Brexit Momentum Dwindling? #FlorenceSpeech #Brexit #VoteLeave #TakeBackControl #ChangeBritain

“Brexit” means Britain’s Exit from the European Union, which is not due to happen until March 2019. Sorry to explain that, but my recent conversations with people show that many think “Brexit has already happened” and can’t understand why more money isn’t being spent on the NHS yet. So, just to be clear: Brexit is in process, but has not yet happened.

Exiting the EU is supposed to be a two-year process. But now Prime Minister Theresa May has set out her plans for a two-year transition deal which is, by any other name, extended temporary membership of the EU. Certainly, it would extend the lifeline for us to backpeddle into the EU. Indeed, the day after the referendum I was already saying that I doubt Brexit will ever even happen. History shows that the EU Fanatics just will not accept “non” for an answer. And that incorrigible EU-phile Lord Heseltine has today, I think rather accurately, said that he not only foresees us not leaving the EU, but actually joining the Euro, too. Indeed, now that we’ve decided to leave, should we change our minds we will have lost all of our opt-outs, including on not joining the Euro; oh yes, the French and Germans will exact a pound of flesh and be out to humble us and lock us in forevermore.

So has the Brexit momentum critically dwindled?

Corbyn has forsaken his principles and Labour have reneged on their Referendum pledge to back Brexit. The Tories are weakened since losing their majority in the General Election. The party which single-handedly got us the referendum (whether you love them or loathe them), UKIP, seems to have had its moment and looks a spent force. The momentum for Brexit, which was the culmination of years of hard, focused pressure, is rapidly fizzling out. Just look at the polling data: the margin of support for Brexit is shrinking.

So, as someone who has spent half my life fighting for Brexit, I am extremely worried by the warning signs of interim deals and such. And with oppression of the Catalans by the Spanish state, and the election of anti-democratic EU fanatic Macron, I fear the future is bleak for European liberal democracy.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

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Hard, Soft, and CLEAN Brexit #Brexit

A brilliant article here which completely sums up my view on the Brexit process. There is no such thing as “hard” and “soft” Brexit in reality. The Leave campaign was based on “taking back control”, and making our own trade deals with the rest of the world, and making the British parliament the ultimate source of power in this land again, and making British law and British judges in British courts being the supreme arbiter of British matters. People complain that nobody knew what they were voting for, but on these points alone it was abundantly clear what people were voting for. And they voted. Yet if we do not leave the single market, the customs union, and the EU’s main legal constructs, then we will not achieve these ends that we voted for. And so, this “soft” Brexit would be no Brexit at all. We need to sink or swim on our own merits as a fully freed nation. And so the only true Brexit is, as the article points out, a “clean” Brexit. That is, a clean break from the EU instruments. Anything else would not achieve the openly stated goals of the leave campaign and would not fulfil the referendum result. Indeed, I could even see us officially rejoining the EU from such a Norway-like model several years down the line — but without our current opt-outs, such as from the Euro. The lie we’d be sold is, ‘Oh, well, the leaving experiment didn’t work out for us, did it?’ when in reality we would only have left in name, not substance, and thus would have been set-up to fail. Leave Euratom or not, perhaps there is a debate to be had there. But there is no debate that Brexit needs to be clean and requires us to leave the single marker, the customs union, and the EU’s main legal constructs.

For what it is worth, in the short run, there may be some instability, and I am sure that in the future there will be times when the UK is relatively stronger and other times when the EU is doing relatively better. But I have no doubt that over the long run, Brexit will be a resounding success which will not only arouse the jealousy and anger of high European Unionistas, but will also be to their eventual benefit — should they let it, and should we give Brexit that fair chance by opting for a “clean” Brexit.

Here’s the article in full in case the website takes it down at some point.

text above this point only © 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2016-10-05-1475670108-7560650-brexit1.jpg

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https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/biggest-problem-soft-brexit-apos-164052679.html

The biggest problem with Soft Brexit is that it’s not attainable

Liam Halligan

The Telegraph16 September 2017

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<img alt=”The Union flag and the EU flag flying from the same mast above the Summerhall building in Edinburgh – PA” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/bQOs1eLsDW69F1id95sxyA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/122ba6583b8d3c46f34cfdb745c3acb5” itemprop=”url”/>

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In the first of two extracts from their new book, Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons say the commonly held belief that Britain would be better off inside the single market and customs union is misconceived

There has been much talk of “Hard Brexit” versus “Soft Brexit”. Such labels are ubiquitous during these Article 50 negotiations – used freely by the broadcast media – yet they are partisan and deeply misleading. Hard Brexit makes leaving the European Union sound extreme and damaging, suggesting isola­tion and a bleak economic future. Soft Brexit, conversely, conveys a comfortable, ongoing relationship with the EU, with Britain still “part of the club”.

Leaving the single market and the customs union isn’t Hard Brexit – even if the name is deliberately coined to sound painful. It is simply Brexit. Staying inside the EU’s two main legal constructs, meanwhile, isn’t a harmonious Soft Brexit. It amounts, instead, to a deliberate and cynical failure to implement the 2016 referendum result.

A political narrative has developed that Britain would clearly be far better off staying inside the single market and customs union. As such, anyone wanting to actually implement Brexit, by leaving both, is seen to be obsessed only with sovereignty and immigration – and prepared for the economy to suffer, as long as they get their way.

Remaining a member of the single market and/or the customs union, in contrast, is presented as an enlightened “Soft Brexit” compromise, a balance between the Leave side’s “hard” ide­ology and Remain campaigners’ common sense. These are the terms of the UK’s Brexit debate, as viewed by much of our political and media class as we enter the autumn of 2017 and these EU negotiations heat up. Yet they are wrong on every level.

Soft-headed

Many Parliamentarians say they “respect the referendum result” but want “Soft Brexit”. Attempting to negotiate such an outcome, though, would seriously damage the UK, the EU and the vital ongoing relationship between them.

Soft Brexit would leave Britain in a dangerous halfway house. Inside the single market, the UK would become a “rule-taker” – still subject to rulings of the highly politicised European Court of Justice. We would be bound by huge restrictions on our economic and political freedom, but no longer able to vote on or influence those rules, even if they were changed to Britain’s disadvantage.

And, of course, single market membership would mean continued multi-billion pound annual payments to Brussels and “freedom of movement”. This isn’t Brexit ­­– and would be viewed by millions of voters as an affront to the referendum result.

The economic benefits of single market “membership” are, anyway, wildly overstated and may even be negative. Membership means all UK firms – including the 95pc that don’t export to the EU – must comply with often unnecessary and expensive EU rules. Also, the single market in services barely exists, despite much rhetoric to the contrary. Many EU nations refuse to drop barriers to imports of certain services – which severely penalises the UK, the world’s second-largest services exporter.

<img alt=”Prime Minister Theresa May – Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/eRwJzIyOMXGlA5R.SS9QNQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/b4abf67a9cafdc8e344f742f012a3ec2” itemprop=”url”/>

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Prime Minister Theresa May Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

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We don’t need to be “in” the single market to trade with the EU. The US conducted almost a quarter of a trillion dollars of EU trade in 2016 from outside – without accepting ECJ jurisdiction, freedom of movement or making large annual payments. The UK can do the same. If Britain cuts an EU free-trade agreement, tariff-free trade can continue.

If not, we can trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules, paying relatively low tariffs – as does the US, China, Japan and every other major non-EU economy.

Since 1999, the share of UK trade with the EU has fallen from 61pc to just over 40pc. If the single market is so good for the UK, why do we trade less with the EU than with the rest of the world? Why is our EU trade shrinking and our non-EU trade expanding? Why do we have a large deficit on our EU trade, but a sizeable surplus on our trade outside the EU?

Being inside the EU’s customs union is also wrongly presented as economic nirvana. Membership means the UK must charge tariffs on non-EU goods. So British shoppers are paying more for a range of imports, including food, often to shield uncompetitive producers in other EU states from cheaper global prices.

And because 80pc of these tariffs are sent to Brussels, and the UK does more non-EU trade than any other EU member, Britain accounts for an unfairly high share of the EU’s combined tariff revenues. Again, this burden is shouldered by consumers.

<img alt=”The UK does more non-EU trade than any other EU member – Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/sVSy5ZFk8B5sO9N4ERPCkw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/138cbbe115793d4a93b8e5d8c2765155” itemprop=”url”/>

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The UK does more non-EU trade than any other EU member Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

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Customs union membership also prevents Britain from striking trade deals with nations outside the EU – countries accounting for four-fifths of the global economy. This is a serious disadvantage for the UK, given our deep cultural and historic links with a wide variety of nations. As the global centre of economy gravity shifts decisively east, it is vital for the our future prosperity that Britain engages more with the world’s fastest-growing and most populous markets.

Outside the customs union, the UK is no longer part of the EU’s trade deals with various nations – often presented as a huge sacrifice. Over the 60 years since the EU was founded, though, Brussels has failed to cut a deal with any of the world’s top economies. The EU has no trade agreement with the US, China, India or Japan. (The recent, very preliminary agreement with Tokyo was little more than a press release). The EU’s 50 or so trade deals cover less than 10pc of the global economy, being mostly with tiny countries.

The EU is not well placed to negotiate trade agreements, comprising of numerous member states, often with conflicting objectives. The deals it has struck have also generally favoured French agricultural and German manufacturing exports, rather than UK services. Nations acting alone – such as Switzerland, Singapore and South Korea – have secured far more important trade deals, covering a much bigger share of the global economy, than has the EU.

In 2013, Switzerland struck a trade deal with China after three years of talks – the UK can do the same. Far from being “at the back of the queue”, Britain is well-placed to reach an agreement with the US. And India has shown great interest in a UK trade deal. The sizeable nations that do have EU trade agreements – including Mexico, South Africa and South Korea – have also indicated they want UK-equivalent agreements, providing an opportunity for Britain to modify existing agreements to our advantage.

While Soft Brexit is often presented as liberal and progressive, the single market promotes the interests of producers over consumers while entrenching the advantages of large corporations – which are far better able than smaller rivals to handle the complex regulation. Freedom of movement rules provide big firms with a ready stream of cheap, easily exploitable labour, while suppressing the wages of the UK’s most financially insecure workers. The single market also facilitates large-scale corporate tax avoidance.

The customs union, meanwhile, is a bad deal for UK consumers. On top of that, the EU’s tariff wall, particularly on agricultural goods, combined with the ghastly Common Agricultural Policy, severely hinders the development of many of the world’s poorest countries.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Soft Brexit is that it is unobtainable. Back in December 2016, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: “The single market and its four freedoms are indivisible – cherry-picking is not an option.” Yet this is precisely what the Soft Brexiteers are attempting, breaching EU rules by seeking single market membership along with a special dispensation from freedom of movement that no other country has.

That’s why “Soft Brexit” will actually end up being “Messy Brexit”. Pushing for this outcome puts the UK in direct and absolute conflict with the EU’s core principles – which, if seriously breached, could tear the bloc apart, as others demand the same deal. The most likely Soft Brexit outcome would be a diplomatic stand-off, along with chronic uncertainty for citizens, investors and businesses, risking serious economic and political damage.

<img alt=”A pro-Brexit demonstration outside parliament – Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/tXQmEjm9XKb5FAHp2gsz1Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/3b2232c1c12b909a3ed3168ec2189de3” itemprop=”url”/>

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A pro-Brexit demonstration outside parliament Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire

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In late July 2017, this point was made with devastating clarity by Fabian Zuleeg, a policy analyst closely linked to the European Commission.

“What is missing in these discussions is a real appreciation of the view from the other side of the Channel,” said Zuleeg. “Allowing cherry-picking of benefits would act as a signal to others that a Europe à la carte is obtainable, opening the Pandora’s box of disintegration.”

That’s why Theresa May did the right thing in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017 – confirming from the outset that Britain wants to leave both the single market and customs union. We call this approach “Clean Brexit”.

This allows the UK quickly to take control of sensitive issues relating to our borders, laws and trade – because we are not negotiating over such issues in a bid to stay inside any EU legal construct. Knowing we will be outside both the single market and customs union from the outset also gives Britain time to prepare ahead of March 2019 when we leave the EU – creating new facilities for cross-Channel customs clearance, for instance.

By avoiding cherry-picking, Clean Brexit is better for Britain, the EU and their broader relationship – with the UK not trying to upend EU rules, increasing the chances of ongoing UK-EU co-operation across a range of headings. Soft Brexit, in contrast, attempting to trade off single market membership against freedom of movement rules, would maximise “cliff-edge” dangers and business uncertainty – and could result in a disastrous diplomatic stalemate, while risking a systemic crisis.

A strong hand

Despite widespread negativity, the UK has a strong hand to play in these Article 50 negotiations. Our £69bn EU trade deficit represents profits and jobs across tens of thousands of EU firms. Germany ran a UK goods surplus of £32bn in 2016. Powerful business interests have much to lose if Britain imposes tariffs on such exports. The BDI German employers’ union says it would be “very, very foolish” for the EU to impose high trade barriers against the UK. BDI represents around 100,000 companies, employing one fifth of the workforce.

France is sometimes portrayed as wanting to “punish” the UK for leaving the EU. President Macron has described Brexit as a “crime”, vowing to take an uncompromising approach to deter other member states from “killing the European idea”. Yet, for French farmers and winemakers, the UK is a huge market. Numerous French firms, and the French government itself, have strong commercial interests in Britain, with investments across sectors including transport, automotive manufacturing and nuclear power. The Netherlands will also want a zero-tariff deal with Britain so Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, remains a UK trade hub.

While European president Jean-Claude Juncker beats his chest and issues fiery rhet­oric, influential business groups are determined to limit trade restrictions between the UK and the Continent. By declaring Clean Brexit, maintaining we’ll be outside the single market and the customs union, Britain benefits from powerful EU business lobbies urging their governments to strike a favourable UK trade deal, know­ing they’ll otherwise face reciprocated WTO tariffs.

<img alt=”European president Jean-Claude Juncker – Credit: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/jjzUcPLUS3eXe8YimbPYig–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/homerun/the_telegraph_818/3c6e11d1ae7423e0640cfcf66dc6c6b5” itemprop=”url”/>

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European president Jean-Claude Juncker Credit: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

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Ideally, the UK will agree what Theresa May has described as a “deep and comprehensive” EU free trade deal during the Article 50 period. Yet, settling a complex, multi-sector agreement with 27 governments, which must then be ratified by national parliaments and the European parliament, is probably impossible ahead of March 2019. That’s why the UK must prepare to trade under WTO rules, reoccupying our seat at the Geneva-based trade court and adopting our own tariff schedules.

Trading under WTO rules is often portrayed as a disaster. Yet most trade across the globe is conducted largely under WTO rules. The US and other leading economies trade with the EU on this basis, with each side paying tariffs that are generally very low. As such, it is by no means essential for the UK to strike a free-trade agreement with the EU ahead of March 2019. Failing to grasp this amounts to a major strategic error.

“No deal really is better than a bad deal.” The UK should state this clearly and often. “No deal” simply means we don’t strike an EU free trade agreement before March 2019 – which actually brings benefits. Under “no deal”, Britain’s EU trade deficit would generate substantial net tariff revenues, which could be used to compensate UK exporters.

More fundamentally, negotiating up against a hard deadline means the terms of any resulting agreement, which we must live with for years, would be far worse than a deal settled under less time pressure – once the Article 50 deadline has passed. Unless “no deal” is seen as a viable option, though, the UK’s negotiating hand will be seriously undermined – so all preparations must be made now to trade under WTO rules.

WTO rules are portrayed as “crashing out of the EU” to pressure the UK to accept an unfavourable trade deal before Article 50 expires. Yet “no deal” is an entirely coherent position and satisfactory outcome for Britain. Trading under WTO rules will provide a platform to strike a better long-term EU trade agreement, on our terms and in our own time, after Brexit has happened. The EU has even more incentive to do that than Britain, given its large UK trade surplus.

Accepting “no deal” on trade is not the same as “just walking away” – which means failing to settle administrative issues such as the mutual recognition agreements on goods that facilitate trade. No one is advocating this. It is unthinkable that existing and uncontroversial EU protocols granted to countless other non-EU members would not apply to the UK, not least as we leave the EU fully compliant. For Brussels to deny Britain such rights would breach both WTO and EU law, while incensing EU businesses and voters by threatening billions of euros of profit and countless EU jobs.

The UK will, of course, continue to trade and collaborate with the EU ex­tensively after Brexit. Complaints that we are “cutting ourselves off” or “pulling up the drawbridge” are infantile and absurd. With a hung parliament, though, and the Conservatives vulnerable in the Commons and the Lords, the Soft Brexiteers sense this is their moment.

Far from “respecting the referendum result”, they are promoting an unobtainable outcome and sowing parliamentary chaos. Their aim is nothing less than to reverse the June 2016 referendum and, in doing so, topple the Government.

‘Clean Brexit – How to make a success of leaving the EU’ by Liam Halligan and Gerard Lyons is published by Biteback Publishing at £20.00. To order your copy visit books.telegraph.co.uk

European Athletics Council to Wipe World Records from the History Books @JDE66 @paulajradcliffe @ColinJackson @Steve_Backley #IAAF #Athletics

In 1995, I won the gold medal for the long jump at Borough Sports. This is the big, yearly, borough-wide sports competition with children competing from all local schools. 1995 also saw Jonathan Edwards break the 60 foot barrier in the triple jump. His leap has still not been bested. Edwards was my idol.

As a ten year old, and I say this with no exaggeration at all, that single hop, skip, jump has become one of the fundamental formative moments of my whole childhood and life. A golden memory, a moment where I was forever touched by the magic of sport and the heights that humans can climb.

Yet now, the European Athletics Council have suggested wiping all world records from before 2005. This would rub Edwards’ moment of magic out — as it would many other magnificent achievements, such as Mike Powell’s 1991 long jump world record which has also stood the test of time.

As Edwards has said, he always knew his record would go one day — he just didn’t expect it would be to administrators!

There are many things wrong with this policy. They have all been expertly articulated by many great athletes such as Colin Jackson, Steve Backley, Paula Radcliffe, and Jonathan Edwards: all legendary British athletes who will lose their records due to pen pushers. There’s no point rehashing their arguments — but to say that this proposal, whilst of noble intention, is wrong-headed and will harm the sport in the end.

But on a personal note, I feel like I’m being robbed of precious childhood memories. Athletics was a rare joy in my life, and those golden moments have shaped me. None more so than that magical hop, skip, and jump in Stockholm — something I’d write off as legend, if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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London Terror Attack 22/03/2017 #WeAreNotAfraid

London has always been attacked by terrorists. We know that. But this never has, nor ever will, stop us leading our lives freely. I can say hand-on-heart: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

The SNP are Opportunistic Scum @theSNP @NicolaSturgeon #IndyRef2

… the SNP and Scotland are not the same thing …

I am a unionist … but I am a democrat above all else … if Scotland wanted to leave the UK, then it is undeniably right that they should leave … Yet now demonstrably is not the time for another referendum.

I’ve lost all respect for the Scottish National Party. They are acting like opportunistic, hateful scum. None-the-less, I still 100% respect the idea of Scottish Independence; let’s not conflate the SNP and Scotland, as if they were the same thing, even though Sturgeon and her motley crew keep trying to blur the distinction.

I want to be clear about something.

Yes, I am a unionist and believe that the four nations of the UK are better off together. However, I am a democrat above all else. And even though it would break my heart, if Scotland wanted to leave the UK, then it is undeniably right that they should leave, although I would bid them adieu with a tear and a friendly handshake. See my posts about the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum for more about my views.

But now demonstrably is not the time for another referendum. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon talks about the “democratic outrage” of not being allowed to hold another independence reference by 2018-2019. But I think the only outrage is her behaviour and that of other SNP top brass.

Let’s get real.

  1. The official logic of a 2018-2019 Scottish Referendum is that Scotland will remain in the EU if it leaves the UK before the UK leaves the EU. However, this “logic” is horseshit and has been repeatedly shot down by everyone in the EU. The United Kingdom has membership of the EU, and Scotland would not inherit the UK’s membership. Therefore, Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU even if it seceded from the UK but the rest of the UK remained in!
  2. Scotland knew that there would be an EU referendum and therefore knew that if it voted to remain in the UK, there would be the very real possibility that that would mean leaving the EU. Therefore, material circumstances haven’t changed in quite the way the SNP claim.
  3. It is plainly absurd for any Scottish Independence Referendum to be held before (1) we had left the EU, and (2) before the dust had settled. The SNP said this referendum was once in a lifetime; what, the lifetime of a gerbil? Wait for the UK to leave, and for the dust to settle, and then the Westminster government should be totally open to a new referendum.
  4. I wonder, though, if the SNP would be pressing for a second referendum in 2018-2019 if Scotland had voted to leave the UK… you know, just to make sure — after all, Brexit means circumstances have changed…
  5. The UK got opt-outs, and Sweden et al joined way back when. Any new member of the EU would have to adopt the Euro. Sorry, but that’s a fact. An “independent” Scotland in the EU would also be in the Euro.
  6. I still cannot grasp the fundamental logic of the SNP position, in any case: being 8% of the population of the UK, with 9% of the seats in the Commons, and one of four member states, is worse than what would be 1% of the population of the EU, with around 1.6% of the seats, and one of 28 member states…!!? This smacks of serious anti-English bias in the SNP leadership (not amongst members, though, who are mostly just patriotic Scots, not English-haters).

In short, the Scots are a nation and not a county of England — as Alex Salmond absurdly recently claimed is the opinion of those against doing IndyRef2 in the SNP’s timeframe of 2018-2019. And thus, they have absolutely the moral right to another referendum. Luckily, the UK government is more enlightened than, say, the Spanish government, and we’re happy to give a binding referendum to Scotland. But this timeframe of 2018-2019 is absurd. It is political opportunism. Let’s wait until the next parliament. If there is wide enough support for another referendum, then let’s crack on with Indy Ref 2!

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Elected House of Lords? @electoralreform #electoralreform #lordsreform #sortition

The Electoral Reform Society and others claim that we need an elected upper house in order to be fully democratic. But I say that they have confused democracy with vote-ocracy.

Today’s papers are full of a periodic favourite: how the House of Lords needs to be reformed. Reports of one peer who left a taxi waiting whilst he went inside just to sign in for his £300 daily expenses only to then nip off again in his taxi (!) have (re)surfaced. The Electoral Reform Society, who I largely agree with and support, have called for an elected House of Lords.

But I disagree.

The House of Lords is a total mess. No doubt. Packed with cronies, those with conflicts of interest (taking EU pensions whilst voting on whether we should leave the EU!), and lazy sods who turn up for their dole. The place is an anachronism. And it’s a great pity that Labour could not finish the reform job they started in 1997; if they had prepared for government a bit more, maybe they would have.

But electing members of the Lords is not the solution. In fact, it would make things worse.

Why replicate the elected Commons? Why have yet more elected careerist politicians?

The Electoral Reform Society and others claim that we need an elected upper house in order to be fully democratic. But I say that they have confused democracy with vote-ocracy.

If not an elected Lords, then what?

The Lords is supposed to be a politically neutral, disinterested, body of wise counsellors, who have no vested interests, who are not career politicians, and who act as a sober check on any possible elected dictatorship of the Commons. But how to get such a House?

Clearly, elections corrupt the system and invariably lead to politicising. Not merely my words and thoughts, those of the founding fathers of the US. The ancient Athenians and Romans knew this, too, which is why leading figures were selected by sortition (out of a hat, as it were, like jurors are nowadays) and were limited to a single one-year term.

Thus, there are intricacies involved in reform, but I put forward the following as a sound basis.

  1. There should be far fewer Lords than there are MPs in the Commons. But currently there are 805 Lords and 650 MPs. I propose to cut the number of Lords to around half the number of MPs, let’s say around 300.
  2. Lords should not be elected (barring e.g. the Bishops), and should either serve life terms, very long one-off terms, or very short terms. Perhaps all three depending.
  3. Lords must forsake any political allegiance or conflicting interests as the Speaker of the Commons does.
  4. Around half or more (two-thirds? three-quarters?) of the Lords will be chosen by sortition (like jury duty) from a pool of eligible persons who have not opted out, representing equally the leading minds in all key disciplines such as science, technology, business, the arts, philanthropy, and so on. Such individuals should serve long single-terms/lifelong terms.
  5. Most of the left-over minority of the Lords should be chosen by nomination by the political parties in proportion to the seats they have in the Commons and for a single term, perhaps the length of the next parliament, no party in the Commons having fewer than one appointee in the Lord. For example, if 100 seats were to be made available this way, the Conservatives would nominate around 51 members, Labour around 36, the SNP around 8, the LibDems, UKIP, Greens and so on 1 each, all based on their current seats in the Commons.
  6. There should be an even smaller number (around half of the nominees) who are selected by sortition from the public at large, after having met various qualifications, and who should serve single one-year terms.
  7. The 26 Lords Spiritual should keep their seats.
  8. The 90 hereditary peers should keep their seats until they all die. Their seats will not be handed on. Eventually, there will be no hereditary peers left.

This sort of thing seems like a reasonable compromise which would achieve what we want of the Lords — and most importantly, doesn’t confuse vote-ocracy with democracy.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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The Electoral College #NotMyPresident

electoralcollege2016_svg

So Donald Trump is the new President of the United States of America. I am not happy at all. Don’t get me wrong! I didn’t support Hilary Clinton either. What a choice(!) One Twitter user likened it to having to choose between which STD you want.

I’m actually British. But I’ve followed every US election since I was 16 years old (the 2000 election). Something weird is going on, though, and I know I’m not the only one who this has been happening to…

HOW I WOULD HAVE VOTED
2016

Clinton vs. Trump. I choose… neither!

But my favourite candidate in the primaries was RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN, even though I had some misgivings. I would have voted for him over Clinton. HOWEVER, my second favourite candidate from the primaries: BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRAT. I would’ve voted for him over Trump or Clinton.

So, I’m a Republican, or a Democrat, but 100% would vote for neither Clinton or Trump. WTH?

2012
Obama vs. Romney. 100% OBAMA. I’m not actually a big fan of his, even though he’s dreamy and hawt. Romney was simply a sociopathic scumbag zealot. For example, I’ll never forget when a man in a wheelchair asked Romney why medical marijuana should be illegal even though it literally was the only thing making his life bearable, and Romney’s facial expressions and dismissiveness just spoke a 1000 words to his character.

But my favourite candidate in the primaries was, once again, a REPUBLICAN, RON PAUL.

2008
Obama vs. McCain (and Palin). I mean, WTF? Remember McCain and Palin and how we thought that was a parody? Wow. So yeah, OBAMA all the way for me!

But again, weirdly, for the third election on the trot, my favourite candidate overall was a REPUBLICAN, RON PAUL.

2004
Bush vs. Kerry. Not a fan of Kerry, but this was definitely lesser of two evils. 100% KERRY!

SO…. WOULD I BE A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN IF I WAS AMERICAN?
Well, in the four elections that I could have voted in if I was an American, out of the two candidates we ended up with, I would have voted:

Democrats 3 – 0 Republicans (1 spoiled ballot)

Yet if you could vote for any of the candidates in the primaries, I would have voted:

Democrats 1 – 3 Republicans

So…. that makes me a Republocrat? How effed up is that??

REPUBLOCRATS
I always use the term “Republocrats” to disparagingly describe the American System. Bluntly, if I was a yank, I would always vote Libertarian if I had the option. Which isn’t a surprise considering my favourite candidates have been Ron Paul 2008 (former Libertarian presidential candidate), erm, Ron Paul 2012 model, and, errrrr, Rand Paul 2016 (son of Ron Paul, former Libertarian presidential candidate).

REFORM?
Considering the Prez can’t get anything done unless the houses agree. And considering the presidential race is totally absurd: I mean, depending on which way we slice it, I’m either a Republican or a Democrat! I’m not the only one. Why not just have the President, and the President alone, elected by nationwide popular vote?

Upsides to this idea:

  1. It would encourage people to vote the way they really want, knowing their vote will count, instead of voting tactically to contract the clap instead of the pox.
  2. It would allow “third party” candidates and independents to stand a real chance and to help shape the national debate.
  3. It would encourage people who didn’t get their party’s nomination, but who are massively popular, to stand as independents.
  4. Al Gore would have won in 2000! And that argument alone clinches it, I think. [Clinton would also have beat Trump on this basis]

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#/media/File:ElectoralCollege2016.svg By Gage – 2012 Electoral College map, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35172210

Donald Bigly Trump

Donald Trump

Today Trump said: Hillary wants to raise taxes big league.

Trump needs to stop saying blah blah blah BIG LEAGUE. Because I keep hearing it as “BIGLY”. Which is weird. And I thought the phrase was “Major League”, anyway, like Dubya’s “Major League Asshole“. Luckily, after tomorrow I won’t need to hear it ever again. Unless… :-O That’s what’s really at stake in this election. Oh yeah, and Trump’s weird hand gestures, and Clinton’s incessant smiling, head bobble, and pointing and waving. The issues that really count.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3176536/images/o-DONALD-TRUMP-facebook.jpg

EU Referendum: You Can NEVER Leave Us! (Summary) @THATGINAMILLER #RESPECTTHERESULT #BREXIT

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Just in case my article-cum-essay was too much to read, here is the long and short of it.

  • The High Court says we cannot leave the EU without a vote in Parliament.
  • The overwhelming majority of MPs are against us leaving the EU.
  • Therefore, they will block, delay, or water down the terms of our leaving, e.g., we will have to keep open borders “freedom of movement” and paying our dues.
  • The result: either we won’t leave at all, or will leave in name only but not in effect.

And so, like I said in my article just days after the EU referendum, we will never meaningfully leave the EU!

So yes, we’ve been had again folks. The EU and its supporters simply will not let you quit. And just as voodoo pharmacology has it, once you’ve taken a hit of that sweet, sweet EU pipe, it’s hard to want to quit it anyway; that’s why the people will find it hard to summon the will to vote for freedom in the case of a second referendum

Let me sign off with this quote from Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, on the 2005 French vote on the EU Constitution:

If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go’, and if it’s a No, we will say, ‘We Continue’

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_large/public/thumbnails

EU Referendum: You Can NEVER Leave Us! @thatginamiller #RespectTheResult #Brexit

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Just like a victim of vampirism, once bitten by the seductive bloodsucker that is the European Union, it seems you are left forever changed, unable to leave the sanguivorous circle and enter daylight again. I am of course referring to the ruling by the British High Court that the British Government cannot just go ahead, trigger Article 50, and make the UK leave the EU. Rather, the justices have decided that Parliament must vote. This is despite the fact that the British people have already voted to leave the EU! This decision therefore leaves Brexit very much hanging in the balance.

The motley crew who brought this case before the High Court have said that the referendum was only “advisory”, whereas others in the past have been binding. Therefore, their argument was that it is unconstitutional for the Government to simply have us leave the EU without a vote in Parliament. However, this view is complete tosh. Due to the famed Parliamentary Sovereignty that self-professedly underpins the campaigners’ case, erm, Parliament is sovereign. Therefore, all popular votes are advisory, not just this one. That includes General Elections: the parliamentarian who thinks they have the best ability to form a government, which is generally the leader of the party winning the most seats in the Commons, seeks an audience with the Monarch and asks to form a government. The Queen is merely advised; she doesn’t have to accept any of it.

Now you might scoff and say I’m being a bit far-fetched. But I’m not at all. The principle is exactly the same. Any and all votes are “advisory”. Trying to paint only this referendum as merely advisory is dishonest and misses the point. But the real point is that the people made their decision with the understanding that it would be “respected”, that is implemented, and therefore it’s not fair to try and slip out of it with this legal trickery. Thus, to make the will of the people come into effect, the Government desires to use the Royal Prerogative to force it through (as MPs are overwhelmingly against Brexit and so may block it and because the people have authorised the Government to do this); much like an “executive order” in the United States. Thereby giving effect to the will of the people by using executive powers ultimately derived from the crown (aka Her Maj)– the theoretical source of all sovereignty in our system. Y’see, “Parliament” isn’t the same as “The House of Commons”. The Commons voted for the referendum, presumably to delegate its responsibilities in this regard directly to the people; after all, the MPs in the Commons are only there because we delegated day-to-day running of the nation to them. The power of MPs derives from our consent.

But you know what, that is only my interpretation. I’m not a lawyer.   The High Court judges are more expert than me. And perhaps they’ll be proven right. The Government is appealing to the Supreme Court, which may of course back the High Court. It may equally overturn the High Court’s decision. So we shall we see whether lay political activists like me are right, or whether it is the top legal minds of the High Court. But bear in mind that the High Court in Northern Ireland only last week backed the Government’s position!

Yet all this bleating about the “unconstitutionality” of the Government taking us out of the EU, in accordance with the wishes of the British people as expressed in the 23rd of June referendum, really makes me laugh. After all, when since was any of the EU project constitutional? For example, how was the Maastricht Treaty (1993) constitutional when it made me the citizen of a foreign state, the EU!? Imagine if it had made us citizens of Russia, China, or even a sensible country like Canada; everyone would see how unconstitutional that is. I mean, it violates one of the most fundamental parts of our constitution, which MPs and the Monarch are sworn to uphold, The Bill of Rights (1688), by giving us, yes, all the privileges and rights of EU citizenship, but all the responsibilities, current and future, as well. Indeed, one could argue that the whole edifice of the EU violates the constitution, particularly given that we never consented to any of it. Oh wait, “I” consented in 1975… when my Mum was 17 years old and I was minus nine. Yeah… But more on this in an upcoming post.

And I doe declare That noe Forreigne Prince Person Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Preeminence or Authoritie Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme Soe helpe me God.

The Bill of Rights (1688)

But anyway, NONE OF THIS SORRY SITUATION IS A SURPRISE TO ME. Just after the referendum, I said that the MO of the European Union is to ignore the wishes of the people. I said that I think Brexit will never happen. By hook or crook, the political elites try and make nations go along with it. They’ve done it again and again and again and again.

Either Parliament will water down Brexit so as to be fairly meaningless, e.g., still signed up to the freedom of movement, paying into the EU, and so on. This of course leaves the door open to easily becoming “full” members again in a decade or so.

Or Parliament will delay and delay until the momentum and political will fizzles out. And so neither “soft” nor “hard” Brexit occur.

And/or there will be a second vote, if need be. And second votes are always won by the EU (and there have been quite a few; check it out!). Why?

  1. The people who never usually vote, the silent majority who come out and say “NO MORE!” to the EU, tend to go back to being even more disillusioned than ever and not voting second time round.
  2. Those who do normally vote are so demoralised that many don’t vote in the second vote, and most of the others who do vote have no campaigning zeal left, so disheartened are they.
  3. The momentum is with the EU, and the anti-EU side is on the ropes.
  4. Increased time, money, and propaganda helps sway a few more people.

Indeed, polls are already beginning to suggest that “Brexit” might narrowly lose a second referendum.

We don’t know how this will pan out. But I’ll just leave you with this quote from Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, on the 2005 French vote on the EU Constitution:

If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go’, and if it’s a No, we will say, ‘We Continue’

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

Text of the 1688 Bill of Rights: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/WillandMarSess2/1/2/introduction

featured image from https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_large/public/thumbnails