Term-time holiday dad loses court battle @tfa4freedom #Libertarianism #NannyState

The UK Supreme Court has decided that parents are not allowed to take their own children on holiday during school term time regardless of the child’s overall attendance, punctuality and attainment rates, or the needs of the family.

This sounds kind of reasonable, right? Surely, we need to protect kids from neglectful parents who harm their children by not giving enough regard to their educational attainment. However, bookings and flights are much more expensive during the school holidays. Many parents simply cannot afford these prices. Therefore, parents will often choose to miss some days of school, opting for a term-time holiday, than have their child miss no school time but perhaps forfeiting a holiday altogether. Yet even with this fine, it will still often be cheaper to take children on holiday out of term. Well, for wealthier parents, that is. What this fine means is that many poorer parents will not be able to have a holiday at all as they are less able to afford to pay the fine or the premium non-term time prices.

This is an outrageous decision. I grew up on a council estate, my parents were literally too poor to afford nappies. The only holiday I ever had from age 0-20 was when when I was 12, and it was paid for by people other than my parents. I never even went on these one-off school trips to places like Wales. I know the stress that no time away, no R & R, can have in a family and on school grades.

Sure, Mr Platt, the parent at the centre of this court case, isn’t trapped on a council estate like I was, but this decision applies to everyone. The decision is morally wrong for two fundamental reasons.

1. If a child’s attendance, punctuality, and attainment are otherwise good — that is, the child is being well cared for by their parents –, this ruling still does not allow parents to manage their children as they see fit. As it has been put today, parents must seek permission from the headmaster. This is a disgraceful decision, incredibly statist, and goes against the longstanding established liberal British and common sense mindset. It’s well-known that regular breaks from work or study yield greater periods of productivity.

2. It has been stated that taking kids out of school hampers the individual kid and their classmates from getting good GCSE graces due to the disruption caused. Well, you know what also hampers good GCSE grades? Tired, stressed, fatigued parents and children who don’t go on holiday or who can only holiday through excessive sacrifice in other areas. Trust me, I know.

It also needs to be said that GCSE attainment is far from the be-all-and-end-all of, well, anything. Lasting bonding time, fond memories, and a stress-free body will stand the child in good stead. That one holiday I took left me with more good memories, love for my family, and a rounded outlook than all the good GCSE grades I ultimately got. GCSEs have got me nowhere; when you’ve got A Levels, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, that’s what counts.

This case just goes to show that even in our fair, rational, and outstandingly excellent legal system, atrocious decisions are made which affect peoples lives badly.

Note: I wrote this post at the time when this story came out, but I suffered an enforced hiatus from posting. However, whilst Mr. Platt’s story is no longer current, the issue which it refers to is still relevant. Thus, I have decided it’s still very much worth posting.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39504338

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Brexit, A Second Referendum, and Double Jeopardy @juliahb1 #Brexit

Many opponents of Brexit (which I am sure you know refers to Britain exiting the European Union) say that we the British people should get a second vote, just to make sure that we still want to leave. Such people include former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major. After all, we voted almost two years ago, and so much has changed since then. This proposed second vote would specifically be based on the yet-to-be-agreed final deal that the Government is currently trying to negotiate with the EU. If we the people don’t like the final deal, then we the people should have the right to change our minds. After all, they say, isn’t that the essence of democratic choice? If we don’t like a particular politician we’ve voted in, we can always vote them out again come the next election. So why shouldn’t we be able to change our mind about this too? It is the supporters of Brexit who, despite their cries about “democracy”, are the true anti-democrats.

Well, that’s how heavyweight remain supporters such as Alistair Campbell, John Major, Tony Blair, Kenneth Clarke, and, err, Femi Oluwole have it.

But this view, despite being superficially highly convincing, is nonsense.

Firstly, their analogy is flawed; when we elect a politician, we don’t then have a second vote to see if we really do want them to be elected. Rather, the politician is in fact elected. Likewise, Brexit should in fact happen. Sure, if we change our minds at a future date, we should be free to try to reapply to the EU. And in fact, we would be free to reapply. Just as we would be free to not re-elect that politician.

Secondly, as I pointed out in my 26th June 2016 blog post, where I predict a second referendum and that the UK would never leave the EU, the people are almost never asked if they want to go along with the ever-closer union and integration. Former Prime Minister John Major, who is so shrill in claiming democracy requires a second EU referendum, never gave his own parliamentary party, let alone the people, a free vote on the Maastricht Treaty, the treaty which created so much of what is now the EU. Indeed, he insisted on brutal discipline to get the vote through parliament, including secretly flying in hospitalised MPs and making them vote his way(!), famously calling his few uncowed parliamentary opponents “bastards”. (As a point of interest, the Maastricht Treaty and the atrocious way Major handled the whole thing, directly resulted in the formation of UKIP.) Second votes are apparently only required when things don’t goes John Major’s way.

Indeed, when the people are from time to time asked, they almost invariably vote against the European Project. Yet they are always asked to vote a second time, just to make sure. And of course, with the right pressure and scare-mongering, they unfailingly return a vote in favour of the EU.

I’ve gotten into arguments with people who don’t understand why the people changing their minds in a second vote or a second vote at all would for me constitute an egregious violation of democracy. The best analogy I can give is to the famous legal rule of “double jeopardy”.

Double jeopardy states that an individual cannot be tried again for the same or similar offence on the same or similar evidence once acquitted. The logic is that, if they could be tried again, they would never truly be free or be able to live freely or in peace. Why not? Because the powers that be could simply try the individual again and again and again and again, grinding the defendant’s willpower, money, and life into the dust, until he is no longer able to fight back, and/or until a judge or jury can be found who would find in favour of the prosecution.

Yes, whilst it might sense to try the defendant again if new evidence comes to light, the rule of double jeopardy is clearly in fact one of the greatest tools defending individual liberty. Or at least, it was, until 2003 when the Labour government of Tony Blair and his henchman Alistair Campbell went a long way to “abrogating”, that is, removing, this ancient liberty.

And perhaps that is why Blair, Campbell, and all their ilk don’t understand why a second vote would be undemocratic. They simply don’t buy into the notion of democracy, even though they probably think that they do; rather, they buy into the Aristotelian and continental European view,  that the plebs are too stupid to know what’s good for themselves, and only an elite Philosopher-King, or a committee version thereof, is able to rule the people and thereby allow the people to be free by preventing them from allowing their own plebbish baseness to cause harm to themselves. Like children, we should be free, but like children, if allowed total freedom, we would soon end ourselves. Yet this is the very opposite of democracy.

But to the rest of us, trying an acquitted person again and again and again, is a flagrant abuse of freedom. And to get the people to vote again, but this time the “right way”, is an equal abuse. We voted to leave knowing that, whilst there were countless ramifications to that decision — just as there are when we vote in any referendum or election –, we would in fact leave.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

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

Brexit, The Deal, and the EU’s Long Game #Brexit

I’ll keep this to the point.

If the UK does not fully leave the Customs Union (CU), the Single Market (SM), and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), then the UK will not be able to take back control of our borders, our laws, and our trade deals. We’ll be a vassal of the EU. And in ten years’ time when Brexit has not worked out well due to our being hamstrung from the get-go, I fear that enough of the people will buy the hype that we will be sold: that we never should have left the EU.

I saw one person on Twitter deride Brexiteers saying that, ‘when Brexit fails, you guys will say what all the old communists said after the USSR failed: “but they didn’t do it right!”‘. There is a grain of truth in this, except this 140 character journalist got one thing wrong. Even though I oppose communism, the USSR didn’t actually do it right: Marx and Engels were clear that Communism would only work if the society evolved through and past capitalism, but would fail if a society “jumped” a social stage. Well, the USSR did indeed jump from agricultural straight into communism, by-passing capitalism. Likewise, if we are not free to pursue our own path 100% freely, whether that path be Corbynistic Commie Heaven, or a Singapore-on-the-Thames style tax haven, or anything in between, then Brexit will fail.

I think the EU supporters, within and without our nation, are playing the long game here. They know that the semblance of a true Brexit, coupled with things not working out as well as we would like, plus another 8 years or so of EU influence and propaganda, will soften up the pro-Brexit side to the point where, they reckon, we will be begging to rejoin the EU — on any terms. And that means joining the Euro. We’ll be nothing but a non-sovereign state, a Mississippi or an Idaho.

We cannot take our eye off the ball. And if our generally useless leaders succeed in giving us a true Brexit, then I foresee most hardcore remainers ten years from now, claiming, ‘Well, I was never really anti-Brexit; I always knew it was going to work out’. But we must make sure that we leave the CU, the SM, and the ECJ.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

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

How North Korean’s Regimes WILL Fall

So, this article about recent* goings-on in North Korea has got me a thinking.

My cod assessment: the North Korean regimes will in fact fall in my lifetime. Why? As the article points out, all capable people are being replaced with toadies. Being chosen on their toady-ness means they are likely less capable. Less capable suck-ups are people who are less able and likely less willing to challenge the boss. This leads to a cycle of incompetence which ultimately leads to fall of the regime. This is has happened time and again throughout history.

So you heard it here first. North Korea, with its current ruling family, will fall in the twenty-first century, no doubt; probably by 2050 or so.

[UPDATE] I had this short post saved since February 2017; current events in Korea are making my “2050” look more like “20:50 Friday evening”.

[UPDATE 2] *This post is a year old and I just never posted it. Even though it is no longer topical. it probably will be again soon, knowing North Korea. And I hate to have drafts hanging about. So I’m posting it.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea#/media/File:Flag_of_North_Korea.svg

 

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

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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The Union flag and the EU flag flying from the same mast above the Summerhall building in Edinburgh – PA

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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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