament is likely to be recalled on Sunday 27th, two days in to Tier4 lockdown.

This will avoid, at least, the worst-case disruption – worse than that which a mere 48 hours of stoppages caused. The deal will still have to go through process for full ratification – and it is unlikely to make the ERG MPs happy: as noted earlier, it is unlikely that anything could make them happy. They have announced that as soon as the full text of the deal is public, they will convene what they refer to as their Star Chamber, and examine it in detail.

The Star Chamber was an invention of the Tudor monarchy, a court which had the power to punish crimes which might not be illegal but which loyal privy councillors to King Henry (7 or 8) felt ought to be illegal, and which English monarchs following found increasingly useful, to be able to declare something criminal and find people guilty and fine them, Sir William Blackstone notes drily in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769) that it was abolished (1641) “to the general joy of the whole nation”.

It seems strangely appropriate that the Brexiter MPs should revive a legal name that had lived on only in metaphor for secretive procedings with no due process, and declare themselves the unlawful court of social and political oppression through the arbitrary use and abuse of power.

This convening of their Star Chamber means that when MPs return from recess in January and can scrutinise the 2000-page deal, which they have bound the UK to because it was that or crash out in no deal, the first Parliamentary scrutiny will be that of this semi-official group determined to find everything wrong with it they can.

Keir Starmer will likely have whipped Labour to agree to it: the SNP have already declared they will not vote for it: but with Labour MPs who obey Starmer and Conservative MPs who obey Johnson, the deal will pass.

But it is quite possible that, though Boris Johnson hopes to have this greeted as a grandstanding last-minute victory, now the deal is done and Johnson (and Starmer) can be held responsible for it, Johnson will be gone as soon as Tory MPs can figure out who they’re going to vote for to replace him.
So to be clear: if we hear a deal has been agreed to on Christmas Eve, we may stagger along a while longer – we will at least not be crashing out in no-deal Brexit.

If no deal has been agreed to by close of day Christmas Eve, then we really are finally out of time, and have a week left to contemplate what’s coming to us.

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Vote Leave Wants No Deal Brexit

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings, in front of a Vote Leave posterThe Internal Market Bill passed Second Reading last night by 77 votes.

I couldn’t listen to all of the debate – I was working yesterday, having decided to take off Wednesday and Thursday as usual – for PMQs (Keir Starmer will be absent: he is self-isolating as one of his household has shown symptoms of coronavirus) and because Wednesday is the second day of the committee of the whole House examining the bill.

But I listened to enough of the debate, including Boris Johnson’s opening statement presenting the bill (and Ed Miliband’s strong rebuttal – Starmer picked him to sub in, and I have to say, he was terrific) to see very definitely two things.
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Writing About Brexit: the Irish Border

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 12th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

You cannot have a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because it would be the end of the peaceful settlement of 1998: it would cause economic hardship on the island of Ireland: Northern Ireland voted by majority to remain in the EU.
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Brexit and the break-up of the UK

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 7th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network. Every time I tried to begin a post here about politics, since Thursday, I kept thinking “But David Graeber is dead.”

David Graeber died in Venice on Wednesday 2nd September. I didn’t know him personally and my sense of loss is only what I feel when a writer I admire and respect and want to keep writing is gone: there will never be any more clear sharp insightful essays and articles from him, never again. He was 59 and I am old enough to feel strongly that this is far too young to die.

Well, so.

I watched PMQs on Wednesday, and Boris Johnson, fresh from his holidays, reacted to Keir Starmer’s questions with an outpouring of poisonous bile. He didn’t look well, not that his illness excuses his behaviour: as John Crace noted, PMQ is essentially a kind of Westminster performance, something perhaps only political afficionados care to watch: but it is a dance with rules, a question followed by an answer, a follow-up question, a follow-up answer. Boris Johnson was interrupted mid-flow by the Speaker, who very gently and politely told him to answer the question. I don’t think I’m inventing this: Lindsay Hoyle looked worried.
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Filed under David Graeber, European politics, Riots, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Politics, Supermarkets

Writing About Brexit: wild and whirling words

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 3rd February 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

“There is no need for a free trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules,” says Boris Johnson’s pre-written speech for Monday 3rd February, leaked Saturday.

The negotiations are not due to begin til Sunday 1st March, and the trade deal must have been negotiated, checked, translated, and presented to the European Parliament before the close of the penultimate European Parliament plenary session of 2020, which is Thursday 26th November. The UK can ask for an extension on the 31st December deadline if we do so by 30th June, but Boris Johnson has already said he isn’t going to do that.
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Tory lies, anti-Semitism, the Labour Party, Israel, and Palestine

There are two general things happening through this election.

One of them is that the Conservatives keep getting caught doing very public, very stupidly bad, disinformation actions.

During the BBC Question Time leaders special, the CCQH Twitter account – which is a blue-tick verified account and therefore is not allowed to change its display name without informing Twitter – changed its display name/header image to appear at first glance to be a fact-checking account and proceded to tweet support of Boris Johnson.
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GE2019 Results: Rotten, Uncooked, Scottish, or LibLab?

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 18th November 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

I have no idea which of these is most likely to happen in GE2019. But I’m pretty sure one of them will.

For the purposes of this scenario slicing: I’m assuming The Brexit Party Ltd wins no seats. It might, but I don’t think it will win *enough* to make any difference to the balance of power.

If on Friday 13th December we wake up to:
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