Tag Archives: Brexit

Brexit done

Well, Brexit is sort of done. It could have been worse, and Boris has maybe just enough positive headline points in the agreement to avoid shredding by die-hard Brexiteers. What it all means is yet unclear, and maybe Grumpy will have comments to make in the coming weeks.

One element which did some to his mind was the issues of borders. Grumpy has opined before on the predictions of remainers and the ‘duty free’ rip-off companies regarding border issues. (see http://grumpy.eastover.org.uk/tourist-piffle/ ). UK tourists (and it is hoped reciprocally inbound European tourists) will have to queue up for more passport inspection or stamping, and will be restricted to the amount of time that can be spent in Europe in a 90 day period, albeit this will affect in reality only a tiny percentage of Brits.

Grumpy hunted through his box marked ‘junk for disposal’ and came up with an old passport. It reminded him that in earlier times one had to queue up to get passport stamps for entry into Spain, for example, but he does not recall this being much of a hassle or a deterrent against getting a spot of sun. As an ex relatively frequent traveller to the USA he was also reminded that his old B1B visa allowed relatively pain free access to the US.

So, he mused, over the years which were the best and worst border crossings in his long travels ? Setting aside Washington Dulles (which Grumpy feels exists only as a textbook example of how not to build an international airport) first prize for consistent border hassle must have been getting the Eurostar on Friday evenings at Gare du Nord in Paris in the early days of the service, especially when “une greve” between RATP (metro and buses) and SNCF (main line) was in progress. This was French officialdom and surliness at its simply magnificent worst, unsurpassed even by US border officers at airports.

However, the simplest and quickest entry events anywhere over the years were (maybe surprisingly) by a huge margin in Hong Kong (no queues, no man behind a desk, entry with fingerprint).

As an anecdote, Grumpy discovered by accident that in Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle airport there was a simple and essentially undetectable mechanism for getting in and out of France (if one had no checked baggage) without ever needing to bother with the border. Ironically, for those trips, France would have won the simplest entry prize. He has no idea whether the flaw still exists at the airport. Without giving anything away, it is based on the existence of shared toilets on the entry level between domestic and international arrivals, it was less obvious than it sounds, and was discovered by taking a wrong turning then getting on the wrong rubber moving walkway which are part of that larbyrinthine edifice.

Hutton dogma

Journalist Will Hutton has a distinguished career, but in common with many journalists, communication with others is unidirectional. They write, they speak, they opine, and occasionally they debate. What they seemingly don’t have a lot experience with is negotiating.

Hutton was pontificating on the various interchanges with the EU in relation to final pattern of Brexit (a misnomer – we have left the EU and it’s over). He was highly critical of some form of agreement which approached anything like ‘no deal’, and lambasted David Frost and others for not concluding an agreement.

But no deal means, no deal. There are two parties and one of those parties cannot unilaterally effect a ‘deal’. No deal simply that means they can’t find common ground within their negotiating parameters. If all frameworks proposed violate the bottom lines of one or both parties, there can be no agreement.

Hutton, and most remainers don’t understand this simple business truth. You can always “agree” by capitulation. So If the EU said “you can have just 1% of fish from British waters or no deal – our final position” . Where is the negotiation? It’s not a failure of the negotiators if there is no agreement because the parties cannot agree within their solution constraints. Hutton would of course say “take it” ? The only logical outcome of Hutton’s approach – no deal is not acceptable – is that we accept whatever the EU decide if we want a deal. Negotiating principle 101 is broken – the determination to walk away from the table if real (as opposed to ‘ploy’) red lines are breached by some proposed agreement. Every negotiator needs a “walk away” scenario.

Whatever is decided with the EU now will have a generational effect on the UK. Do we in essence cede sovereignty to to the EU or not ? Do we have the some responsibilities of sovereign government delegated to France or Germany? Should disputes be resolved by a foreign court in which we have no participation? these are the stark choices for the UK.

The whole essence of negotiation is to have a bottom line – an “or else”. David Frost knows that if there no overlapping set of positions it’s their deal or no deal. NO businessman or government would or should accept that, and neither should UK Limited.

Brexit is done – drop the term

Politicians and the press are still using the term ‘Brexit’. Brexit referred to the process of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union; that has now happened, and the UK is no longer a member. It’s done. The UK has left. Brexit per se is over; it is as the Norwegian Blue. There is no reason for anybody to use the term, as it is irrelevant.

The process now taking place is a transition under the framework of the Withdrawal Agreement and the non-binding Political Declaration. So why is the ‘Brexit’ term so widely used by not only the Westminster cohort, but the representatives of the EU, and in particular M. Barnier ?

Grumpy takes the view that there are two basic reasons for this persistence, The first is the obvious one of conflating the current process with the divisions and traumas of the Brexit tussle; it helps to make it easier for those that wish for the outcome to be a closer relationship than is now likely, to build opposition. Secondly, although more speculative as an assessment, there are those who still harbour that alternative outcome wish, and search for a mechanism to reverse what they perceive as the ‘no deal’ process being followed by BoJo. This is harder to do if it accepted that the process is over and the debate terminated. Casting it as a continuation of the Brexit battle might foster rebellion to whatever is brought back as an agreement.

This slightly delusional attitude is shown in a much more unadulterated form in M Barnier. In week 2 May, he complained that ” The UK did not wish to commit seriously on a number of fundamental points” and that “failed to engage substantially” in the negotiations. What he actually means is that the UK has refused to roll over and accede to their demands.

In the Brexit negotiations, the EU sought, and succeeded, because of the weakness and complicity of the then negotiators, to set the agenda – the enemy of a balanced negotiation. Now the UK is an independent state, the EU is still seeking to do the same, and it is hoped that this rather arrogant ploy is rejected comprehensively. The approach of the UK shouldn’t be a surprise to Barnier; he merely has to read May’s Mansion House speech, although they were under her leadership hollow words.

No more. The EU has no leverage to dictate to the UK, and the current process should be what it always should have been before – a negotiation, not a capitulation, and a recognition of the UK’s not negotiable principles, just as they demand a recognition of theirs.


A short reign

It rather looks like it’s 1649 again at the Palace of Westminster, and a blonde head is about to roll in a few days or weeks time. The parallels with that time are rather interesting. In seeking to try Charles I, parliament declared itself being able to legislate alone, as has just happened. The charge against the King was that of treason against the good of the country by ac ting to further his own personal interests, which has also been the mantra of the 21 rebels and others.

And so, the events of January 30th 1649 seem about to unfold again, albeit metaphorically. Thoughts of those days were triggered by Grumpy wondering who will be taking the role of Oliver Cromwell in this story. [ As an aside, the painting by Paul Delaroche (most known in the UK perhaps for the evocative depiction of the “Execution and Lady Jane Grey” in the National Gallery) entitled “Cromwell and the corpse of Charles I”, 1831, shows Cromwell as having to Grumpy’s eye an uncanny likeness to one John Bercow.]

It will not, of course, be the revered speaker. However, having spent the last few days castigating BoJo for setting aside the constitution and tradition, the various players will seek to do just that in selecting his predecessor. The convention for appointing a PM when the incumbent has lost a majority is that the role is taken by the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition; but the ‘no Brexit full stop’ rebels, having used the Labour Party as usefull idiots to remove Boris cannot now countenance letting loose Corbyn/Macdonnell to wreck the country even more comprehensively than the worse of their Project fear Brexit projections.

Interesting times.

Confirmatory Vote mystery

Citizens of this realm are surely irritated that, having voted “leave” in a referendum which the then Prime Minister said would be honoured, a large number of Westminster politicians are seeking to frustrate that directive, citing variously that ‘people’ didn’t understand what they were voting for (but see
http://grumpy.eastover.org.uk/soubry-hypocrisy/ ), or that they may have now changed their mind, or (an old chestnut) it isn’t in the ‘National Interest’. To add further irritation, they are also regaled by a motley bunch of celebrities and ex-politicians, especially when it’s ‘Teflon’ Blair or ‘fake news’ Campbell.

The primary means by which they are seeking to frustrate the democratic will is by something called a “confirmatory vote”, which would give the option of reversing the 2016 decision. It’s presented as something logical and perfectly clear, and it is based on the fact that voters could give their opinion on a known ‘deal’. In fact, it’s no such thing, and they actually mean they want the referendum to be re-run (presumably on the assumption that the vote would change), but the idea that they are ‘confirming’ something is seen to weaken any perceived betrayal. Typical of the weasel words are those of slimy Emily Thornberry, who said “… that we say to the people, ‘Is this what you wanted?’ ‘We just want to check, because if it isn’t, let’s stay'”. As a piece of Machiavellian sophistry, this takes the biscuit.

Grumpy is completly confused. The confirmatory vote is always linked to be on ‘the deal’. But what deal ? The remainers use deliberate obfuscation, because the only deal agreed with the EU is May’s Withdrawal Agreement. However, this is merely a transitory arrangement, and dies when some final agreement is ratified. Since this hasn’t been discussed with the EU (except for a vague Political Declaration), nobody has the faintest idea what the final agreement with the EU will be – so how can people make a decision now on whether this is what they voted when they said ‘yes’ to leave ???

Tom Watson and others have defined this as a “confirmatory referendum on any deal agreed by MPs”, and said that is what their last conference voted for. This is nonsense. It cannot refer to the actual future relationship with the EU (as that cannot be discussed yet) and in any event it’s not in the gift of MP’s to agree to any other deal – only the EU can do that.

This is a naked confidence trick to lure the populace to reject Brexit on an entirely false premise. The Labour party conference referred to relates to a “deal” which is “a customs union, market access and rights protection within, with, the European Union”.

There is no such deal, and MP’s cannot alone effect it. The EU won’t negotiate further. The only choices are (1) leave with no deal (2) leave with May’s deal or (3) revoke article 50 and stay in the EU. It’s really this third option that is being pushed for, and Alistair Campbell, the ex-porn author and political lies maestro, should be justifiably proud of his Labour legacy.

April reminder

After the unprecedented and extraordinary events in the House of Commons in the last few weeks, it was hard to keep track of what Brexit may or may not be. As a ‘backstop’ (intended use of words) consider the Conservative manifesto 2017. Mrs May had made her view of Brexit unambiguously clear at that point (via the Lancaster House speech) so voters could reject that approach at the time of the election – this WAS the second referendum on Brit.

Here are some excerpts from the two referenced texts.

  • “So we will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. Leaving the European Union will mean that our laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. And those laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country. Because we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws.
  • “But I want to be clear. What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market.   … a member of the single market would mean complying with the EU’s rules and regulations that implement those freedoms, without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are. It would mean accepting a role for the European Court of Justice that would see it still having direct legal authority in our country. It would to all intents and purposes mean not leaving the EU at all. “
  • “But the message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. And that is what we will deliver. “
  • “So we do not seek membership of the single market … And because we will no longer be members of the single market, we will not be required to contribute huge sums to the EU budget. “
  • “A Global Britain must be free to strike trade agreements with countries from outside the European Union too …  And I want Britain to be free to establish our own tariff schedules at the World Trade Organisation, meaning we can reach new trade agreements not just with the European Union but with old friends and new allies from outside Europe too. “

How can anyone not have been clear about the intended goals of Brexit ? Those goals had implications, which have been becoming apparent as the agreements progressed, but they were NEVER to be part of the Customs Union or the Single Market.

Those in parliament seeking to sabotage Brexit – as defined by Mrs May and clear to all since January 2017 – could never be satisfied by any way by the targets she set herself. Grumpy’s off expressed irritation about Mrs May has never been about her policies ; rather it has been about her abject failure to deliver an agreement which was in accord with the very goals she set herself.

More Brexit paranoia

Channel closed

CNN reports (05.1.019) that those travelling to and from the UK can expect significant disruption post Brexit. Tom Jenkins, chief executive of ETOA, the European Tourism Association, said that “we have to entertain this nightmare”. ETOA also said that there will be significant disruption  to aviation, currency, insurance, mobile phone roaming and passport control.

The ETOA blog is full of warnings of extreme Brexit scenarios, without (in Grumpy’s eyes) any real basis. As ever, when doom is foretold by politicians or commercial entities, first look for vested interests and the sound of axes being firmly ground. So the above list warrants examination, and particularly from the angle of tourism.

Travel: as Grumpy pointed out in http://grumpy.eastover.org.uk/eu-might-ground-uk-planes-post-brexit-bring/ 80% of tourists to Tenerife come from the UK; Brits make up a huge proportion of holiday travellers to Spain (especially the Canaries and the Med), France and Italy. The EU accounts for over 50 million UK holidays per annum, and spending of billions of Euros.

Does ETOA seriously think that the southern EU countries will let Brussels decimate their tourist industry, and see Brits find sun in Turkey? In Spain, tourism accounts for some 11% of GDP and the UK is by far the biggest country contributor, with 18.7m visitors in 2017.

Unless the EU has a disposition  to political and economic self-harm, it will fix this at the outset, ready for 2019. To do otherwise will hurt them rather than Brits, who will fly to Tunisia, Turkey, Israel etc and be welcomed there. If the EU cause pain to make the Brexit point, they will soon discover a fundamental English trait of ‘bloody mindedness’, when they try to get any repulsed holiday makers back.

ETOA’s ‘Destination Spain’ manager is Marta Garcia Cruz, who, if her boss is right, will be looking for a job soon.

Currency : It’s not clear what the issue is here; the UK (thank goodness) is not a EURO country, and it’s hard to think why the exchange of currency will be affected in any way. As for cards, if Grumpy can use his cards in Beijing, Bangkok and Carcross (Yukon, Alaska) it’s hard to envisage not being able to do so in Munich. Plus, see the travel point above …

Passport control : Grumpy is old enough to have expired passports with Spanish stamps in. Entry  wasn’t particularly an issue then, and there is no reason for it to be now. However with not being in Schengen, Grumpy’s experience has been that the average wait for getting into Paris once in the EU was significantly longer than that the queues he experienced on his many trips to Hong Kong. If it gets materially worse, it will be down to Junker’s punishment plan or pathetic organisation.

Aviation : French air traffic controllers spurred on to add a bit of delay to UK planes would do well to remember that flights to the USA pass through an area controlled by the UK. But in general, unless the EU is economically stupid (? maybe so – they can’t ever get their accounts signed off) these issues should be fixed quickly; after all, today, we comply with EU regulations in aviation so it is not about creating a framework, but ensuring continued equivalence. Come on, the EU allows  Uzbekistan Airways, Turkmenistan Airlines, and Air Astana (which narrowly missed an EU ban), so surely good old BA must cut it ?

Insurance, roaming, etc. : More Brits visit the USA than Germany, Portugal or Greece. They go there and it’s a different currency, there are no EHIC cards, insurance is expensive, and there are no EU mandated roaming rates. But the hoards travelling to Florida to Disney-something don’t see it as a “nightmare” or stay at home to go to Blackpool. This just highlights the paucity and intellectual bankruptcy of ETOA’s doom spreading.

None of the outlined scenarios (and the other aspects listed in the report) are likely. The simple fact is the ETOA, by setting out a highly unlikely speculative combination of events (without any stated justification)  have joined the group of dishonest organisations which for their own vested interests seek to  frustrate the democratic will of the British people.

Slimy remain MP’s

Rory Steward, a vociferous remainer Tory MP,  is about as ‘establishment’ as it’s possible to imagine. Eton, Balliol, tutor to Prince William, and a diplomat before becoming a politician. It seems grossly unfair of Grumpy to pick on him to make a general point about May supporters, but it was hard to resist the headgear in the photograph.

Grumpy has always been confused where the representational aspects of  an MP’s job specification is concerned. Who do they represent ?

The answer is, of course, whoever it is that suits them to define  in some particular circumstance. They have plenty of choices; “I represent my constituents” / “I have to vote with my conscience” / “It’s incumbent on me to follow the policy of my party” / “MP’s should vote in the National Interest”.  This is just one of the many aspects of MP’s that give them their slippery, slimy aura.

So it is with the key upcoming Brexit  vote on Mrs May’s total capitulation to the EU mandarins. Suddenly MP’s who have in the past declared their immutable attachment for the first three have suddenly had a conversion to consider the populace as a whole.

Regardless of the merits (or otherwise) of the May agreement,  the good Rory and other remainer MP’s are now urging their fellows that accepting the plan unconditionally  is in the ‘National Interest’. ‘No deal’ is  deemed worse than ANY deal. “It’s been agreed” / “It’s too late now to do anything else” seems to be the mantra. Everyone now realises this was a  stitch up by Olly Robbins and his cohorts, managed by May to offer a fait accompli to powerless and spineless parliamentarians.

Grumpy’s take, whatever his views on the agreement per se, is that his innate reaction to ‘take it or leave it deals’ is to leave it. Time has proven it’s always the better way.

May will no doubt discover soon whether 318 MP’s share her view on what is in the National Interest.