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Eurosceptic autism

Tory Eurosceptics consistently fail to define a workable Brexit strategy because they’re afflicted with a kind of political autism, a profound inability to see events from others’ perspective. Tory ministers have failed in negotiation & they’ll continue to fail until they begin to understand what they’re dealing with.
Conservatives cling to a false view that EU’s treaty framework and fundamental principles are negotiating positions to be bartered away in a late night haggling session. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The EU is a partnership of sovereign nation states, voluntarily co-operating within a framework of shared principles and ideas.
These fundamental principles and the treaties in which they are expressed are the glue that holds the EU states together, allowing them to share resources when necessary and to go their separate ways at other times.
The shared principles holding the EU together, such as the four freedoms, are of fundamental importance and they cannot…

How to end the Brexit chaos, a personal view

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The PM, unelected by voters or parliament, is threatening press ahead with no deal exit from the EU in defiance of MPs’ wishes. It's often assumed the PM alone has the power to decide whether to press ahead, request an extension or revoke the Article 50 notice. That's not true.

The constitutional position, reinforced by the Miller & Wilson cases, is that parliament has the sovereign power to decide and no act is legal without its approval. Parliament voted for Art50 in Mar 2017 and nothing can stop that now, so the argument goes. Not true.

No parliament can bind its successors & it's perfectly possible for the current parliament to pass an Act to repeal earlier statutes & revoke the Article50 notice.

But surely the PM alone has the power to issue a revocation notice? Not true. Parliament can decide who may issue notice on its behalf, when & how it's done.

If parliament decided the person who sweeps the floor is authorised to issue notice to the EU then…

Brexit, rejecting reality

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Imagine calling your phone providers to tell them you’ve had enough of their oppressive rules & tariffs and you’re cancelling the contract but you expect them to provide the same service in future, free of charge. How's that likely to work out?
Imagine calling your mortgage lender to tell them you’ve decided to tear up the oppressive loan contract, you won’t make any more payments but you expect them to let you to continue using the property. How do you think they'd react? Imagine cancelling your rental agreements on a property, or a lease for a car and telling the providers you expect to continue as if nothing had changed while ignoring the contract rules and refusing to pay anything.
A reasonable person would agree these are nonsensical propositions, certain to be rejected and sure to end in tears. Nobody in their right mind would propose such madness but that’s exactly what Brexiters propose Britain should do in respect of 50 years of treaties, agreements and joint v…

Fox's favourite Brexit chicken, USA style

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Fox's favourites, tasty chicken USA style, soon to be available here. NHS waiting lists and overpopulation solved at a stroke. Immigrants won't be around for long once they've tasted Fox's favourites. And as for those pesky Remainers, there'll be nobody left to complain about Brexit once they've sampled the Salmonella Special. Brexit means Wrecksit, you know it's a load of chickensh%t.

Brexit delay, EU must spell it out for Britain

Preparations for Brexit are in confusion as the divided Tory government struggles to get its business through a hung parliament. The Labour opposition is as divided, while both main parties face more defections to the Independent group of MPs. There isn't enough time to complete all legal & administrative steps for an orderly Brexit on 29th March. Senior government ministers accept a delay will be needed, the most frequently touted final exit date is the end of June. It's likely the arguments & the complex task of implementation may not be complete by then. There are serious risks of a disorderly exit causing harm to citizens, businesses, academic and civic organisations.

Tory ministers, like most UK commentators, ignore the inconvenient fact that Britain can apply for an extended time limit but the EU27 will decide the outcome and EU states have a very different view from feuding MPs. EU states are unlikely to agree on a temporary fix, to get Mrs Mayem out of her lat…

Why are politicans rewarded for incompetence & lies while citizens are punished?

J.E was a nurse, (name withheld) suddenly afflicted with a severe allergic illness. Her lifestyle and work options were unexpectedly limited and she was forced to rely on disability benefit to pay for rent and food. Her benefit payments were halted abruptly in 2016 when she failed to submit a 20 page form on time: “I was in too much pain to write,” she said. (Guardian, Ferguson & Savage 2018)

J.E. explained her difficulties to officials and was told she could take her time. Soon afterwards her landlord told her that her housing benefit had been stopped. Her disability benefits were cut-off because the form was submitted late. Her benefits were eventually reinstated, after weeks of desperate calls and letters. She survived by borrowing money. “The people who work at the DWP simply do not understand the reality of what it’s like to be disabled,” she said. She had been gainfully employed, paid taxes and national insurance until illness forced a dramatic change in lifestyle. She is ex…

Democracy under threat in Poland

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Poland's drift to authoritarian rule is beginning to cause problems in other EU states. Eleven extradition cases are held-up in the Dutch courts, while they ponder whether the defendants can expect a fair trial in Poland. Meanwhile, the Polish deputy justice minister launched an extraordinary homophobic attack against an Irish High Court judge, hearing the case of a Polish man, Artur Celmer. He is accused of illegal drug-trafficking and is fighting extradition back to Poland, claiming he can't rely on a fair trial in his home country. This case has been dragging on, in the Irish courts, since 2017 with no end in sight.

What caused EU27 courts, the EU commission and the European Court of Justice, to question the quality of justice in Poland? And why a is a Polish government minister flinging personal abuse at a judge in another EU state?

The Polish government has enacted a law giving politicians the power to sack judges, or discipline them, at will. This makes it clear to ever…

Brexit free Trade lies

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Enthusiasts for quitting the EU claim that British business will be liberated to trade freely with countries like China and India, implying that this is impossible now. My business experience, in India, shows that Brexit campaigners have got their facts, and their arithmetic, badly wrong. I know of UK, Dutch & German businesses which have traded very successfully in India and emerging markets for years, under EU rules that Brexiters claim are an obstruction to free trade.

Tories like Jacob Rees Mogg have suggested British business could benefit by dropping standards to Indian levels, with big savings for the UK. I saw shockingly hazardous working conditions, including child labour, in India. If Britain were to drop to that level we would see a rapid increase in workplace injuries, disease and welfare costs with litigation arising from injury claims.

One of the worst Brexit lies is that wages and living standards in general are driven down by immigration. Many immigrants are emp…

JRM's unregulated Brexit nightmare

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Brexit high priest Rees-Mogg argued, at the parliamentary Treasury select Committee, that there is a very long way to go in abolishing business regulations post-Brexit and “if it’s good enough for India, it could acceptable here”. Rees-Mogg is either deluded or he and his fellow Brexiters are planning serious harm to UK workers and consumers.

I've been to India on a number of business visits to look at practices in construction & manufacturing. I observed striking examples of the contrast between UK & Indian business regulation, as an active investor in modular construction systems with a professional interest in the industry in Europe and internationally.

I visited a large construction site near Faridabad where a series of tower blocks, average 20 stories, were being built. I found an astonishing lack of investment in equipment such as earthmovers, power tools, cranes or lifting gear, all of which would be found on a European project. Scaffolding consisted of poles lashe…

The dark secret heart of English law

I attended the High Court oral hearing into the Article 50 challenge last week. A dedicated group of Remain protestors waited outside, offering highly visible support. My esteemed friend Liz Webster, appellant, and her talented group sat in the gothic gloom of the High Court, waiting for justice. I’ll leave detailed commentary on the judgment to others, with greater expertise than mine, however I must comment on one aspect of the proceedings which I find particularly worrisome.

As one might expect, there were frequent references to the Constitution and constitutional procedures. The constitution is, allegedly, the bedrock on which all legal and administrative affairs are constructed. This fundamental body of British law and custom is, however, inaccessible to ordinary citizens. Lawyers can disagree about its meaning but the rest of us have little power to discern the substance of their arguments. This might seem like a minor complaint but I believe it exposes a serious structural flaw…

Britain hands control, to Ireland!

Voters may be surprised to hear the feuding Tory government is close to handing the final say on the UK’s EU exit treaty to a decision, by referendum, of the people of Ireland! This may seem incredible but it’s the logical conclusion of events now unfolding in London as the Tory party continues its farcical Brexit “policy”.

Tory cabinet ministers are bitterly divided over the precise meaning of Brexit, two years after the referendum which was supposed to settle the question. It’s now clear the referendum raised many more questions than answers. The main Brexit negotiations are between Tory government factions in London, trying, and thus far failing, to hammer out an agreed position.

The latest round of Tory Brexit conflict concerns the Irish border, which has defied all attempts at resolution in London. There is an irreconcilable conflict between the wish to sever links with the EU on one hand and, on the other hand, Britain’s commitments arising from the Good Friday Agreement and su…

How the 8th amendment vote was lost and won

The troubled history of the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution raises many questions about imperfect, democratic methods used to achieve lasting constitutional change, some of which are surprisingly relevant to the EU withdrawal referendum.

The Irish constitution, (1), is written in clear, easily understood language and published in booklet form. It describes the institutions of the republic and the basic principles upon which its laws are founded. Children are introduced to the constitution and encouraged to study it, in school. There is no equivalent document in Britain. There are many sources, collectively referred to as "the Constitution" but they are not readily accessible to citizens as a single, comprehensible document. The constitution of Ireland has been the focus of vigorous debate since its first draft appeared in 1937. Any proposal to amend the constitution requires a referendum of all registered voters. A simple majority of those voting is required to …