Notes from a small field

Concise

Notes from a small field

Product recall


I recently asked my MP, Paul Holmes, whether he would be voting to break the Withdrawal Agreement which he had been elected to deliver. I suspect his reply was similar to most Conservative MPs and it confirms that he has decided to break his election pledge to deliver the Prime Minister’s oven ready deal.

“There has been much speculation about the Government’s commitment to treaty obligations and international law. I believe that some of the commentary has misrepresented the situation.”

It is not speculation that the government intend to break international law, it is a matter of record.

“The end of the Transition Period is fast approaching, and with no agreement yet reached, the Government has proposed a safety net to protect the Union and ensure that the UK’s obligations under the Belfast Agreement are met.”

The end of the Transition Period is fast approaching because the government chose not to extend the deadline, despite it being obvious that the UK will not be ready. The Northern Ireland Protocol is the safety net, which was specifically intended to protect the Belfast Agreement even in the case that no further agreement was reached with the European Union. The Government may have finally understood what it signed up to but however much Paul regrets the Prime Minister signing the Withdrawal Agreement, it is too late. You cannot unilaterally change an agreement between two parties without consequences.

“There is no reason why these provisions should undermine the future relationship negotiations with the EU.”

I wonder if Paul might want to reconsider this risible statement after sleeping on it. Perhaps he has noticed that the EU has begun legal proceedings against the UK.

“Remedying the unintended consequences of the Protocol may breach the Withdrawal Agreement in a limited way but the consequences of inaction could break up the UK. I hope you understand that while I remain fully committed to international law, I have a duty to protect the integrity of the Union – the overriding purpose of this Bill.”

Wow, those are quite some contradictions! If Paul was fully committed to international law, he would vote to uphold it. If he cared about the integrity of the Union, he might start by apologising for his complete lack of scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement before it was signed.

Instead of threatening to renege on the fantastic oven ready deal Paul was elected to deliver, the government could still protect the integrity of the Union by reaching a comprehensive deal with the EU which respects the wishes of NI, Scotland, and Wales, which have so far been completely ignored.

Before the election Paul said,

“For me, it is a question of integrity and honesty. I am the only candidate in this election who will deliver on the referendum result and get Brexit done.”

We’re still waiting Paul.

State of the Union


Well.

If there was any doubt about why Paul Holmes was dropped in as the Johnson candidate for Eastleigh, there isn’t any more.

Strangely MPs seemed to be debating an extension to the transition period even though the deadline for extending it has already passed, and Paul’s contribution, which he tweeted about, was similarly detached from reality.

“We are here all over again. The ability of SNP Members to focus on their narrow-minded, party interests at a time of national importance is becoming legendary.”


The SNP has a way to go before they can compete with the Conservative party’s world-beating track record of focusing on narrow-minded party interests.

This is a time of national importance, with a great many more lives at stake as winter approaches. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on improving the government’s handling of the current public health emergency, the Conservative Prime Minister decided to waste time, money, and effort on a self imposed deadline that the country will not be ready for. The oven ready deal seems to have been substituted for a no deal Brexit which is certainly not what the majority of people voted for in Eastleigh, Scotland, or the UK.

“If there was ever a sight that shows why we must protect the Union, it was the vision of a Labour party that could not be bothered to show up, with SNP Members behind those Benches. If the Labour party ever has the opportunity to form the next Government, it will be at the price of a referendum on independence to get the SNP onside. Conservative Members do not back that at all.”

I would be very interested to know why Scotland should even need to ask permission to have an independence referendum, when the UK was able to hold the EU referendum without asking.

“The SNP has not changed much in not respecting referendum results. It lost the 2014 referendum, and yet it pursues that agenda, with no thought to getting on with the day job in Scotland. SNP Members lost the 2016 referendum, but they are now trying by any means necessary to thwart the will of the British people.”


The SNP may or may not have changed much since 2014, but plenty of other things have changed. Most obviously, as a result of the 2016 referendum, the UK has left the EU. (Just to clarify that once more, given the accusations of thwarting, the UK has already left the EU.)

It’s also now very clear what Scotland’s place in the Union is.

“This debate is once again a thinly disguised attempt by SNP Members to undermine democracy—nothing else. The irony of that is not lost on me.”

The current Prime Minister unlawfully shut down parliament in a blatant attempt to undermine democracy—nothing else.

“If they voted for a deal when they were offered one—three times—we would not be here today.”

I’m not even sure what Paul is complaining about here. Is he complaining that, like the current Prime Minister and large numbers of Conservative MPs, the SNP didn’t vote for Theresa May’s bad deal?

We would not be here today if David Cameron hadn’t gambled the country’s, and his party’s, future to settle an internal political argument.

“Knowing them, however, we probably would be.

Like any good Unionist, I read the newspapers north of the border. In these difficult times, we all have to spend a few more hours at home, and humour plays an increasingly important role in making sure that we can all get by, so you can imagine my reaction, Mr Deputy Speaker, when browsing The National, I found the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) was quoted as saying that Scottish taxpayers were “footing the bill” as the UK prepared to leave the EU. Indeed, without a hint of irony, SNP Members are trying to claim that they would somehow save money by being out of the Union and part of the EU, when we know that public spending in Scotland is 17% higher than the UK average. Treasury figures, verified by the House of Commons Library, show that per head of population, Scotland receives £11,200; England, £9,200; and my constituents in Eastleigh, £8,600.”

I’m not entirely convinced putting a border in the Irish Sea is the action of a good Unionist. I seem to remember Theresa May having quite strong views on that before the current PM made a sudden u-turn to sign the EU Withdrawal Agreement at the last minute. (Hopefully Paul stands by the international agreement despite comments from one of the previous Brexit secretaries.)

It seems somewhat ironic to be complaining about SNP Members saying they would save money by being out of the Union, when that’s exactly the claim made on the side of a bus in the EU referendum.

“I will always lobby for resources for my constituency, but I accept that that difference is the price that my constituents pay because we are stronger together—and we are stronger together as one United Kingdom.”

I wonder if Eastleigh constituents accept that is a price is worth paying.

“We are stronger together culturally, with our shared history, and we are stronger together economically. It was this Government who introduced the coronavirus job retention scheme, which has protected the income of 630,000 people in Scotland. It was the Government of the United Kingdom who have supported 146,000 self-employed people through the self-employment support scheme, and it was this Government—the United Kingdom Government—who have provided over £2.7 billion to the Scottish Government for rates relief, small business grants and grants for businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.”

That’s all very nice but it makes no difference if people in Scotland choose independence. It’s not up to Paul or me what people in Scotland want, and I’m sure they would know what they were voting for.

“We need to ensure that we are prepared for Brexit and that our borders are fit for purpose. That investment will help us to maximise the opportunity created by Brexit as we continue to trade with our European partners and to forge new and exciting trade deals across the world.”

Paul seems to be confusing one small part of the ongoing cost of administering a border with more friction, with an actual investment. He is also somewhat vague about what the opportunity created by Brexit is. Eastleigh’s previous MP was unable to explain what the benefits of Brexit were when I asked, and I doubt Paul ever will either.

“While the SNP like to reject referendum results—the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) said that it was a narrow gap, but I do not think that 10% is a narrow gap—I take the expression of my constituents’ will seriously. It is a shame that the SNP do not do that for their constituents. My constituents in Eastleigh voted to leave the European Union, and I will support the Government as we make good on our promise to leave the EU and seize the opportunities presented by global Britain.”

Just to clarify, here’s some of what Eastleigh constituents voted for over the last few years:

  • 2015 – Five years of Mims Davies as MP and David Cameron as PM (something about not wanting chaos if I remember correctly)
  • 2016 – To leave the EU (54% which polling showed had dropped to 49.3% by 2018)
  • 2017 – Five years of Mims Davies as MP and Theresa May as PM (something about being strong and stable)
  • 2019 – Five years of Paul Holmes as MP and Boris Johnson as PM (something about being oven ready)

We’re getting used to being disappointed; we didn’t even get Mims for the full five years! At no point did we vote for any specific Brexit, and certainly not Brexit at any cost.

The Conservative party has never respected the referendum result, or sought to build a consensus on a new relationship with the EU. Instead they have treated the referendum, the UK, and particularly remain voting Scotland with utter contempt.

As for promises, the Prime Minister made very clear promises to EU citizens during the referendum campaign which has not kept. Similarly, Paul Holmes made a commitment to EU citizens in the last election campaign which he has so far not kept either. The way EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU have been treated by the government since the referendum is beyond shameful.

The increasingly likely no deal end to the transition period at the end of the year is nothing like what was on offer in the referendum.

“The SNP should focus on the day job to fix the lack of educational attainment that harms Scottish children; to fix their dire record in government and public service; and to stop the political gimmicks.”

It would be nice if Eastleigh’s MP could focus on his day job instead of complaining about Scottish MPs representing their constituents, or complaining about decisions made by local politicians. There’s a likely second wave of Coronavirus coming, and the country needs to get ready for Brexit at the same time.

“We deliver; they delay.”

This would be funny if the government’s ongoing dither and delay in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic wasn’t causing thousands of unnecessary deaths.

“It is time to get Brexit done, and I will vote against the motion this evening.”

Brexit wasn’t done by last Christmas, and it won’t be done by this Christmas. We have however already left the EU, and there isn’t anything MPs can do to delay the end of the transition period now even if they wanted to. Let’s hope we don’t all come to regret that.

 

Respecting the referendum


After the government announced it would be ending freedom of movement abruptly on the 31st October, I asked my MP Mims Davies about the referendum pledge to automatically guarantee the same rights for EU citizens after Brexit.

June 1st 2016:

There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK.

These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.

Vote Leave

Boris Johnson

Priti Patel

Michael Gove

You may recognise the names. The prime minister and two cabinet colleagues. It’s a pretty clear pledge, which is not compatible with the current settled status scheme.

Mims had made her own pledge on citizen rights so I thought she might be willing to help.

Here’s her reply, impressively ignoring the premise of the question:

Dear James,

Thank you for your recent email, further to our communications over Twitter. I hope you are well and do thank you for your energetic engagement.

As you rightly say, the rights of EU citizens living in the UK – as well as the rights of UK citizens living in the EU – is a matter that I have taken incredibly seriously, raising questions in Parliament, meeting with constituents both in Parliament as well as locally in the constituency, as well as meeting with Ministers on their behalf. My team have also supported constituents through the new settlement process and as ever will be there to continue that work.

The Prime Minister recently gave an unequivocal guarantee to the 3.2 million EEA and Swiss citizens and their families living and working in the UK that under this government they will have the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain here. I was very pleased the new PM did this swiftly and it was greatly welcomed.

This month, the Minister of State for Security, Brandon Lewis MP, made clear this Government’s continued support for EU citizens, writing the EU Settlement Scheme offers them the security theyrequire, enabling them to continue living in the UK after we leave the EU, with the same rights to work, study and access benefits and services as they have now. The secure online status granted to them under the Scheme will make it quick, easy and convenient for them to evidence their rights at any point in the future.

As you know, the UK is leaving the EU on the 31st October, however, deal or no deal, EEA and Swiss citizens will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This process is quick and straightforward, and I do welcome the Government is putting significant resources into ensuring that those that haven’t already applied to the scheme do so and if required supported through the process.

I will also be providing a full update on my website & on my Facebook – together with attachments and useful information.

Kind Regards,

Mims

Mims Davies MP

Member of Parliament for Eastleigh

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA | 020 7219 6853 |www.mimsdavies.org.uk

If true, it’s great that her team is helping people through the application process. There obviously wouldn’t need to be an application process if her government was respecting the referendum. Perhaps they’ll also be able explain how the new settled status is less favourable than the current rights of EU citizens, if their settled status application is successful of course.

Despite endlessly preaching that we cannot pick and choose, and that we must respect the referendum, it appears picking and choosing is fine if you’re the ones who made the promises to win the referendum in the first place. Message received.

Contempt of democracy


My MP. Mims Davies, recently emailed her latest Brexit update to Eastleigh constituents but if, like me, she didn’t send it to you, don’t worry; it didn’t say anything new. In fact, despite my response to her last update, it contains the same specious claims as before: control, borders, money, citizen rights, jobs, etc. I guess she didn’t read my letter.

It would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious, unfortunately it looks like Mims is going to carry on spreading the same misleading alternative facts as the prime minister until the bitter end. It’s this complete contempt for democracy that has got us in to the current mess and, whatever happens on the 29th March, it’s not going to end well.

Both leave voters and remain voters have legitimate concerns about democracy and respecting the referendum, and both are right to feel aggrieved because we have all been treated with utter contempt from the very beginning. Starting with David Cameron’s reasons for giving us a referendum.

If you think the EU referendum had anything to do with a genuine concern for what the country wanted, ask yourself why there wasn’t a referendum on something the country actually cared about before 2016. For example, austerity, or the NHS.

No, David just wanted to solve a problem he had with the Conservative party, and protecting the conservative party has featured just as strongly in the self inflicted crisis ever since then.

Having called for a show referendum it would have been nice if MPs had taken it seriously but unfortunately they proceeded to treat the whole thing with just as much contempt as the prime minister had. No need for a threshold on such a constitutionally significant question because it’s just advisory. That turned out well didn’t it.

Happily we don’t need to say too much about the actual referendum campaign, suffice to say it was universally awful.

And the result of trying to unite the Conservative party was a toxic narrow victory for leaving the EU, which looks like it has successful divided the country for a generation. It’s also worth noting the result is unsafe but since it was advisory, who cares?

Things looked bad, but even at this stage David could have built a sensible consensus on the way forward that truly respected the narrow win for leaving the EU. Dave? Dave?

Oh.

David Cameron outside number 10

Photo: Open Government Licence v3.0

Things really took a turn for the worse when Theresa-totalitarian tendencies-May moved in. Respect for democracy? Don’t make me laugh! From the outset, this was her chance to get rid of all those pesky foreigners that she’d been failing to keep out for her entire career.

Obviously triggering article 50 without a plan and calling a snap election makes perfect sense. Who wouldn’t give up their best (only?) leverage and waste a good chunk of the subsequent two year deadline just to lose your majority?

Having made these unforced errors, the contempt for democracy shifts up a gear. She hasn’t once behaved as if she lost her majority. In attempting to ram her own personal Brexit through, she has trampled over parliament at every opportunity. Mostly successfully to MP’s great shame.

Talking of shameful MPs, my MP is now essentially voting to leave the EU on 29th March with no deal. I would really love to know how she thinks this is in anyway a good thing for the UK or her Eastleigh constituency.

She still talks of 17.4 million people as if that number still exists, rather than being a fleeting coalition of people projecting their own vision of leaving onto the blank canvas of the leave campaign. What she’s actually doing is fuelling that belief that democracy is frozen in time in 2016 and must be respected at all costs, rather than being an ongoing process. It’s a dangerous illusion that will surely fail when people realise that none of the promises made in 2016 have been respected.

No one voted for the kind of Brexit that we’ll get if we leave the EU on the 29th March without honouring our international obligations.

Since MPs have so spectacularly failed to do their jobs over the last two years (obviously with some notable exceptions) it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go back to people with the options that are actually available.

Sadly Mims is not the only one to characterise a referendum on Theresa May’s own personal Brexit deal as a Second Referendum. Perhaps she’s confused because MPs have already had two chances to vote on the deal, but the rest of us haven’t even been given our first opportunity to provide our informed consent. In the unlikely event that the people voted to remain in the EU at this stage, how is that in any way disrespectful of the people in 2016? Or was the snap election disrespectful? It’s hard to keep up on what is democratic and what isn’t.

None of this is going end well, whether we eventually leave the EU or not. Thanks to a persistent pattern of contempt for democracy by a large number of people in the UK, including my MP, the mother of parliaments is not looking well. I fear that it’s almost too late to save her.

Dissolution of Parliament (Permanent) Bill


A

BILL

TO

Confer power on the strong and stable Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament indefinitely.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

  1. The Prime Minister may dissolve parliament.
    (1) Once Parliament dissolves, Her Majesty may not issue the proclamation summoning a new Parliament.
    (2) This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 or any other enactment.
  2. Short title
    This Act may be cited as the Dissolution of Parliament (Permanent) Act 2018.

The Houses of Parliament, seen across Westminster Bridge

Photo By Adrian Pingstone

EXPLANATORY NOTES

What these notes do

These Explanatory Notes relate to the Dissolution of Parliament (Permanent) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 13 June 2018 (Bill 132).

  • These Explanatory Notes have been prepared by the Department for Exiting Parliamentary Democracy in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

  • These Explanatory Notes explain what each part of the Bill will mean in practice; provide background information on the development of policy; and provide additional information on how the Bill will affect existing legislation in this area.

  • These Explanatory Notes might best be read alongside the Bill. They are not, and are not intended to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill.

Overview of the Bill

  1. The Dissolution of Parliament (Permanent) Bill (“the Bill”) has a number of clauses which you do not need to concern yourself with. A summary of, and background to, the Bill is provided below.

  2. The Bill would give the strong and stable Prime Minister power to dissolve Parliament indefinitely.

Policy background

  1. The European Union Referendum Act 2015 (section 1) provided for the question of whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union to be put to a referendum. That referendum took place on 23 June 2016. A majority of those who voted in the referendum voted in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

  2. On 2 October 2016 the strong and stable Prime Minister announced that the Government would commence the formal process of leaving the European Union before the end of March 2017.

  3. The formal process of leaving the European Union was commenced on 29 March 2017.

  4. On 18 April 2017 the strong and stable Prime Minister announced her Government’s intention to hold a snap election to put a stop to the political gameplaying that was threatening the will of the people.

  5. On 8 June 2017 the people voted to twart the will of the people making the strong and stable Prime Minister’s job of delivering the will of the people, which she is very clear about, bloody difficult.

Legal background

  1. The procedure for withdrawing from the European Union is set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (‘TEU’). The first step in the procedure is for the Member State that has decided to withdraw to notify the European Council of its intention (Article 50(2)).

  2. In R (on the application of Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2017] UKSC 5 the traitorous Supreme Court considered whether it would be inconsistent with the terms of the European Communities Act 1972 for the strong and stable Prime Minister to give notice to the European Union, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty of the European Union, of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU Treaties, without a prior Act of Parliament. In an 8‐3 judgment the traitorous Supreme Court concluded that a prior Act of Parliament is required. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was intended to provide the strong and stable Prime Minister with the necessary power to give notice of withdrawal under Article 50(2) however this is yet to be proved in court.

  3. The traitorous Supreme Court also considered arguments relating to the devolution acts and whether consent of the devolved administrations is required before notice to withdraw can be served. The unanimous decision of the court was that EU and other foreign affairs matters are reserved to the UK Government and Parliament and that the devolved legislatures do not have a veto on the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU.

Territorial extent and application

  1. This Bill extends, and applies in relation to, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  2. The Government does not care whether any provision gives rise to the need for a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Fast-track legislation

  1. The Government intends to ask Parliament to expedite the parliamentary progress of this Bill by voting in favour without any debate. It would be a terrible shame for the strong and stable Prime Minister to have to leak any of the emails she has intercepted over the course of her career. In their report on Fast‐track Legislation: Constitutional Implications and Safeguards, the Undemocratic House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution recommended that the Government should provide more information as to why a piece of legislation should be fast‐tracked but the Government is not interested in what the Undemocratic House of Lords recommends.

Commentary on provisions of Bill

Clause 1: Power to dissolve Parliament

  1. Clause 1(1) provides power for the strong and stable Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament

  2. Clause 1(2) provides that the powers in clause 1(1) are conferred regardless of any restrictions which may arise from any other legislation.

Clause 2: Short title

  1. Clause 2 confirms the intended short title of the Act.

Financial implications of the Bill

  1. By avoiding the high costs of running Parliament and elections, the Bill is expected to save £350m per week which we could spend on the NHS

Compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights

  1. It is considered that the provisions of the Bill would allow the strong and stable Prime Minister to completely remove the Convention rights.

 

 

 

Trust in me. Trust in meeeeeee.


Rant alert. Look away now!

Trust me, I’ll take back control — but I’ll need your help

Teflon Theresa, zombie leader of the current UK zombie government, needs a bit of help. All that kicking cans down the road can take it out of a person. Putting off the inevitable is kind of understandable since she has zero chance of making anyone happy when we leave the EU, whether they voted for Brexit or cake.

So, how can we help?

Amid all the noisy debate and technical discussions about our departure from the European Union, I want to take this opportunity to remind the British public of my mission in the negotiations.

Now is not the time to get distracted by tiresome technical details like gravity. We’ve got plenty of time to worry about those in the next 10 years, 45 years, however many years it takes to sort out the mess I’m making of this.

Brexit provides the opportunity to build a new relationship with the EU where we are close trading partners and strong allies but with the British Government in control of our laws, our immigration policy and how taxpayers’ money is spent. It provides the opportunity to develop closer relationships with fast growing nations around the world. And in doing all this we will put the values that make us so great as a nation at the forefront: openness, tolerance, diversity and innovation.

Obviously not as close, or as strong. I don’t like other people telling me what do do. Once I’ve got rid of the ECJ, the ECHR, the Lords, those pesky MPs, and the judiciary, I’ll be able to decide exactly how to spend all the money. It won’t be on you, sorry.

Obviously I’m very open and tolerant of the right kind of people, but I will find diverse and innovative new ways to be hostile to everyone else.

You can trust me to deliver.

I triggered Article 50 exactly when I said I would, because I’m strong and stable. There will definitely not be any more elections.

I will ensure that we take back control of our borders. The public want their own Government to decide on the number of people coming into Britain from across the European Union and that is what we are going to do.

I’m very good at controlling borders, just not when it’s my actual job, or my responsibility, or when I’m running the government. I’ve been very clear that I will find someone to blame if anyone does manage to get into Britain from Europe. Except in Northern Ireland of course, where I get a bit confused about taking back control of borders.

I will ensure that we take back control of our money. We have agreed a settlement with the European Union and the days of vast contributions from taxpayers to the EU budget are coming to an end. So Brexit means there will be billions of pounds that we used to send to Brussels which we will now be able to spend on domestic priorities, including our National Health Service.

There is no magic money tree you know, and the magic money bus only delivers to people who keep me in power, so don’t get your hopes up. Boris told me to say that we could spend some money on the NHS but we’ve already made lots of other promises about maintaining EU funding with that money and spending it on the NHS would only encourage people to be lazy about staying healthy.

I will ensure that we take back control of our laws. So Brexit means that, while we may sometimes choose to take the same approach as the EU, our laws will be made in Westminster, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, with those laws tried by British judges.

I’ve been very clear that it’s not possible for me to break the law. I will just keep changing it until I get my way and, while we may sometimes choose to give the impression of an independent judiciary, our legal system will not be properly funded and judges will be accused of being the enemy of the people if they step out of line.

We will leave the Single Market because staying in the Single Market means continued free movement of people, but we will maintain the strongest possible trading partnership with our European neighbours and create new trade deals around the world ensuring that we seize the opportunities to build an economy that works for everyone.

Did I say everyone? I meant everyone with money in a tax haven. There might be a slight interruption in service as we attempt to renegotiate trade deals with countries that already have trade deals with the EU. I’m sure everyone will recognise the UK’s proud tradition of trade around the world and reward us with the trade deals we deserve.

We will get a fairer deal for our farmers and fishermen by leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, regaining control over access to our waters and safeguarding the interests of the UK fishing industry.

British fish will at last have British passports. And if the US can build a wall across a continent, we can easily build one to protect our territorial waters.

We will take back control of our social policy and our tax policy so rather than being decided in Brussels, we will decide them in the interests of ordinary working people in Britain.

I know I sometimes claim to care about the just about managing but I’m very proud of our country’s anti-social policy and rotten tax system. I hope you’ve been enjoying austerity because you haven’t seen anything yet.

And we will leave the Customs Union so we can establish our own independent trade policy and negotiate trade deals in our interests. I have proposed different options for a new customs arrangement with the EU and the government will continue to develop them during the negotiations.

We should have agreed on the kind of customs arrangements we wanted with the EU before triggering Article 50 but it turned out we couldn’t. We still can’t agree. We will continue to develop our proposals until enough people agree that we are never going to agree. Even if we could agree on one of the current innovative proposals, the EU has already told us that they don’t agree. All very agreeable I think you’ll agree.

I have three clear tests for the outcomes that we want to see.

Let me be clear.

First, as a proud unionist and Prime Minister of the whole United Kingdom I am clear that any deal with the EU must protect our precious union and also honour the agreements that were reached in the historic Northern Irish peace process. This means there can be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. We will uphold the Belfast Agreement in full – and we will ensure the constitutional and economic integrity of the whole United Kingdom.

We’ll definitely be taking control of all the other borders, just not the one with Northern Ireland because that one turned out to be much trickier than anyone who didn’t care about peace realised. We’ll probably create a quantum border in the process. How innovative is that?

Second, any agreements must create as little friction as possible for trade to protect the jobs that rely on speedy and integrated supply chains. These are a valued part of our economy, particularly for our manufacturing regions.

And I care deeply about manufacturing and those regions that do that manufacturing where ever they are.

And third, we must not constrain our ability to negotiate trade agreements with other countries around the world by being bound into a customs union as the Labour Party would have us. We must be a Global Britain that makes the most of the opportunity to create jobs and growth by trading ambitiously with partners across the world, old and new.

It would be much better to be entirely constrained by our own incompetence than admit that we could already be a Global Britain that makes the most of the opportunities that we already have.

I have put forward a plan to negotiate all these outcomes and to leave the European Union. Throughout this process I have tried to balance the legitimate concerns of those on both sides of the debate and I believe that our negotiating objectives answer those concerns.

I tried to balance the legitimate concerns of those on both sides of the debate but then I remembered that you lost and should have got over it by now. Traitors.

The path I am setting out is the path to deliver the Brexit people voted for. Of course, the details are incredibly complex and, as in any negotiation, there will have to be compromises. But if we stick to the task we will seize this once in a generation opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain that is respected around the world and confident and united at home.

You may have noticed that I’ve already made a few compromises along the way. Like the ministerial code for example. There will definitely be more. Whatever happens I will claim that we have delivered exactly the Brexit people voted for. I am the only one who can know the will of the people.

If we stick together and crush the saboteurs we will seize this once in my lifetime opportunity to create a totalitarian regime in the UK that is feared around the world and hostile at home.

I will need your help and support to get there. And in return, my pledge to you is simple: I will not let you down.

I will not let you down again. Strong and stable. Strong and stable.

Lies, damned lies, and more damned lies


It was tough to settle on just the one rant today but the general election had barely been announced before I spotted the first reminder on twitter about the Lib Dems broken tuition fee promise…

Yep, no arguments there. Broken promise. Bad. Still, Nick Clegg did actually apologise, which is something. And, to be fair, Labour had already let students down on tuition fees. Is that broken promise a good enough reason not to vote Lib Dems though?

I guess it’s hard to quantify or compare broken promises. (I’m not a student, although I have another reason for caring about tuition fees who is rapidly growing up.) Having said that, there seem to have been a few broken promises about lately. “We say: yes to the Single Market”, “Let’s give​ our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week”, “There should be no general election until 2020”, and so on.

Perhaps if the only dishonest politicians were Liberal Democrats, I might vote for a party that supports brexit. (More likely I’d spoil my ballot again.) Back in the real, post-truth, world, I’ll probably be voting for the only pro-EU party I can.

350 million squirrels


If you’re unfortunate enough to follow me on twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I’m currently just a bit grumpy about the UK’s crazy course towards the worst possible exit from the EU.

To be clear, unless someone can convince me otherwise (I’m still waiting for a reply from my pro-brexit MP), I will be voting to remain in or rejoin the EU at every available opportunity. I’ll also be at the Unite for Europe march on the 25th March.

But the thing that really makes me grumpy is the lack of any kind of sensible opposition. What usually gets me yelling at clouds is when someone pops up moaning about the pledge to spend more money on the NHS. (Apparently some people don’t think the bus was really misleading but the billboard seems less ambiguous.) The whole thing reminds me of a larger scale version of distracting a toddler. Oooooo, look, squirrel…

Photo © Patrick Wagstrom

Even if, and this is clearly never going to happen, the current government suddenly do decide that they’ll give any of the supposed £350 million to the NHS, it kind of misses the bigger picture. That £350 million is already worth less than when it was plastered on the side of a bus and we haven’t even started to leave yet. Pointing out that the Conservative manifesto included a commitment to the single market would probably do more to help the NHS than complaining about a bus. Actually ensuring MPs get a meaningful role in shaping the UK’s future relationship with the EU might also be a good idea. There are plenty of issues that will impact the NHS at least as much as extra funding, all of which deserve more scrutiny than they are going to get as things stand. For example, the European Medicines Agency or staffing from the EU. I’ll stop before this turns into even more of a rant but the point is that Brexit could mean anything and it’s about time we started taking it seriously.
It’s not that I don’t have a problem with misleading busses. For some reason you can get away with saying whatever you like in a referendum, which needs to change if we’re going to persist in having them. I’d personally prefer never to have another referendum again but if we must have one, perhaps it could be on the NHS? Unless the government know the will of the people on that as well.

Epic referendum fail


 

Arg. I had been mostly managing to avoid looking directly at the referendum, unfortunately a ‘myth buster’ and some ‘facts’ dropped through the door today.

FACT: Adding ‘FACT:’ in front of anything you like doesn’t make it a fact!

I know, life would be so much more fun if that did work…

Sadly there has been a distinct lack of facts from both sides of the debate. If I’m being charitable, that could be because the whole thing is a massive unknown. The substitute has not exactly been constructive though.

Perhaps it would have been better not to have the referendum at all? Our recent track record of referendums hasn’t exactly been stellar, and the EU referendum in particular is even more problematic. Perhaps we could all agree to stop having referendums whatever the result is this time. Or would we need a referendum to decide that?!

I did at least spot a couple of more interesting looking articles during the predictably depressing campaign:

Plus this discussion on twitter:

I know that the EU is far from perfect but unless I hear any compelling reason otherwise, I think I’ll be voting remain on Thursday. There are probably pros and cons for either choice but ultimately where you draw borders is so completely arbitrary that I’d personally prefer to live in a larger area that allows free movement of people, than a smaller one. I don’t want to live in a gated community for similar reasons!

I also tend to agree with Ben Goldacre’s reasons.

Having said all that, the real issue of the whole campaign is, why isn’t the official leave site on a .uk domain, and why isn’t the official remain site on an .eu domain?

Update: Uh oh…