16 October 2017

Two men in a boat

Nice to see that Boris wears a suit and tie to go boating.


Panic stations?

Is there any point in Mrs May's last-minute dash to Brussels to meet Juncker and Barnier?  Mrs May and her colleagues do not appear to have an agreed position on:

  1.  the amount they are willing to pay as the divorce bill;
  2.  how to achieve a satisfactory outcome on the Northern Ireland border question;
  3.  what residency rights they are prepared to grant EU citizens remaining in the UK;
  4.  the length of a transition period after 2019 and the extent of ECJ supervision during that period (and, arguably, the need for a transitional period at all); and
  5. what kind of trading relationship the UK should have with the EU after Brexit.

Nor can they be sure that any answers on any of these issues will be acceptable to the House of Commons.

So what is Mrs May going to do in Brussels?  Juncker and Barnier are constrained by their terms of reference which prohibit any advance on trade negotiations until sufficient progress has been made on the first three points listed above.  And I fail to see how May and Davis can offer any solutions on those points.


13 October 2017

Sound advice

I rather doubt if  'Arry is to be relied upon for financial advice.  The Guardian reports:
The trouble with these cryptocurrencies is that expert opinion is so divided. In the sceptical camp, you have the likes of Kenneth Rogoff, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund; Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of one of the world’s largest banks, JP Morgan; and our own Financial Conduct Authority. In the other camp, there’s Harry Redknapp.
Yes, the football manager who recently departed Birmingham City is the latest celebrity to join the craze. “Proper excited about Mobile Cryptocurrency! I’m in, get involved!” tweeted Redknapp in support of Electroneum, which bills itself as “the first British cryptocurrency.”
Redknapp is free to speculate as he wishes, but the advice here remains the same: if you find yourself tempted to have a flutter on a cryptocurrency, lie down until the feeling goes away.

12 October 2017

The importance of planning and preparation

The Daily Record says it all:


Fiddling while Rome burns?

This appears to be a fruitless argument.  The Independent reports:
A new Brexit faultline opened up in the Conservative party after Theresa May appeared to slap down Chancellor Philip Hammond over how much the Government will spend preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
The Prime Minister said she has now set aside £250m to help prepare for Brexit, including a no deal scenario, with aides saying she would spend “whatever necessary”.
But earlier on Wednesday, Mr Hammond signalled he wanted to wait until “the last point” before authorising spending on ‘no deal’ preparations and appeared unwilling to discuss further funds.
There are now less than 18 months until Brexit day.  This is not enough time to make satisfactory preparations for a no-deal Brexit.  Here are three examples:
  1. The need for vast additional customs control facilities at Dover (and elsewhere).  The government cannot simply tarmac a few fields and call them lorry parks, nor erect a few portakabins and call them customs offices.  It would need to secure ownership (or at least lesseeship) of the land required, to deal with any planning considerations, to draw up specifications of the facilities needed and put them out to tender..
  2. The need for a huge increase in customs and immigration staff.  Where would all these people come from?  How would they be recruited and trained?  The government departments and agencies concerned are already under severe staffing pressures.
  3. The need to establish new and extended data processing systems, for example to record and process import duties, agricultural subsidies, immigration data.  And the government’s record with new computer systems is considerably less than inspiring.
In these circumstances, argumentation about when and how much money should be allocated to preparations for a no-deal Brexit would seem somewhat besides the point.


11 October 2017

Bow down before the genius

Look, the man is a second Einstein.  The BBC reports:
US President Donald Trump has challenged his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to an IQ test, in the latest sign of discord between the two.
He made the remark in a magazine interview when asked about reports that Mr Tillerson had called him a moron.
"I think it's fake news," Mr Trump told Forbes, "but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win."
No, it's not simply a case of mine is bigger than yours - that would be childish.  But from time to time Secretaries of State need to be put in their (subservient) place.


10 October 2017


Looking good

Seems fair enough:

World Rugby ranking
1. New Zealand - 95.52
2. England - 90.14
3. Australia - 85.59
4. Ireland - 85.39
5. South Africa - 85.03
6. Scotland - 82.47
7. Wales - 81.73
8. France - 79.63
9. Fiji - 79.48
10. Argentina - 76.93

But I would not put money on Scotland beating France or Fiji beating Argentina. 


Mud-like clarity

Mrs May's statement to the Commons on Brexit inspires The Guardian to philosophical musing:
“I have been clear,” she began. A sentence that invariably indicates she is about to activate the Maybot. Sure enough, what followed was a statement whose only real coherence was its incoherence. The lack of progress in the EU negotiations was a sign of just how much progress had been made. In fact, things were going so well she was now planning for no deal being reached. This was the new dynamic inertia in operation.
Some goals would be the same and some would be different. We would continue to love EU citizens apart from the ones we wanted to be a bit beastly to. Everything would be exactly the same apart from the things that would be a bit different.
“We are in an unprecedented position,” she whirred, her irony bypass intact. An unprecedentedly bad position. And one she was determined to make worse. Because what the EU had to realise was that even though it was adamant the ball was in our court, what they had failed to notice was that it was in fact in theirs. Brexit negotiations had come down to Schrodinger’s Ball. Both there and not there.
We are not really getting anywhere in the negotiations.  By accident or design?  And the clock is ticking ....


09 October 2017

"Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies"

She may think that she has the full support of her cabinet.  Me, I couldn't possibly comment ...


The not so invisible border

The Irish customs authorities are beginning to understand the complexities of the post-Brexit customs barriers between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.  The Guardian reports:

The ORC report says 13,000 commercial vehicles cross the Irish border with freight ranging from meat and dairy to Guinness, which travels from Dublin to Belfast for bottling and back to Dublin for export to the UK.
“Once negotiations are completed … the UK will become a third country for customs purposes and the associated formalities will become unavoidable,” it says. “While this will affect all member states, the effect will be more profound on Ireland as the only EU country to have a land border with the UK.”
It says customs checks will “have a negative impact on trade flows and delay the release of goods”.
“As all of these goods will be subject to the customs import procedure in the post-Brexit era, the administrative and fiscal burden on the traders involved cannot be underestimated,” the report says.
Despite claims that electronic checks could prove a solution, the ORC says this is unrealistic as some goods, such as animals and animal feed, will have to be checked under EU law.
Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) will not be enough, it says. “Regardless of any efficiency arising from an ANPR system, the inevitability of certain consignments being routed other than green and goods or documents having to be examined would still require investment in suitable facilities at all designated crossing points.
“Customs cannot permit the release into free circulation of goods or animals not already cleared by the relevant co-located border inspection post.”
Cargo will have to be fully inspected post-Brexit, and goods will not be released “until all customs formalities have been completed”, the report says.
Goods will be deemed to be in temporary storage once they arrive for customs checks. “In order to end temporary storage, the goods must be placed under a customs procedure or re-exported,” the report says.
It would be nice if the British authorities were equally realistic, instead of just hoping aimlessly for the best.


07 October 2017

Music of the week

Bit of a problem ...

How goes the preparation for the Brexit negotiations?  Not terribly well, according to The Times:

A Whitehall source said: “Downing Street is like the Marie Celeste. You’ve got a number of good civil servants trying to make this work but there is no political direction at the moment.”
Mrs May and her ministers have also been accused of being overoptimistic about Brexit talks over the next 12 weeks. A senior figure said: “We are in a monumental mess as a government. Massive choices need to be made but the Whitehall machine can’t begin preparing for negotiations on Brexit until cabinet ministers have decided what to do. At the moment the chances of success are slim. Ministers are being panglossian about the challenges, not wanting to get into the details, and assume something will come along and it will be fine. This could not be more serious.”

The lunatics are in charge of the asylum.


05 October 2017

Time to put her feet up?

Mocked, pitied, humiliated.  Why does Theresa May keep going as Prime Minister?  She surely cannot be enjoying life - at least not since the general election.  She is over 60.  Who needs the hassle of being the PM?

She has a house in Berkshire and a home in London.  She could retire on an annual pension of over £100K (as ex-Prime Minister and MP) and her husband as a City bigwig is presumably equally well catered for.  She would be entitled to a place in the Lords, if she wanted to continue dabbling in politics.

After yesterday's shambles at the Party Conference, she must be tempted to chuck it in.  And who would blame her?


Quote of the day

From The Guardian (here):
Theresa stared desperately at the lectern. She still had half of her speech to get through. What to do? The panic in her eyes suggested her first instinct was to make a dash for the exit. To wrap the whole thing up with a quick: “You know what? This isn’t working, is it? You’d rather be anywhere but here, I’d rather be anywhere but here, so why don’t we just cut our losses?”
But then she caught sight of the ambition reflected in the eyes of several members of the cabinet who were sitting in the second row and carried on. To piss them off, if nothing else.
Still though the words would barely come out. In the battle between Theresa and the frog in her throat, the frog was winning hands down. She tried another “The British Dream that. Is what I am in. Politics for” – but the frog just started laughing at her. Everyone else was just dying a bit inside. Along with her.
For a while the frog did give her a bit of a respite and she made a mad dash for the finishing line. But even though she was now speaking no one was really listening. They were just willing it all to end. For her to be put out of her misery.
As The Donald would say, Sad ....


04 October 2017


Theresa fights back?

Not very convincingly.  The Independent reports:
Theresa May will try to draw a line under weeks of turmoil by telling squabbling cabinet ministers to stop worrying about their own “job security” and focus on the national interest.
Ms May will tell her party she will not “hide from a challenge” and demand that after a lengthy period of soul-searching following the election that ministers “shape up”.
As the Sermon on the Mount has it, "why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" For did the Maybot not hide from the challenge of a leaders' debate during the recent general election? And did she not waste public money in protecting her own job security by making a deal with the DUP - was that in the national interest?


03 October 2017

Spanish practices

Should there be a read-across from Catalonia to Scotland?  Alex Massie in The Times thinks not.  For if we map the two together:
That means that certain rules must be observed. If you are Yes in Scotland you must be Si in Catalonia and that in turn means that if you’re No in Scotland you must have at least an inkling of sympathy for Madrid’s response to its Barcelona provocation.
Allow me to tell you a secret: you don’t have to play this game. The world is a complicated place and there is no great shame in admitting as much. Nor is there any disgrace in acknowledging that more than one thing may be true at a time. So the Spanish government’s iron-fisted response to its Catalan problem has actually been ham-fisted, but so too has the Catalan government’s own independence manoeuvrings. If Madrid has dirtier hands than Barcelona, that doesn’t mean that Barcelona’s hands are spotlessly clean. And those of us who live in Scotland have no need to pick sides in a fight that is not, in the end, much of our business.
On the other hand, do we just stand by and fail to condemn the brutality of the Guardia Civil in its dealings with ordinary European citizens?  Does that not mean taking sides?



02 October 2017

From Marr to Manchester

The Tory Party Conference gets off to a somnolent start.  The Guardian reports:
Theresa May was sat in the second row, her mouth locked in a frozen rictus smile, slowly dying inside. This wasn’t at all the birthday party she had planned. She’d always known the conference was never going to be much of a laugh, but she hadn’t expected the atmosphere to be quite this bad. Nor had her own performance on the Andrew Marr show done anything to raise anyone’s spirits. Apart from Boris Johnson’s.
Would she like to apologise to the Tory party for screwing up the election? Marr asked. “Let me be clear,” she babbled nervously, frantically trying to make her lips synchronise with the computer glitch that had switched her voice to fast forward. She was clear that she was focused on the business of government and that even though the election hadn’t gone as brilliantly as she had hoped it had still gone a lot more brilliantly than she had hoped.
The Maybot was up and running. Labour would cause a run on the pound, she said. “What’s happened to the pound on your watch?” Marr said drily. May looked bewildered. “It fluctuates,” she said eventually. As in downwards. She also appeared amazed at the possibility that inflations rises could be anything to do with her. Nor was there anything wrong with universal credit. So what if people weren’t getting their benefits for more than six weeks? Surely it was worth a few people dying for such a good cause.
There was a pause while a video clip of the prime minister insisting “Nothing has changed” during the election campaign was played. The Maybot nodded in approval. Nothing had changed. She was still hopelessly out of her depth, limited to mouthing mindless slogans that everyone but her knew to be untrue. The Florence speech had been a magnificent success and everyone was right behind her. Many of them armed with a knife. She had provided certainty. The certainty of uncertainty.
How long can this go on?


30 September 2017

Quote of the day

From Matthew Parris, former Tory MP (here):
This Conservative government is finished. Over. Toast. Dead meat. Broken. Sunk. Wrecked . . . all the words we use in place of a word we don’t. They can do what they like, think what they like, announce what they like, promise what they like but it’s useless now, it’s all too late.
On the morning after the last general election George Osborne called Theresa May a dead woman walking. If anything he understated. Her personal political death occurred on the pronouncement of the exit poll on election day. Reanimated the following morning, she’s now a zombie prime minister leading a zombie cabinet in a zombie party gathering in Manchester for a conference of the walking dead. Whatever these zombies’ message may sound like within the security zone, from outside we will only see mouths moving without sound or meaning. Their leader is done for and their credibility is shot.


The Guardian reports:
Ukip’s attempt to rebrand itself for the post-Brexit era experienced an early hiccup on Friday after a new party logo bearing a lion’s head prompted reports the Premier League was investigating whether it was too similar to its emblem.
The logo replaces the longstanding yellow and purple pound symbol, and was chosen by party members at Ukip’s annual conference in Torquay.
Its unveiling brought immediate comparisons with the Premier League’s logo, which also depicts a lion’s head.
The league said it had no immediate comment, but it is understood its internal legal team was aware of the issue and was looking into any potential breach of copyright.
As a logo, it would seem more appropriate for that unfortunate Welsh rugby player who tried to pat a lion on its head ...
But it provides me with an excuse for posting this:


Such a polite, sensitive, diplomatic chap

Boris puts his size 10s in it once again.  The Guardian reports:
The foreign secretary has been accused of “incredible insensitivity” after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January.
Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in the capital Yangon, when he started uttering the opening verse to The Road to Mandalay, including the line: “The temple bells they say/ Come you back you English soldier.”
Kipling’s poem captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he kissed. Britain colonised Myanmar from 1824 to 1948 and fought three wars in the 19th century, suppressing widespread resistance.
Johnson’s impromptu recital was so embarrassing that the UK ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Patrick, was forced to stop him. The incident was captured by a film crew for Channel 4 and will form part of a documentary to be broadcast on Sunday about the fitness of the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip to become prime minister.
The previously unbroadcast footage shows the diplomat managing to halt Johnson before he could get to the line about a “Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd” – a reference to the Buddha.
Fit to be Prime Minister?  You're 'avin' a laff!


"Island surrounded by water, big water"

You couldn't make it up:

29 September 2017

Poem of the day

The Times gets lyrical over the exchanges in the Scottish Parliament:

“It was incredible yesterday, was it not?” the first minister asked, shocked to discover that the Labour leadership contest was descending into internecine warfare. Jackie Baillie, you see, had said disobliging things about Mr Leonard and Mr Leonard’s team said this was just what you’d expect from Ms Baillie.
Quoting from a press release issued by Mr Leonard’s team, the first minister observed it was “just the latest Jackie Baillie . . . ” — here the first minister broke off, choking, unable to continue — “I cannot actually say it, presiding officer.” What filth could she not say?
Readers of a nervous disposition are advised to turn the page now. I am afraid to report the offending word was the Scottish vernacular rendition of micturition. Heavens! This dirt was a word that covers, Ms Sturgeon said, “much of what Jackie Baillie says in the chamber” (and, presumably, elsewhere too).
For not the first time my thoughts drifted to Philip Larkin. With apologies to the poet, it seemed to me that Ms Sturgeon meant to say:
“Talking pish began
In twenty seventeen
(which was rather late for thee)
Before the end of the fracking ban
And Runrig’s last LP”.
You don't get this kind of intellectual badinage at Westminster.  (Probably just as well.)


28 September 2017

Happy Birthday ...

... to Brigitte Bardot,  83 today.


Between a rock and a hard place

A little sympathy for Mrs May's travails on trade in aircraft?  The Independent reports:
Theresa May is "bitterly disappointed'' by the US government's decision to impose a 219 per cent tariff on a new model of passenger jet built by one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers, Downing Street has said, despite the Prime Minister personally lobbying Donald Trump on the matter.
Unions accused Ms May of being "asleep at the wheel" and said the US Department of Commerce's decision risked thousands of jobs at Bombardier.
The Canadian multinational employs more than 4,000 people in Belfast with many more jobs in Northern Ireland are supported through the manufacturer's supply chain.
So Mrs May's buttering up of President Trump has had little effect on the hard reality of "America First".  And her chums in the DUP will be less than pleased with her fruitless efforts.  Furthermore, Defence Secretary Fallon's toothless threats are likely to wash off Boeing's back, bearing in mind that it employs some 16000 British workers.

Furthermore, if the Tory government cannot sort out a such single-issue trade dispute, what hope for the more complex Brexit trade negotiations when they eventually take place?


25 September 2017

Unjustified boasting?

The Times gets carried away:
No league in the world can say they have got the strikers of the quality that we have in the Premier League, where there is Harry Kane, Sergio Agüero and Álvaro Morata. La Liga may have Luis Suàrez and Cristiano Ronaldo, but I would argue we have four of the top ten centre forwards in the world — Alexis Sànchez too, if he played more. We are really blessed. In the past, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry were sensational, but if you can pick a top goalscorer this season out of those four, you are a pretty good judge. They are all different types of centre forward, and a case could be made for every one of them. They are predators. We are very fortunate in the Premier League.
Really?  Spain has Ronaldo,  Benzema, Bale, Messi, Suarez, Griezmann, while France has Neymar, Cavani, Mbappe, Falcao, and Germany has Lewandoski, Rodriguez, Muller, Aubameyang.

Just as good as England ...


Sturm und Drang?

The German elections are not entirely conclusive.  The Guardian reports:
The country faces weeks of drawn-out coalition talks between the parties, about who will form a government with the CDU/CSU.
A repeat of the so-called “grand coalition” between Merkel’s conservative alliance and the SPD would amount to 354 seats – 316 are required to form a government – but was vehemently ruled out by Schulz, who in Sunday night’s post-result TV debate called Merkel’s election tactics “scandalous” and accused her of creating the political vacuum that was filled by AfD.
A second option is a “Jamaica alliance” – so called because the parties’ colours make up the Jamaican flag – between the CDU/CSU, the resurrected Free Democratic party (FDP) and the Greens, which would have 356 seats. But the constellation has never been tried in the national parliament before and is fraught with potential difficulty, not least a clash over environmental issues between the FDP and Greens and resistance in the FDP towards eurozone changes proposed by France’s president, Emmanuelle Macron, to which Merkel has given her backing.
In such circumstances, Frau Merkel is unlikely - for the next month or two - to be in a position to make any commitments on Brexit.  So negotiations on the exit requirements (the divorce bill, the position of EU residents in the UK and the Northern Ireland border) are likely to drag on interminably, while the initiation of discussions on future trading arrangements seems further away than ever.  All of which must increase the likelihood of a cliff-edge, no deal, catastrophic Brexit.


23 September 2017

Quote of the day (2)

Parris in The Times (here):
So we’ve put it all off for another two years or more. Well two cheers for that. And I do mean two cheers, and hearty ones. As with the Arabian Nights, so long as these bedtime stories can be prolonged, the planned beheading remains only a plan. Britain’s businesses can move from a period of anxiety about where we were headed, to . . . a second period of anxiety about where we are headed. This latter she called an “implementation” period, meaning a non-implementation period. What we shall be preparing to implement remains, as it always has been, a wish list.


Quote of the day

From The Times (here):
Our relationship with the EU has become like a failed marriage where one partner wants to leave but can’t afford to do so. Mrs May’s speech was the equivalent of suggesting that we sleep in separate bedrooms and make our own meal plans. The slogan on her lectern said “shared history, shared challenges, shared future” but at some point we will need to divide the CDs and decide who is responsible for the dog.
It was a generous speech in many ways. An “it’s me, not you” explanation for the impending divorce. “The United Kingdom has never totally felt at home in the European Union,” she admitted. A bit later she added that the EU didn’t want this divorce at all.
Well, they might if they have to listen to any more of her tedious speeches.

Florence and The Machine

A long way to go for not a lot.  The Independent summarises the MayBot's oratorical intervention in the Brexit negotiations:
Transitional deal til 2021. That’s what she wants. That’s all it is. Up to the EU now to see if they’ll let her have it. 
I suppose it's progress, Jim, but not as we know it ...


21 September 2017

Quote of the day

Theresa goes to the UN:
The world can breathe easily when Mrs May is at the podium. In fact, many of those delegates in the hall seemed to be relaxed to the point of catalepsy. Her speech coincided nicely with their post-lunch nap. The timetabling for this general debate at the UN was optimistic, as ever. Technically, four hours were set aside before lunch for 19 speeches, but it was 2.40pm before Mrs May, who had drawn ticket No 18, took to the stage. As a result, the hall was rather empty. Perhaps the UN canteen shuts at 2.30pm sharp.
In the front row of the British section, Boris Johnson was looking thoroughly fed up. For all his manifest flaws, the foreign secretary gives a good speech, even if you disagree with what he says.
It must be painful for him to sit through a plodding 20 minutes from the woman who bores for Britain.
He was probably contemplating the six hours that he was going to have to spend in the boss’s company on the flight home, when he would rather order a triple scotch and watch that new film about Churchill than listen to Mrs May seek assurances about his loyalty on Brexit. He clapped when he needed to, which wasn’t often, but sluggishly, as if his arms were trapped in a giant rubber band and he found it hard to pull them apart.


Black September

After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, we also have earthquakes in Mexico, off Japan, in New Zealand and in Vanuatu.

Is there something going on?  I think we should be told ...


19 September 2017

Headline of the day

From BuzzFeedNews (here):

It's Four Days Until Theresa May's Big Brexit Speech And It's All Going Really Well

Perhaps a little on the optimistic side?


18 September 2017

Holier than thou?

The Guardian reports on Cyprus' selling EU passports:
The government of Cyprus has raised more than €4bn since 2013 by providing citizenship to the super rich, granting them the right to live and work throughout Europe in exchange for cash investment. More than 400 passports are understood to have been issued through this scheme last year alone.
Prior to 2013, Cypriot citizenship was granted on a discretionary basis by ministers, in a less formal version of the current arrangement.
A leaked list of the names of hundreds of those who have benefited from these schemes, seen by the Guardian, includes prominent businesspeople and individuals with considerable political influence.
The leak marks the first time a list of the super rich granted Cypriot citizenship has been revealed. A former member of Russia’s parliament, the founders of Ukraine’s largest commercial bank and a gambling billionaire are among the new names.
The list sheds light on the little-known but highly profitable industry and raises questions about the security checks carried out on applicants by Cyprus.
But wait a minute!  Does the UK not do much the same sort of thing?  Again from The Guardian last July (here):
Officially called a “Tier 1 investor” visa in the UK, the scheme gives individuals residency in exchange for investing £2m in UK bonds or shares through a bank, with applicants eligible for indefinite leave to remain, and even full citizenship, after five years. That is, unless they can stump up more cash: those offering £5m can settle after three years, and those with £10m after just two.
Because the original investment is returned to the applicant along with any interest accrued, the state technically makes a loss on each visa. But supporters of the scheme argue that as well as an investment in gilts – effectively a loan to the government – the country attracts people with substantial sums of money to spend on goods, hire workers or pay taxes. 
It's a dirty business all round.

Quote of the day

From The Guardian (here):
“Do you think the foreign secretary’s intervention was helpful?” asked Marr towards the end of his interview with [Amber] Rudd on his Sunday morning BBC1 politics show. Rudd looked stoney faced. Probably because she was doing her best not to laugh. Since when had Boris done anything that might be described as helpful?
“Boris has an irrepressible enthusiasm,” she replied, choosing her words carefully. She must have felt like one of Prince Andrew’s teachers trying to find something nice to say about him in a school report. You could hardly tell the Queen that her favourite son was a bit thick, rude and badly behaved, so irrepressible enthusiasm would have to do as code.
Thus neatly hitting two birds with one stone.
And there is more:
Really, though, there is no mystery to the foreign secretary’s outburst. What defeats most politicians, in common with boxers, is time. For years, Johnson has been described as the Young Turk. Now, aged 53, he is merely part-Turkish.
It has been argued that Johnson’s long essay is low on substance and evades the gritty drudgery of deal-making. But that is the whole point. No senior British politician in living memory has believed so absolutely in the power of brio, charisma and will. He is the love child of Nietzsche and Wodehouse.

A fondness for porkies

There was once a time when a government minister accused of repeatedly telling lies by a reliable, independent and authoritative source would have had to resign.


17 September 2017

Are we making progress?

A great deal of attention has been paid to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, but little has been said about the other legislative commitments taken on by the government. Yet these other bills are equally necessary to avoid chaos on Exit Day (a mere 18 months ahead), equally controversial and, in some respects, more complicated than the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Will the government be able to get them through both Houses of Parliament in time?

The commitment was set out in the Queen’s speech:
A bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act and provide certainty for individuals and businesses. This will be complemented by legislation to ensure that the United Kingdom makes a success of Brexit, establishing new national policies on immigration, international sanctions, nuclear safeguards, agriculture, and fisheries.
My government will seek to maintain a deep and special partnership with European allies and to forge new trading relationships across the globe. New bills on trade and customs will help to implement an independent trade policy, and support will be given to help British businesses export to markets around the world.
On immigration, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, kicked the issue into the long grass by asking the Migration Advisory Committee to carry out a review of the matter and report back by September 2018. Are the six remaining months before Exit Day sufficient to put a bill through parliament and then get the immigration staff and systems in place to cope with whatever arrangements are needed? I rather doubt it.

Or take agriculture. The present support system is set by Brussels through the Common Agricultural Policy. As to what will replace it after Brexit, we have yet to hear a dicky bird from the government. But whatever domestic support systems are put in place, they may not differ one iota in outcomes from the CAP without endangering British agricultural exports to Europe. Does the government have any plans to address this issue? Who knows? The position is further complicated by the fact that whatever system is introduced will have to be administered by the devolved administrations.

We are equally in the dark about fisheries, about nuclear safeguards and about international sanctions. Yet we are promised bills in the next few months on each of these issues.

Perhaps it will all come right on the night. But perhaps not ...