Sunday 27 December 2020

Brexitwatch: Write to Labour again!

Disappointing to have had no reply to my email to Sir Keir Starmer (who happens to be my MP) urging Labour to vote against any Tory Brexit that fails to fully satisfy Labour's 6 tests. (see my post of December 6.)

So I'm having another go - see below. If you don't want Labour to back a Tory Brexit and be disqualified from complaining about its damaging effects, you should write to Sir Keir and your Labour MP if you have one.

Dear Sir Keir, hope you had a good Christmas. I am disappointed not to have received a reply to my email of 6 December (see below) particularly as I keep reading that you are going to instruct Labour MPs to support Boris Johnson's dreadful Brexit 'deal'. 

Every day, new details emerge of how it will damage people's lives, but if Labour votes for it, you will be disqualified from criticising its effects. Imagine the scene :

'He used to be Captain Hindsight, Mr Speaker. Now he's been demoted to Sgt Turncoat! Just a few days ago, he and the party opposite voted for our historic agreement with the EU. Now they're against it! I know he's a lawyer, who changes his brief as often as he changes his briefs, Mr Speaker, but he's no leader. Britain needs leadership, and the party opposite have shown once again that they're shallow, unprincipled opportunists, who have nothing to offer our country.'

In 2018, you promised me Labour would vote against any 'deal' that did not satisfy all its six tests. This one comes nowhere near. You should keep you promise and urge Labour MPs to vote 'no' to Johnson's deal.


John Withingon

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Brexitwatch: WORLD EXCLUSIVE! that historic Johnson-Macron phone call.

 'Bonjour Emmanuel, j'ai un peu de difficulte, Brexit-wise, avec les tete-bangeurs de l'ERG.'

'Very good, mon ami, but let's parler anglais. You'll find it easier.'

'Right, well, look, You know that I know as well as you know that Brexit is a merde-show, and that no-deal is even merder. But if I do a deal, those ERG-ers are going to come looking for my guts pour faire les garters.'

'Ne t'inquiete pas. I have an idea. We give them a petite saveur.'

'Of what, French cooking? I can't see how that'll work. Still, I suppose anything's worth a try. But no garlic.'

'Non! Non! A petite saveur of no-deal!'

'You mean confront them with reality! Mmmm, never thought of that, but how?'

'Well. This new variety of the Covid virus that is making you British get your culotte un peu twiste par le present. What if I were to use that as an occasion pour fermer the border. Proteger la France! Take back control, as you might say.'

'Mmmmm, yes. Lorries grind to a halt, park on every verge and pavement in Kent, village gardens turned to public toilets, impenetrable tailbacks miles long! Any Brits not driven mad by Brexit might start wondering if the ERG-ers are barmy!'

'And the opposition to a deal va disparaitre dans les airs.'

 'Vanish into thin air! Like Brexit promises the morning after the referendum. Brilliant! Why hadn't I thought of that?'

'Do you want me to answer that question'

'Er, no. Tu m'as sauvee la vie! Ferme la porte, et les ports, of course. Merci, Emmanuel.'

'Je t'en prie. Bye, bye no-deal. Hello surrender, er, pardon, world-beating agreement. Au revoir.'

Monday 14 December 2020

Brexitwatch: the last days of cake-and-eat-it?

I explained in my last blog (12 December) how Brexit is actually quite simple, and the consequences that flow from that for the UK are simple too.

Once we decided to leave, we could try to stay close to the EU, which would mean obeying most of its rules. Or we could have a more distant relationship which would make us poorer.

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives did not find this a very attractive choice, and have tried to shirk it for the last three and a half years by claiming there was some kind of magic have-our-cake-and-eat-it solution.

Johnson’s dishonesty, short-termism and general fecklessness has now left him painted into a very fight corner where the choice is between a rotten deal that makes trade with the EU a lot more difficult and the UK a lot poorer, and no-deal which makes trade even more difficult and the UK even poorer.

(Theresa May’s deal would have made us about 3% worse off than remaining; Boris Johnson’s deal (if he could get it accepted by the EU) would make us about 4% poorer, while no-deal would carry an eye-watering 8% penalty.)

He was supposed to finally take a decision between these unpalatable options yesterday, but once again he bottled it. But the decision and the abandonment of cake-and-eat-it can’t be put off beyond 31 December, unless Johnson takes another unpalatable action: seeking the extension to transition that he said would never happen ‘in any circumstances’, and which would enrage the Brexit fanatics who maintain him in power.


Saturday 12 December 2020

Brexitwatch: understanding the 'negotiations'

 'Miss! The EU's being mean to us!' Of all the Brexit bleats, is this the most pathetic, and the most demeaning for Britain?

For a start according to Brexiters, the EU can't be mean to us. 'We hold all the cards, they need us more than we need them, the German carmakers will make the EU give in,' and all the other Brexit lies you know and hate.

Unless you don't want to understand, Brexit is actually pretty simple:

The EU didn't throw us out. We, foolishly in my view, left.

The EU doesn't owe us a trade deal or anything else.

If the EU believes a deal with us is in its interest, we get one.

If it doesn't, we don't. 

The EU gets to decide what's in its interest, not us.

That was always the way it was going to be. Isn't it weird how those Brexiters who are most fanatical about standing up for what they claim to be the UK's interests in the 'negotiations' are the most outraged when the EU stands up for its interests?

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Brexitwatch: it's time Brexiters respected the referendum result

As a Remainer, I got plenty of abuse for allegedly refusing to 'respect' the result of the 2016 referendum. Let's leave aside for a moment the fact that the referendum was advisory not binding, that it had a gerrymandered electorate, that it was won by lying, cheating and possibly Russian interference.

What I wonder is why Brexiters aren't required to respect the referendum result? During the referendum campaign, they promised that 

we would stay in the Single Market 

we would be richer, with more money to spend on the NHS 

we would not in any circumstances leave without a deal 

we would get to vote on any proposed deal before we committed to leaving

there would be no border between Northern Ireland and the UK

there would be no disruption to trade

we would have a whole stack of new trade deals to start the day we left the EU etc, etc

With just 14 working days to the end of transition, we still have no idea whether we will get a deal or not. What we do know is that any deal we get will bear no resemblance to what the Leavers promised. The referendum was won by the deal the Leavers promised, not the lousy deal or no deal we are being offered today.

I want the referendum result to be honoured. I want delivery of the Brexit that was promised. If that can't be delivered, there is no justification for leaving the EU.


Sunday 6 December 2020

Brexitwatch: write to Labour

My MP happens to be the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer. Before the last election, he gave me a promise that Labour would vote AGAINST any Brexit deal that did not satisfy Labour's '6 tests'.

On 29 June 2018 at 22:55 STARMER, Keir wrote:

Sorry for the delay, John.

Yes, all six tests must be satisfied.

Otherwise, we vote against.
Best wishes, Keir 

The 6 tests can be found here.

There are few certainties about Brexit, but two things we can be sure of are that any deal Boris Johnson achieves will bear no resemblance to what he promised while he was conning people into voting Leave and that it will not meet the 6 tests - especially test 2: 'Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?'

Any deal Johnson agrees will seriously damage our country. It would be an act of monumental folly by Labour to support such a deal, and would disqualify the party from protesting at any of the many damaging consequences that would flow from it.

So I have written to Keir Starmer again (see below). If you agree with me, write to Keir Starmer. If you have a Labour MP, write to them too.

Dear Sir Keir,

I hope that you and your loved ones are well. 

You may remember that before the last election, you gave me an assurance (see below) that Labour would vote against any Brexit deal that did not meet ALL the party's six tests.

I am sorry to have to ask you to repeat the promise, but I keep reading disturbing reports that Labour plans to vote in favour of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, should he reach one. 

To put it mildly, it seems extremely unlikely that any deal he makes will satisfy the six tests, so can I have your assurance that Labour will not renege on its promise?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

John Withington

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Brexitwatch: 'My indecision is final.' Will Boris Johnson's dithering wreck the UK?

Boris Johnson has painted himself into a corner that allows only two unpalatable choices: accept a Brexit deal that breaks virtually every promise made by the Leave campaign or allow a catastrophic 'no deal' which could have any number of adverse effects including denying people the medicines they need to stay alive. (See my posts of Sept 27 and Oct 2).

It is a measure of how Johnson has been paralysed by this dilemma that his government has made no progress since I wrote about it two months ago, and now there is less than a month, and a month interrupted by Christmas holidays, before the transition period ends, and the UK has to face all the consequences of Brexit for the first time.

Now even the right wing Brexit fanatic newspapers are full of scare stories about how Brits who own holiday homes in Europe will be limited about how long they can spend there, how they'll face bigger bills, how insurance policies and driving licences aren't going to be valid anymore, how fishermen might 'take back control' of our waters but won't be able to sell their fish, how farmers will be bankrupted, how European freight companies will decide carrying goods to the UK is just too much hassle, etc., etc.

Of course, this has all been known about for years, but the right wing press had suppressed the stories, or derided them as 'Project Fear', hoping something would turn up. Maybe those German carmakers would finally ride to our rescue?

Johnson's inability to take tough decisions was notorious when he was Mayor of London. Now, faced with a much more crucial decision, he seems to be stuck in the Micawber position, desperately hoping that something will save him from having to choose between a rotten deal and no deal. It's the same approach he adopted with Covid - taking every decision too late. A failure for which many paid with their lives.

What price will the UK pay for his inability to take a decision over Brexit?