Author Topic: Various bits re Brexit and Economics  (Read 21678 times)


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #90 on: May 14, 2019, 09:49:17 AM »

Senior Tories press May to abandon Brexit deal talks with Labour 
With a poll yesterday suggesting the Brexit party is on course to get more than three times as many votes in next week’s European elections as the Conservatives, one senior Tory has called for the two parties to form a pact at the next general election. This is what Crispin Blunt, a former chair of the foreign affairs committee, told Newsnight last night.


In my judgment, we are going to have to come to an accommodation with the Brexit party. The Conservatives, as a Brexit party again, being very clear about their objectives, are almost certainly going to have to go into some kind of electoral arrangement with the Brexit party, otherwise Brexit doesn’t happen.

Blunt said his preference would be for a pact involving the Tories standing in the seats they hold, and the Brexit party standing in all the other seats. He claimed that, if they united, the two parties could win handsomely.


Listen to what Nigel Farage said; he would “do a deal with the devil” to get Brexit over the line. The Conservative party is very far from being the devil in this. Eighty per cent of the membership of the Conservative party are very keen to make sure that Brexit happens, will be in a position to enthusiastically support leaving the European Union with no deal. If we are then able to agree a position to put to the country, I think we would hit the ball out of the park.


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #91 on: May 23, 2019, 08:20:28 AM »

Life after Theresa May fraught with danger for DUP
Renewing pact with hard Brexit leader would see it blamed for ensuring chaos in North
about 3 hours ago
Newton Emerson

There is no choice but to marvel at the confluence of complications now imminent in UK politics, the punchline to which will be the DUP-Conservative confidence-and-supply agreement.
British prime minister Theresa May has promised to bring her EU withdrawal bill to the Commons in early June, where it will almost certainly fail, triggering a Tory leadership contest. Such a contest typically takes two months, although most of that time is allowed for a ballot of party members, which could be shortened by several weeks.
June is also when the current parliamentary session ends, having been extended from its customary one year to two due to Brexit.
With no Commons majority for any form of Brexit, the likeliest outcomes ahead are no deal or no Brexit
There had been talk of extending it further but every other Commons party – including the DUP – has said that would be an outrage if done for Tory management purposes. So a new session needs to start, marked by a new programme of legislation set out in a queen’s speech, despite no new legislation being planned as Brexit has consumed everything.
Scheduled slap bang in the middle of all this is renewal of the confidence-and-supply agreement, without which the government cannot function. The agreement was signed on June 26th two years ago with an effective two-year lifespan. That was the deadline for spending most of its £1 billion of funding, nearly all of which has since been disbursed – the only delay is with £150 million for broadband.
There must also be a review of the agreement at the end of the parliamentary session. It can safely be assumed more funding will be demanded. The health and education sectors in Northern Ireland are already putting in unsubtle bids.
The DUP has always stressed its agreement is with the government, not the prime minister. May will linger on just long enough to renew the deal under her tenure, although her authority will be slipping away.
•   A new direction of travel for the UK and Ireland
•   Newton Emerson: Stormont faces direct rule with Dublin input if talks fail again
•   Newton Emerson: DUP must offer more than tribalistic flag-waving
Another complication
She might want to press on regardless, and give the DUP cause to co-operate, thanks to another complication. Stormont talks will conclude at the end of this month with a review by the British prime minister and the Taoiseach. May is reportedly keen to see devolution restored on her watch, if only to depart on one positive note. A scenario can just about be imagined where solid progress is announced, with more funding for Northern Ireland the icing on the cake. DUP gloating at this will be hard for other Stormont parties to stomach but they can hardly turn the money down.
However, the DUP might be forced by timing or tempted by circumstance to seek renewal under May’s successor. This would not be about money – it would be about Brexit. The confidence-and-supply agreement committed the DUP to supporting the government on Brexit, budgets, confidence votes and the queen’s speech. After the DUP fell out with May over the backstop, it reneged first on budgets and then on Brexit, claiming the government had reneged on its commitments to unionists.
Breakdown in relations
Renewing the agreement will require repairing this breakdown in relations. That will be most plausible under a prime minister who pledges to ditch or water down the backstop, as all the leading contenders – chief among them Boris Johnson – have promised to do.
What the next prime minister eventually ends up doing, or being able to do, is another matter. However, that is a problem for the next breakdown in DUP-Tory relations.
Keeping the Conservatives in power at the expense of the backstop is not something most other Stormont parties will be able to stomach, menacing what hopes there are of restoring devolution in the short to medium term. Johnson in particular seems guaranteed to antagonise nationalists.
The DUP, which badly wants Stormont back, will have to weigh that risk in the balance but the scales are heavily tipped. On one side is the kudos and influence on offer at Westminster for the next three years of the Conservative mandate; on the other, a northern Assembly that may never return.
Of course there are bigger risks to consider than the timescale for restoring devolution.
With no Commons majority for any form of Brexit, the likeliest outcomes ahead are no deal or no Brexit.
The DUP does not want the hard Brexit a no deal would involve and has consistently said so, but that has become the implication of demanding withdrawal without the backstop.
Renewing the confidence-and-supply agreement around this demand, as the party is politically trapped into doing, means it will appear instrumental in pushing for no deal and will get the blame for that outcome or no Brexit, either of which will place the union under strain, as the latter will antagonise nationalist England.
The DUP has been criticised for overplaying its hand by trying to kill the backstop. That is nothing to how badly it will have overplayed its hand if it succeeds


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #92 on: May 24, 2019, 08:57:36 AM »

The Fed has spooked markets with an ice-cold warning

 Fed Chief Jerome Powell has a difficult decision to make   
•   Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
23 May 2019 • 7:21pm
The US Federal Reserve has sent markets a sobering message. It will not bail out the Trump administration as the trade war expands; nor will it come to the rescue quickly if Wall Street wilts.
The proverbial “Fed Put” is a long way out of the money at this juncture. The outlook for the US economy will have to take a nasty turn before the Powell Fed cuts interest rates or halts quantitative tightening altogether.
“The hurdle for cuts is very high,” said Tom Porcelli, US strategist for RBC Capital and a former Fed official.
The Fed minutes released late on Wednesday are something of a shocker for investors who thought they had a monetary comfort blanket for the rest of this year. Futures contracts show markets have been pricing in 50 basis points of rate cuts.

The text revealed that “many” members of the voting committee had dismissed the recent soft patch in inflation as “transitory” and largely caused by “idiosyncratic factors”. This amounts to a warning by the world’s hegemonic central bank that it may raise rates. It is an ice-cold douche for fragile markets.
Markets reacted with alarm yesterday. The Dow Jones fell 1.6pc and the S&P 500 slid by 1.7pc. The US dollar index (DXY) climbed to a two-year high of 98.2. This has set off further tremors through Asian bourses already reeling from the contraction in global trade.
The Shanghai composite index is now down 15pc from highs just a month ago. The MSCI index of emerging markets is off almost 11pc. Secondary fallout is starting to reach Europe. “A rising dollar tightens global funding conditions,” said Hans Redeker and Gek Teng Khoo from Morgan Stanley. Offshore dollar loans and bonds have reached $12 trillion (£9.5  trillion) with further liabilities hidden in derivatives, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
Morgan Stanley said it is “increasingly bearish” as dollar liquidity dries up, warning financial markets have become unhinged from fundamentals. It has advised clients to retreat to the safe haven of the Japanese yen.

Much of the dollar debt is owed by Asian, Latin American, and Middle East corporations. It is often on short-term maturities – typically three months – and has to be rolled over at a higher cost on offshore funding markets as the dollar creeps up. The Fed’s broad dollar index is testing a 17-year high.
“We are going to get a crisis and when that happens the capital flows will reverse,” said William White, the BIS’s former chief economist. “It reminds me of what happened in 2008 to 2009 when European banks were financing long-term assets in the US with short-term dollar debt. They had a huge liquidity problem. This time the trouble is in Asia, and I am afraid that Asian banks might have to sell a lot of assets in fire-sale conditions.”
The Fed saved the day in 2008 by extending emergency dollar liquidity to fellow central banks through swap lines. “It is not clear whether Trump and Congress would let the Fed do that again,” said Prof White. “They think it is lending trillions to untrustworthy foreigners.”

What is raising eyebrows is the continued fall in the Chinese yuan. It has been sliding relentlessly over the last three weeks as relations between Washington and Beijing reach rupture. The yuan hit Y6.92 to the dollar yesterday. The Chinese authorities have defended this level in past episodes but there is concern this time that they may let the exchange rate break through the psychological line of Y7 – perhaps judging it too risky to squander foreign reserves trying to defend the currency. China’s $3 trillion reserves are not as big as they look under the International Monetary Fund’s adequacy rule.
Hong Kong regulators say foreign funds have been withdrawing money from the Chinese mainland at a torrid pace through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Connect pipeline. The net exodus has been $42bn (£33bn) so far in May. “Steady inflows have converted into sharp outflows,” said Mr Redeker.
Chinese companies have also been scrambling to raise dollars pre-emptively to cover $900bn of hard currency debt.
It is possible that China is orchestrating a stealth devaluation in order to claw back trade competitiveness and retaliate against the US. Any evidence that China is deliberately steering down its currency would further enrage US president Donald Trump.
Mr Redeker said such manipulation is highly unlikely. Beijing was traumatised by the exchange rate scare in 2015-2016 when the People’s Bank burned through $1 trillion of reserves trying to hold the line. The authorities will probably defend the exchange rate aggressively if turbulence sets in.

Mr Porcelli said the Fed is right to take a tough stand on rates. It is faced with “super tight labour markets” and capacity constraints in the US. There is a risk that cost-push inflation will become lodged in the system. The Fed may have to raise rates regardless of mounting stress in the rest of the world.
Yet the voting committee is starkly divided. Doves fret that the greater danger is a lurch downwards for the economy as Mr Trump’s fiscal stimulus fades and the profit cycle rolls over.
They fear a repeat of mistakes made last December when the Fed misjudged the severity of the global trade slowdown and raised US rates into the teeth of a market squall. The Fed was quickly forced to make the most dramatic policy about-turn since the late Nineties.
The US data is sending a blizzard of mixed signals, as often happens at key turning points in the cycle. Consumer optimism is running high and truck tonnage soared 7.4pc in April.
Yet trade wars have begun to hit capital expenditure by companies. Major appliance shipments in the US fell 17pc last month from a year ago, comparable to falls seen during the onset of the subprime crisis in 2008.
Fed chairman Jay Powell has a treacherous judgment call to make. Nobody ever said central banking was easy.



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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #93 on: May 29, 2019, 12:13:22 PM »
With the capitulation of theresa May, No Deal shite is back

Tory leadership contest becomes no-deal battleground as Esther McVey says it is 'the only viable option' for Brexit

 Esther McVey is running for the Tory leadership CREDIT: PAUL COOPER
•    Gordon Rayner, political editor
28 MAY 2019 • 10:00PM

A“clean break” from the EU is “the only viable and acceptable” option left, Esther McVey has said, as the Tory leadership race became a battleground over a no deal Brexit.
The former work and pensions secretary said the Prime Minister’s deal is “dead” and the only way to deliver Brexit “is to actively embrace leaving the EU without one”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Ms McVey seeks to distinguish herself from other Brexiteer candidates by making clear that no deal would be her preferred choice, rather than simply an option she would be prepared to contemplate.
She also launches a direct attack on Jeremy Hunt - who had said attempting a no deal Brexit would be “political suicide” - by saying that “extinction” would only come about through failing to leave the EU on October 31.
Ms McVey, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab have all said they would be prepared to take the UK out of the EU without a deal in October, but David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, and Rory Stewart, the International Development Secretary, both joined Mr Hunt in attacking the idea.
Mr Stewart, one of 10 Tory MPs who have declared their candidacy, said talking up no deal was “Wizard of Oz” thinking, while Mr Gauke, who is not currently running, said no deal would be too detrimental to the economy.
Kit Malthouse, the housing minister, became the 10th MP to join the race, saying it was time for “a new generation to lead the charge into our future”.  James Cleverly, a Brexit minister, is expected to announce his own candidacy on Wednesday.
Mr Hunt’s decision to come out against no deal in Monday’s Daily Telegraph appeared to have cost him support among MPs yesterday, with reports of some of his backers switching to Michael Gove after Mr Hunt was accused of flip-flopping on the issue. The Environment Secretary is now the bookies’ joint-second favourite with Dominic Raab to become the next Prime Minister, with Boris Johnson still well ahead.
Mr Gove said yesterday that Brexit had to be delivered before the next general election “Otherwise we will be punished at the ballot box, Corbyn will be in Number 10 propped up by the SNP, and Brexit may well be reversed altogether”.
Kit Malthouse has also entered the Tory leadership race

Yesterday Theresa May said Brexit was now a “matter for my successor” as she visited Brussels for a meeting of EU leaders to discuss who should take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission President this summer.
Downing Street confirmed that Mrs May had given up hope of presenting her Withdrawal Agreement Bill to Parliament next week, meaning there is unlikely to be any progress on Brexit until a new Tory leader is in place in late July.
Mr Hunt said yesterday he would attempt to renegotiate the current Brexit deal and would include Tory Brexiteers from the European Research Group and representatives of the DUP, the Scottish and Welsh assemblies in his negotiating team.
However Mr Juncker insisted: “I was crystal clear. There will be no renegotiation.”

Ms McVey, who resigned from the Cabinet last year over Mrs May’s Brexit policy, says: “No government that I lead will ever seek an extension beyond 31st October.  It’s time for the Conservative Party to wake up, listen to the voters and embrace Brexit as a magnificent opportunity, not as a problem to be managed, mitigated and ultimately reversed.  Otherwise Jeremy Corbyn will become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.”
She says that the European election result showed that the public’s view on Brexit has “hardened” and so “we need to stop wasting time having artificial debates about re-negotiating backstops or resurrecting botched deals”.
She adds: “If they believe that tying us to thousands of Brussels’ rules and regulations during an implementation period and handing over £39bn without even a trade deal in return will now bring back the millions of voters we have lost to the Brexit Party then I fear they are in cloud cuckoo land.”
In a clear swipe at not only Mr Hunt but also Mr Johnson and Mr Raab, Ms McVey says: “Anyone who pretends that they will achieve in three months what Theresa May failed to do in three years simply through the force of their personality is not being straight with people…
“Messing about with this inadequate Withdrawal Agreement will just prolong the agony and cause yet more disruption and uncertainty for British business.”

Aaron Boone

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #94 on: May 29, 2019, 01:20:22 PM »
Might as well have Esther Rantzen running than Esther McVey.

quit yo jibbajabba

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #96 on: May 31, 2019, 09:15:24 AM »
Seafoid the lads were just wonderin could ye not just copy and paste the thing and put her on here



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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #97 on: June 25, 2019, 05:57:39 PM »

                  Simon Kuper
               June 21, 2019

            You turn the pages of yellowing student newspapers from 30 years ago, and there they are, recognisably the same faces that dominate today’s British news. Boris Johnson running for Union president, Michael Gove winning debating contests, Jeremy Hunt holding together the faction-ridden Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA).Six of the seven men who survived the first round of the Tory leadership contest earlier this month studied at Oxford. The final two remaining candidates, Johnson and Hunt, were contemporaries along with Gove in the late 1980s. The UK is thus about to install its 11th Oxonian prime minister since the war. (Three postwar PMs didn’t attend university, and Gordon Brown went to Edinburgh.) This beats even the grip of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration on the French presidency (four of the past six presidents have been énarques), let alone Harvard’s on the White House.When I arrived in Oxford aged 18 in October 1988, it was still a very British and quite amateurish university, shot through with dilettantism, sexual harassment and sherry. Gove, Hunt and the much less political David Cameron had graduated that summer, and Johnson in 1987, but from my messy desk at the student newspaper Cherwell I covered a new generation of wannabe politicians.You couldn’t miss Jacob Rees-Mogg, seemingly the only undergraduate who always wore a suit, or the early Europhobe Dan Hannan. Both became ideological fathers of Brexit. I’m still covering them today.This isn’t a jolly boys’ story about the japes we all had together. I didn’t know any of the Oxford Tories personally, because we were separated by the great Oxford class divide: I was middle class, from a London comprehensive (after years abroad), and they were mostly upper-class public schoolboys. But the night Brexit happened, I sensed it was rooted in 1980s Oxford. I wrote a column about this in July 2016, then gradually came to see that the roots went even deeper than I had realised.Any understanding of the British ruling class — and the next prime minister — requires returning to that place and time.
                  Being president of the Oxford Union was an opportunity to mix with influential figures – it was ‘the first step to being prime minister’, said Michael Heseltine. Here, Union president Boris Johnson with Greek culture minister Melina Mercouri in 1986.  © Reuters
            At Cherwell, we were always writing about the Oxford Union. The debating society, off a courtyard behind the Cornmarket shopping street, was a kind of teenage House of Commons. Its officers wore white tie, speakers black tie, and everyone called each other “honourable member”. You won debates not by boring the audience with detail, but with jokes and ad hominem jibes.Almost all aspiring Tory politicians passed through the Union. Theresa May never won the presidency — disadvantaged by her gender and with no rhetorical gifts — but in 1979 her future husband Philip did. The Mays had been introduced at an Oxford Conservative disco by another Union president, Benazir Bhutto, future prime minister of Pakistan.In May’s day, the Union was a small circle of debating obsessives. But then it hit financial trouble and began recruiting among the broader student population. By 1988, about 60 per cent of Oxford’s undergraduates had paid the £60 joining fee.
                     The biggest political issues in mid-1980s Oxford were Britain’s deployment of nuclear weapons and the miners’ strike. Europe rarely came up then
            I never joined but I sometimes got press tickets to debates, and I still remember a young Benjamin Netanyahu trouncing hecklers, and, on the 50th anniversary of Dunkirk, the former prime minister and ex-Union president Ted Heath evoking Oxford on the eve of the second world war, when German invasion loomed. Another lure was the Union bar, which — almost miraculously in 1980s Britain — stayed open till 2.30am, until the deferential local police finally intervened.Most Oxford students opposed Margaret Thatcher by the late 1980s, but the Union’s biggest political grouping was the Tories, split between Thatcherites and “wets”, who would exchange arcane factional insults.The biggest political issues in mid-1980s Oxford, recalls Tim Hames, then a Union politician and member of OUCA, were Britain’s deployment of nuclear weapons, apartheid (many Tories weren’t entirely anti) and the miners’ strike. Europe rarely came up then. The European Commission had given Thatcher the British rebate she had demanded, and she was working with the Commission’s president, Jacques Delors, to create a European single market. The Single European Act was passed in 1986.Most Union politicians weren’t very interested in policy anyway. Anyone wanting to make policy that affected students’ lives got involved in the separate Oxford University Student Union or their college’s junior common room (JCR). That kind of politics mostly attracted aspiring Labourites. Dave Miliband chaired the student union’s accommodation committee, while Yvette Cooper, Eddie Balls and Ed Miliband were JCR presidents.By contrast, the Union favoured debating skills and ambition without a cause. Every eight-week term, the Union elected a president, secretary, treasurer and librarian. The “hacks”, as student politicians were known, would traipse around the colleges soliciting votes from ordinary students.As the future Spectator columnist Toby Young wrote in the Union’s house magazine in 1985: “It doesn’t matter how unpopular you are with the establishment, how stupid you are, how small your College is or how pretentious your old school: if only you’ve got the sheer will you can succeed.”
                  Michael Gove, president of the Oxford Union two years after Boris Johnson, defends the institution in Cherwell newspaper in 1988. © Cherwell
            Johnson’s Oxford days are now usually mentioned in connection with his membership of the hard-drinking, posh and sometimes destructive Bullingdon Club, but in fact he was a vessel of focused ambition. Arriving in Oxford from Eton in 1983, he had three aims, writes Sonia Purnell in Just Boris: to get a First-class degree, find a wife and become Union president. That post was “the first step to being prime minister”, said the 1980s Tory politician Michael Heseltine. At speakers’ dinners, a 20-year-old Union president would find himself or herself sitting next to cabinet ministers and other useful contacts.Most students arrived in Oxford barely knowing the Union existed, but Johnson possessed the savvy of his class: he had run Eton’s debating society, and his father Stanley had come to Oxford in 1959 intending to become Union president. Stanley had failed but Boris was a star. Simon Veksner, who followed Johnson from their house at Eton to the Union, tells me: “Boris’s charisma even then was off the charts, you couldn’t measure it: so funny, warm, charming, self-deprecating. You put on a funny act, based on The Beano and PG Wodehouse. It works, and then that is who you are.”Johnson also came equipped with the peculiarly intimate network that an upper-class boarding school confers. Ordinary schoolchildren spend eight hours a day with their classmates but boarders live together, and often have inner-class family connections going back generations. Johnson arrived in Oxford knowing dozens of people, whereas some state-school kids knew precisely nobody.He didn’t let his degree — Classics — interfere with his Union ambitions. In 1980s Oxford, studying was almost optional. A common workload for arts students was one essay a week, often penned during an overnight panic, then typically read aloud to one’s tutor. When I reread my old essays while revising for finals, they were so pathetic that I wanted to write to my tutors to apologise.One thing you learnt at Oxford (even if you weren’t in the Union) was how to speak without much knowledge. Underprepared students would spend much of a tutorial talking their way around the holes in their essay. Cherwell praised Simon Stevens (a Union president in 1987) as “Oxford’s most talented off-the-cuff tutorial faker”: “Recently Simes read out almost half of an essay to his tutor before his partner revealed that he was ‘reading’ from a blank piece of paper.” Stevens is now chief executive of the National Health Service, appointed in 2013 under health secretary Jeremy Hunt, his Oxford contemporary.Johnson just missed his First. His tutor Jonathan Barnes recalls, “If you’re intelligent enough, you can rub along in philosophy on a couple of hours a week. Boris rubbed along on no hours a week, and it wasn’t quite good enough.” Johnson’s sister Rachel said that it later fell to her to “break the terrible news” to Boris that their brother Jo had got a First. (Rachel, Jo and Boris’s first wife Allegra Mostyn-Owen all edited the Oxford magazine Isis.)
                  David Cameron at the Oxford Union Valentine Ball in 1987. After Oxford, Cameron went straight to the Conservative party’s research department – where he would later encounter his future chancellor, George Osborne © Dafydd Jones
            In 1984 Johnson ran for Union president against the grammar schoolboy Neil Sherlock. The election dramatised the Oxford class struggle: upper class versus middle class. (Working-class students were rare.) In the vernacular of some public schoolboys, state-school pupils were “stains”, below even the “Tugs” from minor private schools.Sherlock, later a partner at KPMG and PwC, and special adviser to the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in 2012/13, recalls: “Boris mark one was a very conventional Tory, clearly on the right, and had what I would term an Old Etonian entitlement view: ‘I should get the top job because I’m standing for the top job.’ He didn’t have a good sense of what he was going to do with it.”
                     As Union president in 1988, Gove wrote a paean to elitism in the Union’s house magazine: ‘We are all here, part of an elite. It is our duty to bear that in mind’
            Mostyn-Owen invited Sherlock for tea and tried to charm him into not standing against “my Boris”. Undeterred, Sherlock campaigned on a platform of “meritocrat versus toff, competence versus incompetence”. Johnson mobilised his public-school networks but lost. Sherlock came away underwhelmed by his opponent: “The rhetoric, the personality, the wit were rather randomly deployed, beyond getting a laugh.” Sherlock expected OUCA’s president Nick Robinson to become the political star, and Johnson to succeed in journalism. Instead, Robinson now presents BBC radio’s Today programme.Johnson learnt from his defeat. A year later he was elected president, this time disguising his Toryism by allying himself with Oxford’s Social Democrats. His second campaign was more competent: the American graduate student Frank Luntz, now a senior Republican pollster, conducted polls for him. And Johnson worked his charm beyond his base.Michael Gove, a Scottish fresher in 1985, told Johnson’s biographer Andrew Gimson: “The first time I saw him was in the Union bar . . . He seemed like a kindly, Oxford character, but he was really there like a great basking shark waiting for freshers to swim towards him.” Gove told Gimson: “I was Boris’s stooge. I became a votary of the Boris cult.”In an essay for The Oxford Myth (1988), a book edited by his sister Rachel, Johnson advised aspiring student politicians to assemble “a disciplined and deluded collection of stooges” to get out the vote. “Lonely girls from the women’s colleges” who “back their largely male candidates with a porky decisiveness” were particularly useful, he wrote. “For these young women, machine politics offers human friction and warmth.” Reading this, you realise why almost all Union presidents who become Tory politicians are men. (Thatcher’s domain was OUCA, where she was president in 1946.)Johnson added: “The tragedy of the stooge is that . . . he wants so much to believe that his relationship with the candidate is special that he shuts out the truth. The terrible art of the candidate is to coddle the self-deception of the stooge.”Tory MPs now backing Johnson’s candidacy for leader may find the essay interesting. Gove, who wore a kilt in debates, was such a gifted speaker that he could even make a compelling case to a student audience against free choice in sexual behaviour. He was unusually ideological by Union standards, a Thatcherite meritocrat. As Union president in 1988, he wrote a paean to elitism in the Union’s house magazine: “I cannot overemphasise what elitism is not. It is not about back-slapping cliques, reactionary chic or Old Etonian egos. It is a spirit of unashamed glamour, excitement and competition . . . We are all here, part of an elite. It is our duty to bear that in mind.”Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt, an OUCA president in 1987, made much less noise. Hames sums up: “The Boris appeal was Boris. Michael was interested in ideology and ideas. Jeremy was more a small-c managerial conservative.”Hunt wasn’t charismatic or eloquent, and had no obvious political passions, but he was the archetypal head boy (a role he’d held at Charterhouse). An admiral’s son, distant relative of the Queen, tall and courteous, he usually rose above Tory factionalism. After Cherwell reported that a “libertarian faction” was trying to “take over” OUCA, and that one committee member was a “Moonie” (a member of the Unification Church cult), Hunt wrote a letter to the editor: “OUCA remains a moderate association controlled by neither libertarians nor any other faction within the Conservative party, and exists to represent the views of all Conservative students at Oxford.” The Moonie, he added, had been expelled.Amid all this Oxford politicking, there was one notable absentee: David Cameron. He got his First, and amused himself in posh dining clubs, but felt no need to do anything so vulgar as burnish his CV with student politics. After all, he too was distantly related to the Queen, his father chaired the establishment club White’s, and his cousin Ferdinand Mount headed Thatcher’s Policy Unit. Cameron went straight from Oxford to the Conservative Party’s research department, where he later encountered his successor in the Bullingdon and future chancellor, George Osborne.Rees-Mogg arrived at Oxford at the same time as me in 1988. Almost immediately, Cherwell nominated him (as it had Gove before) for the traditional title of “Pushy Fresher”. The paper printed a photograph of him speechifying in his suit, above the caption, “What more need we say?”Studying the picture, you realise: Rees-Mogg hasn’t changed. Like Johnson and Gove, he even has the same hairstyle today. They were almost fully formed at 18. School had given them the confidence, articulacy and know-how to bestride Oxford. They also already knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. If most students back then had had to guess who would be ruling Britain in 2019, they would probably have named Johnson, Gove and Rees-Mogg.
                  Like Michael Gove before him, Jacob Rees-Mogg is nominated for the traditional title of ‘Pushy Fresher’ by Oxford University’s student newspaper Cherwell in 1988 © Cherwell
            The last became president of OUCA in 1991, with Cherwell citing his “campaign for world domination and social adequacy”. However, he proved just too peculiar to be elected Union president and lost to Damian Hinds, who is now the education secretary.The Oxford Tories were climbing the greasy pole before most students had even located it. The majority arrived at university uncertain, terribly dressed, trying to find themselves, often wrestling with imposter syndrome. Only at Oxford did they acquire the qualities that Johnson et al already had: a ruling-class accent, rhetorical skills and the ability to feel confident in any establishment setting.In 1988, British politics changed. The previously pro-European Thatcher suddenly turned Eurosceptic. She had realised that her beloved single market would be accompanied by closer political integration. In her “Bruges speech” in September 1988, she warned against “a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels”.That idea spooked the Oxford Tories. They revered Britain’s medieval parliament filled with witty English banter, whereas Brussels offered ugly modernism and jargon-ridden Globish. Ruling Britain was their class’s prerogative. It was none of Brussels’ business. In 1990, the future OUCA president Dan Hannan founded the Oxford Campaign for an Independent Britain at the Queen’s Lane Coffee House on the High Street. With hindsight, some see this as the start of the campaign for Brexit.
                  Magdalen College, Oxford, where Jeremy Hunt studied, as did future chancellor George Osborne © Getty Images
            Toby Young had written in 1985 that it was lucky the Union existed — “that in an environment as full of ruthless, sociopathic people as Oxford, there should be an institution that sucks them all in, contains all their wilful energy and grants them power only over each other”. He hoped that one day its officers could be similarly contained within the House of Commons.But the Commons couldn’t contain them. These people spent years agitating for Brexit. In 2016 they secured their referendum. Johnson sniffed the chance to become prime minister, and — in Union jargon — decided at the last minute to back the motion. Gove is a true believer in Brexit, but his decision to campaign for it — undermining Cameron — was partly an outflow of the Oxford class struggle. As education secretary under Cameron, he had thought they were friends, but when ­Cameron suddenly moved him to chief whip in 2014, Gove was devastated. He felt that Cameron and his coterie of Old Etonians (a stronger network for Cameron than Oxford) had treated him “like staff”, one person in his circle told me. He wanted revenge.Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European Studies at Oxford, describes the referendum as “a Union debate with the addition of modern campaigning techniques”. He says, “One of the great things about British public life is that it’s irradiated by a gentle sense of humour — but ‘chaque qualité a ses défauts’ [‘every quality has its downsides’].” In a cross-class alliance with Nigel Farage and the tabloids, the Oxford Tories triumphed.Politicians from 1980s Oxford dominated both the Remain and Leave camps, but they were divided by the subject of their degrees. Oxford’s “prime minister’s degree” is PPE: politics, philosophy, economics. It has often been associated with the Brexiters. Ivan Rogers, for instance, a grammar schoolboy in 1980s Oxford and the UK’s permanent representative to the EU until he resigned in 2017, discerned “a very British establishment sort of revolution. No plan and little planning, oodles of PPE tutorial-level plausible bullshit, supreme self-confidence that we understand others’ real interests better than they do . . . ”
                     May entrusted the Brexiters with executing Brexit. But they were debaters, not policymakers. They couldn’t debate Brussels into submission
            Yet in fact in 2016 the PPEists were almost all Remainers: Cameron, Hunt, Stewart, Philip Hammond, Matt Hancock, Sam Gyimah, Hinds, Nick Boles, the Milibands, Balls, Cooper and Peter Mandelson. They had presumably chosen the degree in search of the cutting-edge knowledge needed to run a modern country. (Fatefully, the one great PPEist Leaver was the media proprietor Rupert Murdoch, who in 1950s Oxford had been business manager of Cherwell and a Labour Club member.)By contrast, most Brexiters had studied backward-looking subjects: Classics for Johnson, History for Rees-Mogg and Hannan, and English Literature (which mostly meant the canon) for Gove. They were nostalgics. Hence Johnson’s hagiography of Churchill and Rees-Mogg’s much-mocked recent paean The Victorians, while Gove as education secretary strove to make sure pupils learnt 19th-century literature and Britain’s “island story”.After the Oxford Brexiters won the debate, Cameron resigned, and they switched to another familiar format: the in-house leadership election. As one former Union president remarked, the ensuing contest could be described entirely in Union slang: “Boris knifed Dave. Michael knifed Boris. Theresa and Michael stole Boris’s slate. Boris self-binned.”May became prime minister, and entrusted the Brexiters with executing Brexit. She gave them the key jobs in cabinet. But they were debaters, not policymakers. They couldn’t debate Brussels into submission, because the EU’s negotiators followed rules. So poorly briefed were the Brexiters that in December 2017 they accepted the principle of a “backstop” plan to keep the Irish border open, before spending the next 18 months fighting it.Now the Tories have another leadership election. Second time around, just as at Oxford, Johnson is running a competent and centrist campaign, talking up his liberal reign as mayor of London. Like Sherlock in 1984, Hunt is targeting Johnson’s lack of “seriousness”. Then as now, Gove stands in his hero’s shadow. He needn’t worry: in the Oxford tradition, there may be another election coming along soon.In the small, insular world of the British establishment, every so often a clique of people can exert an extraordinary influence. There is a curious parallel between the 1980s Oxford Tories and the 1930s Cambridge spies. The charming, blond, dishevelled Etonian sybarite Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross also emerged from an intimate, all-male, public-school network. Four of them were at Trinity College, with Maclean next door at Trinity Hall. Confident enough to formulate a revolutionary worldview despite being ill-informed, they embraced a utopian cause: Soviet communism. It promised a far-off paradise that they never expected to live in themselves. Working towards it was great fun.
                  A letter written to Cherwell newspaper in 1987 by Jeremy Hunt, who was president of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA). Hunt ‘made much less noise’ than Boris, and usually rose above Tory factionalism © Cherwell
            There is a similar element of play in Tory Brexit. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, chastised Rees-Mogg last year: “This is not a parlour game or debating society. These are real people with real lives.” Well, that’s what she thinks.The Cambridge Five were given roles of responsibility because they possessed elite CVs and came across as archetypal British gentlemen (partly through displays of eccentricity in hairstyles, drink and dress). They pursued their utopia for decades, ignoring all evidence that contradicted it and looking down on the rest of the establishment for its unimaginative thinking. When the spies were finally exposed, British trust in the establishment suffered a lasting dent.Admittedly, the comparison between the Cambridge and Oxford sets isn’t entirely fair: though both betrayed Britain’s interests to the benefit of Moscow, the Brexiters didn’t mean to.It’s an odd feeling to return to a town that you have barely seen in 25 years but where you know every street. Oxford looks almost unchanged, yet the time-traveller from the 1980s experiences a series of small shocks: there are Chinese tourists! Students sit in coffee shops working on laptops! The food is decent!Wandering around my old college, I marvelled at the Chinese and German names at the bottom of staircases. There are far more applicants to places nowadays, lazy alcoholic tutors are dying out, and rubbing along on “no hours a week” is no longer tolerated.
                  The Oxford Union Debating Chamber as it was in 1949. By the 1980s, ‘you won debates not by boring the audience with detail, but with jokes and ad hominem jibes’ © Getty
                  Welsh Labour MP Chris Bryant speaking in 2013 at the Oxford Union, which operates rather like a student House of Commons © Alamy
            But the Union, weekly tutorials and therefore the outsize role of rhetoric survive. Is there some soul-searching at the university over the triumph of the Oxford Brexiters? “I think there should be,” replies Garton Ash. He exempts the tutorial system from blame: “Having an hour a week with an expert on the field cross-examining you — that doesn’t seem to me to lead to glibness.”But he adds, “Public schools and the culture around them provide a training in superficial articulacy: essay writing, public speaking, carrying it off. The Oxford Union reinforces that, even among those who didn’t go to public school. Compare and contrast the German elite. For me, Gove is the ultimate example.” Garton Ash says Oxford as an academic institution no longer encourages this style.Kalypso Nicolaïdis, professor of international relations, says: “If a student is capable of producing two well-written essays a week, with well-structured arguments, they can kind of get away with not knowing much about the subjects. This may sound superficial, but communicating is useful in life. Sometimes you need to convince people succinctly, especially if you go into politics.”But, she adds, “it’s not what Oxford is about. I believe most colleagues would agree that our commitment is to convey knowledge as deeply as possible. Whether as a student you want to take advantage of this is up to you.”I deplore what my contemporaries are doing to Britain. But given that I too learnt at Oxford how to write and speak for a living without much knowledge, I can hardly talk.Additional research by Pauline HarrisFollow @FTMag on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first. Listen and subscribe to Everything Else, the FT culture podcast, at or on Apple PodcastsThis article has been amended to correct the year Boris Johnson graduated from Oxford university.


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #98 on: June 25, 2019, 06:03:27 PM »
2 conflicting articles

   The latest Brexit fantasy is the most absurd of all
            Article 24 of the WTO’s underlying treaty is not a solution to no-deal
         The editorial board
It is three years since the UK voted to leave the EU. It did so without a clear plan about its future relationship with the bloc. Since then, the British public has been treated to a stream of more or less unworkable plans by the government and leading Brexiters about maintaining frictionless trade with the union from outside.In the words of Boris Johnson, currently the strong favourite to win the Conservative party leadership contest and succeed Theresa May as prime minister, the UK wants to have its cake and eat it. The latest fantasy promulgated by some Brexit supporters, including Mr Johnson, is that the UK can invoke Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt), the treaty underpinning the World Trade Organization. This, they say, would maintain an unchanged trading relationship with the EU even if the UK crashes out without a deal when the deadline expires on October 31.There has been a lot of nonsense over the past three years, but this is a strong contender for the most absurd of all. As countless trade lawyers and other experts have patiently explained, a rarely-used provision of Article 24 allows two economies to maintain a preferential trading relationship between themselves while they are finalising and implementing a full trade deal. It is not an open-ended way of maintaining preferential long-term access to each other’s markets even before talks begin. It also requires both partners to agree to invoke it, and other member governments of the WTO can object. Moreover, the provision applies only to tariffs on goods.
Services trade would still see a severe disruption, as would the UK leaving the EU’s regulatory regime for products including manufactures and food.The EU has repeatedly and rightly said it has no intention of entering into an interim Article 24 arrangement with the UK in case of a no-deal Brexit. Such an agreement would merely give Britain an excuse to flounder around endlessly trying to work out what kind of relationship it wants with the EU.Liam Fox, the international trade secretary and a supporter of Mr Johnson’s opponent Jeremy Hunt, is himself prone to persistent over-optimism about trade negotiations. To his credit, however, he has attempted to quash the Article 24 idea. Yet Mr Johnson and his surrogates continue merrily to propagate the misleading suggestion. Not surprisingly, Mr Johnson is trying to avoid scrutiny during the campaign, ducking debates with other candidates and dodging contact with the press.How much Mr Johnson genuinely believes his arguments and how much he is trying to gull the Conservative membership is unclear. In any case, it seems to be working. Most party members want to leave the EU in October with no deal if necessary, according to surveys.The UK government’s counterparts in Brussels have been watching the policy positions emerging from factional struggles within the Conservative party with rising incredulity. Mrs May crippled the talks from the start by announcing a series of unrealistic red lines. The Article 24 illusion is merely an extreme extension of that mentality.Mr Johnson is likely to win the leadership election and become prime minister. Assuming he manages to form a government, that is when reality will bite. He needs to have a plan ready to deal with the disappointment of his followers when it turns out they were sold policies under false pretences. A unilateral invocation of part of Article 24 is not a way out of the UK’s Brexit predicament. If Mr Johnson and his followers do not know that, they soon will.

Ireland under EU pressure to lay out plans for border as fears mount that no-deal Brexit is unavoidable

 Members of an anti-Brexit campaign group stage a protest against a hard border in Northern Ireland
•   Peter Foster, Europe Editor
24 June 2019 • 9:30pm
Ireland is facing demands from six fellow EU countries to set out detailed plans for how it will manage a no-deal Brexit as fears grow in Brussels that such an exit may be unavoidable, The Telegraph can reveal.
In the first clear sign that EU solidarity with Ireland is starting to come under strain, a gang of six states: France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands; are insisting that Ireland must set out in operational detail how it will protect EU borders.
The move comes as EU leaders bid farewell to Theresa May, who had consistently ruled out a no-deal exit, and prepare to welcome either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, both of whom have committed to leaving the EU without a deal as a last resort.
It reflects growing impatience among EU member states over the refusal of the Irish government to spell out what will happen if the Irish backstop – which was designed to prevent the return of a hard border in Ireland – backfires and causes a no deal.
Both Tory leadership candidates have pledged to seek changes to the backstop, such as asking for it to be time-limited, but the Irish government, the European Commission and EU leaders say the existing Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened.
However, EU negotiators still expect the new prime minister to use the threat of no deal to put huge pressure on Ireland to choose between accepting a time-limit that “kicks the can” or a no deal that would be immediately 
destructive to the Irish economy.
The Irish Central Bank warned this week that a disorderly no-deal Brexit could knock four percentage points off Irish economic growth in the first year; result in 100,000 fewer jobs and inflict “very severe and immediate 
disruptive effects”.
The UK Government has already said it will not impose checks on the border in the event of no deal raising the prospect that the full burden of border checks will fall on Ireland.
Until recently, the Irish government has avoided the detail, countering that the UK has a mutual duty to help avoid a return to a hard border under the Good Friday Agreement, and threatening to not hold any EU-UK trade talks until London complies.
But the decision to put pressure on Dublin reflects concerns in Berlin and Paris that if the UK does not cooperate, then Ireland will pose a risk to the integrity of the EU single market in the event of a no deal.
“We need to know exactly what is going to happen in Ireland on day one of a no-deal Brexit if the British do nothing to help,” said an EU diplomat with knowledge of the discussions.
Poland is understood to be among a minority of member states who harbour hopes that forcing Ireland to confront the difficulties of a no deal could pave the way to reopening the debate on time-limiting the backstop.
Both in private and public, the Irish government remains adamant they will not do anything to dilute the backstop, citing polls showing that eight out of 10 Irish voters support sticking to the backstop even if it risks no deal.
Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, dug in publicly at this week’s EU leaders summit, promising there would not be any renegotiation of the Irish Protocol and warning there was no appetite for further Brexit negotiations.
Three senior EU sources confirmed that Ireland was being forced to work with the European Commission’s Task Force 50 to lay out detailed plans on customs controls, tariff collections and checks on plant and animal products.
The European Commission has made clear that it will require Ireland to defend the integrity of the EU single market and will not provide legal exemptions on required checks.
Although customs checks and paperwork can be filled in away from the immediate border, phytosanitary checks on animal and plant products must be done close to the border at registered Border Inspection Posts (BIPs).
Officials on both sides are clear that even a “light touch” and electronic schemes will require policing and inspections that will be politically sensitive in border areas. Customs checks still require infrastructure.
The European Commission has backed Dublin, promising in its recent no-deal planning notices that it will make UK cooperation on the Irish border a “precondition” for agreeing to any discussion on the future relationship in the event of a no deal.
A report by Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy released last week warned that, given the positions of both sides “Ireland will have to establish BIPs which are closer to the border” in the event of a no deal.



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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #99 on: June 27, 2019, 10:42:47 AM »
Senior hurling

Boris Johnson’s full English Brexit could rip the union apart

The Tory frontrunner’s ‘do-or-die’ approach is alienating Scotland and Northern Ireland – and courting disaster

Wed 26 Jun 2019 18.19 BST  Last modified on Wed 26 Jun 2019 21.33 BST 

  " It is time to wake up, but there is barely a moment to smell the coffee. If Boris Johnson becomes prime minister, Britain will be sleepwalking towards the break-up of the United Kingdom. The minority who want this to happen are rubbing their hands at the prospect. The separate minority who say they don’t care if it happens seem beyond reasoned debate at present. But the majority who don’t want it to happen aren’t being much more attentive either. Unless this changes, they could be in for a shock more lasting than Brexit.
Even when the twists and turns of leaving the EU dominated the daily news in the early part of this year it was difficult to get many English politicians or commentators to focus for long on the destructive consequences for the union. Now that Brexit has become the defining doctrinal obsession of a Conservative party leadership election conducted in the shadow of the Brexit party, even less attention is being paid to those possible consequences, especially in England. But the forces that are driving Britain towards its break-up are not sleeping.

This is a problem with very deep and entangled historical roots. It embraces the centuries-long uneasy relationship between Britain and Ireland, and the increasingly confrontational modern one between Britain and Scotland. It highlights the failure of successive constitutional settlements to give a particular voice to Englishness. It ensnares not just the Tory and Brexit parties in its coils but Labour, too.

For a few more weeks, the face of the problem is still Theresa May. She intermittently mouthed decent words about the union while consistently following a Brexit policy that made the words sound like lies. She talked about the union as precious and beloved while ignoring widespread unease in the non-English parts of the UK about Brexit and her version of it. When she spoke in Belfast and in Scotland, she repeatedly exposed a tin ear for local sensitivities.

The partial recovery of the Tory party in Scotland in 2017 has done very little to change this default setting. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, has struggled to persuade most leadership candidates to temper their approach in ways that help Scottish Tories. Of the original contenders, probably only Rory Stewart possesses what one could call an intuitive understanding of Scotland and the union. This week’s offer by Jeremy Hunt to include Davidson in any Brexit negotiating team is a rare recognition that the union is genuinely at stake in the Brexit battle.

But if May had a tin ear, what words remain to describe Johnson? The Tory frontrunner’s own origins may be strikingly cosmopolitan but his chosen persona, as the man who made possible the Brexit that most Scots and Northern Irish oppose, is potentially toxic. That is especially true given his “do or die” approach to leaving the EU has swallowed the full English Brexit.

His occasional diatribes are characteristically unrestrained. “Allowing the Scots to make their own laws, while free-riding on English taxpayers … is simply unjust,” he once wrote. He said in 2012 that public expenditure in London was of greater value to the country than public expenditure in Strathclyde – and says that when the Scottish government overspends “they will come cap in hand to Uncle Sugar in London. And when they do, I propose that we tell them to hop it.”

The Scottish National party is increasingly confident about a second independence referendum in which Johnson’s personality may help to overturn the 2014 vote to stay in the UK. With Johnson as prime minister, it will be much easier for the SNP to frame an independence campaign not just as an anti-Brexit breakaway, but as an anti-English revolt. The SNP’s offer in 2019 is more separatist than in 2014. Back then, it said it wanted to keep the pound and maintain customs and market alignment with the UK. Now, post-Brexit, it feels confident enough to reject those links.

Consumed by Brexit, the Conservative party has allowed its thinking on the union to drift into reactionary English nationalism. But Labour is no better. Jeremy Corbyn’s indifference to whether Britain remains in the EU is matched only by an apparent indifference to whether the UK remains unified. In the words of Gerry Hassan and Eric Shaw in their fascinating book The People’s Flag and the Union Jack, Corbyn “seems no more at ease with Britishness than with Englishness”. His support for Irish unification sits alongside a readiness to facilitate an independent Scotland. If a future Corbyn government finds itself dependent on the nationalists, it seems certain that he would give the SNP the independence referendum it seeks – and might even support its yes campaign.

Among major political figures, only Gordon Brown seems to grasp how much is at stake so immediately for the UK, and to have a strategy for preventing it. It was Brown who, more than anyone, brought urgency to the Better Together campaign in 2014. And it was Brown who warned in London this week that the union has never been in greater danger in its 300-year history because of what he called “divisive us-v-them nationalisms” in England driven by Johnson, the Tories and the Brexit party; and in Scotland, driven by the SNP.

Brown’s model of Britishness is open to challenge, but his imaginative grasp of the risks and importance of this moment is a towering reprimand to the timidity of today’s political leaders. If they do not find a way to keep the peoples of these islands together in a modern democratic union, they will open the way for those who will drive us apart."


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #100 on: June 27, 2019, 03:10:57 PM »
                  Simon Kuper
               June 21, 2019

Tragic that a bunch of know-nothings continually end up in charge of running a country.

Like I keep telling others - if these clowns were applying for the role as a vetted professional job, their CVs wouldn't be read beyond 10 lines before arcing toward the bin.
i usse an speelchekor


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #101 on: June 27, 2019, 03:23:50 PM »
                  Simon Kuper
               June 21, 2019

Tragic that a bunch of know-nothings continually end up in charge of running a country.

Like I keep telling others - if these clowns were applying for the role as a vetted professional job, their CVs wouldn't be read beyond 10 lines before arcing toward the bin.
It's the same with Gonzaga types in Dublin
There were useless when they had to make a call on the banks in September 2008


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #102 on: July 09, 2019, 09:13:33 AM »

Irish border Brexit blueprint 'lacks credibility' British-Irish chamber of commerce warns

 Peter Foster, europe editor
9 JULY 2019 • 6:00AM
Proposals by prominent Brexiteers to use technology to create an invisible border in Ireland after Brexit “lack credibility”, the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce has warned.

The Chamber issued a damning assessment of the proposals following a presentation by the Alternative Arrangements Commission, an independent group which has been exploring border solutions but has close ties to leading Brexiteers.

Among the lead authors is Shanker Singham, a former adviser to the Trade Secretary Liam Fox who is tipped to have a prominent policy role in a Boris Johnson administration which is expected to use the AAC proposals as a blueprint for the border.

Mr Johnson has said he believes there are “abundant” technological fixes for the Irish border, but one Northern Irish food wholesaler present at the meeting said that it would require 35 vets to be on site each night to make the AAC proposals viable.

Other concerns raised by businesses included the cost of completing paperwork, the lack of customs agents, the risk of increased smuggling and too much reliance on “goodwill” from the EU side that the Chamber deemed was very unlikely to be accepted as a legal basis for trade.

The Chamber’s report concluded that Mr Singham’s proposals “lack credibility in the reality of how all-island trade actually works”.

The Chamber also noted that the reports authors “indicated a strong preference for an island of Ireland zone with alignment to the EU” - a solution that has been strongly rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party which currently props up the Conservative minority government.

The DUP has warned it will not accept the creation of a new trade border in the Irish Sea that would impede Northern Ireland’s access to the UK’s internal markets.

The authors therefore accepted that such a solution “was not a politically viable option at this time” but the preference points to potential political flashpoint in the coming months as the Tory Party seeks to deliver Brexit.

A source familiar with briefings by the Alternative Arrangements Commission said the authors had privately made clear on other occasions that they believed the DUP “would have to face reality” in order to facilitate Brexit.

In a further sign that Northern Ireland might be left in the EU’s regulatory orbit, the AAC’s interim report proposed that the UK and Ireland follow the same rules for animal and plant health checks, on an “equivalence” basis with the EU, until the UK chooses to diverge.

In this scenario, the interim report added, Ireland could revert back to EU rules with Northern Ireland also following “subject to the consent of the Northern Irish people” - hinting at an all-Ireland solution that is fiercely resisted by the DUP.

The British-Irish Chamber questioned the viability of the AAC’s entire proposal, noting that it would also require significant exemptions from EU rules that require checks at the border, transferring these to warehouses and distribution centres set back from the border.

The Chamber warned that it was highly unlikely that the EU or the Irish government would agree to such terms since it would risk undermining Ireland’s position in the single market as soon as the UK adopted different rules.

“There was a concern that the authors were over simplifying the problem and that there is an over reliance on goodwill and derogations from the EU,” the Chamber report said.

Senior Irish politicians were even more forthright. Senator Neale Richmond, the chair of the Brexit committee in the Irish Dail, who also met Mr Singham and the AAC described the proposal as a “non-starter”.

“The proposal is a complete non-starter,” Sen Richmong said, warning that it failed to meet the UK government’s promise not to introduce new border infrastructure or related checks after Brexit. “It is not only premature, it is uncosted and unproven, with no real timeline.”

While the AAC proposals call for an exemption for small traders, trade and border experts also questioned the viability of proposals for larger businesses which it is suggested should use self-assessment schemes like the “CSA Platinum programme” between Canada and the USA.

However Dr Katy Hayward of Queen’s University Belfast who recently returned from a research mission to the US-Canada border, said that such schemes had proved of only marginal utility in practice.

“Canada's Customs Self-Assessment Platinum scheme requires a much higher standard for electronic record-keeping and tighter controls for security than other trusted trader schemes. As a result, it is quite burdensome for even large traders and take up of it has been limited,” she said.

“It looks unlikely that it will be included - in its current form -  in future plans for customs facilitation in Canada. It is curious to see it presented in the interim AAC report, therefore, as a model to be emulated.”

Nicole Sykes, the of EU Negotiations at the CBI said that the effort to explore alternative arrangements that could supersede - but not replace - the Irish backstop signalled a constructive approach, but that proposals still needed to be “practical, realistic and viable”.

“Firms on the island of Ireland still harbour deep concerns about how they’d affect operations and supply chains, not to mention the risks of smuggling and unrealistic timelines for introducing new technology,” she concluded.



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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #103 on: July 16, 2019, 11:11:36 AM »

Boris Johnson's Brexit plan – and what Europe might make of it
•    Peter Foster, europe editor
15 JULY 2019 • 12:00PM
As Boris Johnson prepares to enter Downing Street later this month there is plentiful speculation on his plan to deliver Brexit.
But not all speculation is idle and at a Telegraph event last week Mr Johnson set out in clear and methodical fashion how he believes Brexit can be achieved by October 31 and, as he put it, “p***k the twin puffballs” of the Lib Dems and the Brexit Party.
The plan, as he spelled it out, has four main planks and starts from the supposition that the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May must now be considered “defunct”.
Mr Johnson argued that after three failed votes in Parliament that divorce package - which agreed the rights of EU citizens, a £39bn financial settlement and created space to address the future of the Irish border - must now be “disaggregated” in order to be implemented.
First, Mr Johnson said, the rights of the 3.2m citizens resident in the UK after Brexit must be protected. That part of the deal will be taken “out of the otherwise defunct Withdrawal Agreement and put it into law”. He thinks this should have happened at the outset.
Second, the £39bn so-called Brexit ‘bill’ must be suspended “in a state of creative ambiguity over the talks” while a Free Trade Agreement is negotiated - but Mr Johnson is also clear that he will pay up front for a “standstill” transition period after exit day, if the EU is prepared to grant it.
At the same time, he’s happy to reach separate agreements on issues like EU civil servants’ pensions; the settlement of court cases still live at the point of Brexit and, on a bilateral basis, address the questions posed by Gibraltar and the management of UK bases in Cyprus.
Third, having tidied up these issues, Mr Johnson proposes that the Irish backstop be “kicked out” and instead the issue of the Irish border - and “indeed every other border” - gets settled “where those questions logically belong in the context of the Free Trade Agreement”.
In essence, the UK still promises to engage fully in the hunt for “alternative arrangements” for the Irish border (as the EU has already offered in the current agreement) but without the Irish backstop effectively pre-determining the outcome of that process.
Because as it stands, says Mr Johnson, the backstop means either remaining entirely in the EU’s Customs Union and single market, or leaving Northern Ireland stranded alone inside it. This, he says, is an “appalling choice” that no British prime minister can accept.
Boris Johnson addresses a crowd of Telegraph readers at an exclusive hustings event  CREDIT: PAUL GROVER
Fourth, and looming intentionally over all this, is for the UK to prepare for ‘no deal’ with “confidence and brio”, so that the EU is very clear that the cost of refusing the UK a transition on these terms is a “WTO-only Brexit” that hurts both sides, especially Ireland.
To summarise the pitch in Mr Johnson’s own words: “We’ll get a great deal; we’ll get a protraction of the existing arrangements; then we’ll come out and solve the Irish border problems in the negotiations on free trade.”
To many British ears, this will sound eminently reasonable - offering to look after EU citizens, to pay for a transition and then work hard on the technology needed to create a minimally disruptive border in Ireland when the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union.
But to the European side it sounds as entirely unreasonable - a charter for ‘free-riding’ on the EU that it would be political suicide for the other 27 government to accept. Taking each part of Mr Johnson’s plan in turn:
First, the offer to guarantee citizens’ rights is hardly seen in Brussels as an act of generous statesmanship, but rather one of common decency. It has, in any case, already been promised by Mrs May’s government and is necessary to win reciprocal protections for UK citizens in the EU.
Second, the threat to parlay the Brexit ‘bill’ into a future relationship recalls David Davis’s efforts to attach conditionality to the payments, promising the ‘row of the summer’ on the subject. As it happened, it lasted a single morning on the first day of talks in June 2017.
Given that even in a ‘no deal’ there will still need to be a host of other agreements to maintain a minimally disruptive environment, the EU bets on a similar capitulation. In short, EU officials and diplomats reckon that in time - one way or another - they will get their money.
Third Mr Johnson appears to want to ‘pay to play’ in the EU while he negotiates an FTA, but without submitting to any of the oversight that other EU players must accept in the form of the European Court of Justice, or the arbitration mechanisms agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Who wouldn’t want that?,” asks one EU diplomat. “If Britain was allowed to cherry-pick, why wouldn’t everyone? The EU doesn’t run on gentleman’s agreements and the Brits must know that by now.”
There is only one legally coherent way that the UK can leave and still effectively remain a member state while they negotiate a trade deal, and that is via the Article 50 process - the ‘transition period’ is the carrot, but it comes with legal safeguards for the EU. Otherwise it is just free-riding.
Fourth, proposing to fix the Irish border problem as part of trade talks is effectively re-stating a problem without offering a solution.
Mr Johnson wants to leave the EU single market and customs union, but that makes if very hard to maintain an ‘invisible’ border in Ireland which was only possible in the first place as a result of the UK’s membership of those institutions.
The backstop was an insurance policy that was required precisely because the UK side could not explain how it would preserve that open border, having refused the EU offer to put a ‘de-dramatised’ trade border in the Irish Sea.
Prominent supporters of Mr Johnson have recently created a package of ‘alternative arrangements’ that they admit will require some new checks in Ireland, but the truth is no-one in Dublin, Brussels (or Whitehall) is convinced.
Those arrangements were recently presented to the bilateral British-Irish Chamber of Commerce which witheringly concluded “that they lack credibility in the reality of how all-island trade actually works”.
An extended transition period, which has been mooted in some quarters, might provide time and political space to find solutions - but again, that transition offer only exists via Article 50, with all the financial and legal strings attached.
Which brings us back to a ‘no deal’ and Mr Johnson’s preparedness to go down the route in order to force the EU to compromise on some or all of the above - whether agreeing to time-limit the Irish backstop or perhaps a longer transition that obviates the need to ever use it.
Mr Johnson reckons that the EU will blink - to get their hands on the £39bn, to get shot of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party awkward squad from Brussels and to avoid seeing the UK plough its own furrow and make a fist of going it alone.
“If they force us into a WTO Brexit and we survive and prosper as I think everyone in this audience thinks we can, that will massively damage the credibility of the EU,” he says, “undermining of their own credibility and the project fear they have helped inspire.”
This is a seductive campaign narrative, and the EU side is fully aware that it will be blamed on the British side of the Channel if a ‘no deal’ does occur because Mr Johnson’s reasonable demands have not been met. Some in Europe even read his ‘plan’ as a coded request for a ‘no deal’.
But it is also noted on the EU side that the two cabinet ministers - Liam Fox and Michael Gove - who run departments directly affected by a ‘no deal’ are among its least enthusiastic proponents. In office, they wonder if Mr Johnon’s enthusiasm will wane too.
When Mr Johnson gets into the lonely cockpit of the highest office in the land, they bet he will blink too - and even if he doesn’t, the consequences of a ‘no deal’ will, sooner or later, force Mr Johnson to accept much that he now rejects.
Even the free trade agreement that Mr Johnson seeks in the event of a ‘no deal’ will come with heavy strings attached - on competition, state aid and regulations - to ensure the ‘level playing field’. This will be doubly so for an economy the size and proximity of the UK.
In short, the EU still sees a new British PM having limited room to move. A Northern Ireland civil service assessment paper released this week warned that a ‘no deal’ could cost 40,000 jobs in Northern Ireland, having a “profound and long-lasting impact on NI’s economy and society”.
In concrete terms, that means 1 in 5 jobs, up to £180m in lost exports to Northern Ireland and £120m in services trade; a sharp reduction in inward investment and all that before societal and political risks of reigniting a simmering sectarian conflict.
Such independent research might be dismissed as ‘project fear’ in an election campaign but, many in the EU privately surmise, will weigh rather more heavily on any British prime minister in the lonely sanctity of their private office.
Come October we shall find out.


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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #104 on: July 26, 2019, 02:15:09 PM »
Dear Prime Minister, please tread carefully in your handling of the Irish border
26 JULY 2019 • 1:00PM

Now that the campaigning has ended and the governing must begin, I wanted to write to you about the matter of the Border on the island of Ireland, which is close to where I live. Indeed, the Diocese of Clogher, which I serve, includes all of County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that my Diocese transcends the Border.
No doubt many others representing many people and interests will have communicated with you on this subject before. So I would first reassure you that I am writing as someone who has always recognised the almost impossible difficulties and stresses placed on those who have a vocation to public life, particularly politicians.
I cannot claim to represent a huge electorate or to have any specialist knowledge. But sometimes an individual should say things which might otherwise go unheard in the cacophony of other, better-known voices; the alternative would be to simply wither in the silence of exhaustion.
As Bishop of Clogher, I have a vocation to care for people on both sides of the Border and a responsibility to pray for both British and Irish Heads of State and their peoples, day by day. Although that is principally a spiritual job of work, it would be hypocritical of me to pray for something without actively working to achieve it. Besides, spiritual wellbeing needs a material basis on which to live.
So, although our priorities and the methods we use to achieve them may be different, I think it is fair to say that our goals overlap; nowhere more so than in the current difficulties surrounding Brexit and the Border, which (very worryingly) give every impression of escalating towards a crisis. For those of us old enough to have lived through longest civil conflict in post-War Europe, the very word “escalation” is resonant with overtones of lived horror and real tragedy. As such, it is reassuring that those in power on both sides have repeated their desire to find answers to the Brexit/Border conundrum problems that protect what has been achieved here since 1998.
What your Government chooses to do to that end will be inevitably one of historical magnitude.
Government’s role is to use the very substantial resources of the State to sift evidence, consider policy options and plan a way forward. In so doing it should take into account the needs of society as a whole, i.e. to seek the common good. In light of this, the worst thing a Government can be is irresponsible or careless. No Government should commit a country to a course of action in which the consequences were so opaque as to be incalculable. It would, therefore, be both logically and morally correct for a Prime Minister to give deep pause before allowing a no-deal Brexit.
But I principally wanted to write to you about the Border.
The Border and the problems which it poses for any form of Brexit are not only technical or technological issues.  Nor are they simply issues to do with trade or security matters.  Expressed in the starkest terms, the Border is the background against which all political and much cultural life in Northern Ireland (and in a more limited way in the Republic of Ireland) is worked out. Some people like the Border and others do not, but positively or negatively, consciously or unconsciously, it is pivotal to how politicians and people here assess almost all policy alternatives.
For this reason alone, any big change which has an impact on the Border is unavoidably complicated and inevitably charged with emotional and symbolic significance.
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After a period of relative obscurity, it now appears that everybody is fascinated by the Border. It is interesting, for a while, to be at the centre of the world’s attention. But on the whole I think many of us would rather have been left alone.
For a political border, it is very beautiful in places. That is largely because of the hundreds of small farms looked after by hundreds of sturdy farmers along its length. There isn’t much money in it for most of them, but if you ask them why they don’t move to somewhere less difficult to farm they say “You can’t roll up the land and take it with you”. The long term well-being of men and women like these, and their neighbours all along the border, requires and deserves a clearly spelt-out, sustainable agreement between both sides. This is so that they have not only that material basis necessary for civilised living but also hope for their children’s future. Neither peace nor prosperity are possible without hope.
I think it was the great English public figure and man of Letters Thomas Babbington Macauley who said of Ireland that “the molten lava of the past flows hot and dangerous under the thin crust of the present”.
The ground on which people build and grow in the Border region feels particularly fragile today. It is almost possible to feel the heat of the past burning the soles of our feet. So, please, in your consideration of the future of this place: tread carefully.  And with deep and genuine concern I would ask you to be very conscious of the legacy your Government will leave.
The Rt Revd. John McDowell is bishop of Clogher, a diocese that traverses the Irish border
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