Monthly Archives: December 2016

DONT BE HASTY MRS MAY

BRITISH PM AND THE SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER’S PROPOSALS ON BREXIT

DR FOX WOBBLES

Contrary to the constant moaning from her critics, Mrs May is slowly lifting the lid on her Brexit thinking, obviously without too much detail. Over the past day or two, in a statement to Parliament, and before the imperious and rather grand Mr Andrew Tyrie, and his select committee, we have been allowed an insight into some of her thinking. We hope that her promised further statement to Parliament in early January will provide more substantive fodder. 

While there can be no way that Mrs May can accede to the Scottish Nationalists demands, as outlined by the Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon today, it would be quite wrong for them to be dismissed out of hand. Certainly, much of what is in Ms Sturgeon’s latest shopping list is nothing but a thinly-disguised attempt to gain further substantial devolved powers, ie  de facto Independence.

Nevertheless, the majority of Scots voting to remain in the EU at the referendum was substantial. As much as one may admire and support Mrs May, and while we may agree that the proposals put forward by the SNP are unrealistic, the UK Government must be seen by all Scots to work with the Edinburgh administration to ascertain what common purpose they may be able to unite on in the Brexit negotiations. It is therefore gratifying that the UK Government has welcomed the publication of the SNP proposals and that they will be fed into its overall thinking on the British case to be put to the EU.

Put simply, Scotland’s perceived problems as a result of the UK leaving the EU may require a series of unique solutions, not necessarily those advocated by Ms Sturgeon, and many will hope that these matters will receive a more sympathetic hearing in London than has hitherto seemed to be the case.

Furthermore, while one may not disagree with the Scottish Tory leader Ms Ruth Davidson’s remarks on Ms Sturgeon’s proposals, these should not be based on the political opinion that the SNP could not win another independence referendum. We all know that polls are fickle and can change almost overnight. Most Scots, even Unionists, are nationalists at heart and have a marked affinity with the European continent which may not be shared to the same degree  by the other countries comprising the UK. What are Ms Davidson’s solutions to protect Scottish interests?

Many of those who watched the UK Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox’s interview on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show will be left wondering whether he is in the process of changing his stand on the single market and customs union. Rightly or wrongly, this seemed to be a no contest position for Fox, but many were left with the distinct impression that he may now be wobbling. Could this be down to the realisation that certain business sectors may be greatly disadvantaged otherwise? He wasn’t giving too much away.

Following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s lead, ‘Transitional’ arrangements are now being referred to by various ministers. Mrs May and her Gang of 3, Messrs Davis, Fox and Johnson, should avoid this scenario at all costs. According to those who seem to know, such a deal could cost us some 250 million pounds per week, and just as importantly, any transitional agreement could take longer to arrange than a conclusive final treaty. Other resources such as manpower, which we all know is in short supply, should be used more profitably to secure a final deal.

After all the political humbug of the past few days, it was really refreshing to see Mrs May so expertly put Mr Tyrie in his place!

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DAVID CAMERON

SELF-DELUSION OR JUST SELF-OPINIONATED ??

Despite having lost his job over his bad judgement in calling a referendum on Great Britain’s membership of the European Union,  apparently Mr Cameron continues to cling to the notion that he knows best, and that he lost both the referendum and his premiership to the ‘rise of populism’!  As he reportedly and somewhat grandly put it, ‘to the rise of a populist movement of unhappiness that also led to the election of Donald Trump and the downfall of the Italian premier, Matteo Renzi’.

In his recent speech to university students in the USA, in what some would regard as a wide-ranging egotistical rant, Mr Cameron stated that he ‘stands as a great optimist on how ‘we’ can combat populism’!  Do you mean democratic choice, Mr Cameron?

It seems he has only now become aware that the Euro could collapse as a result of the EU’s economic problems, and that some member countries have lost decades of economic growth! Furthermore, while a single currency, the Euro, was in place, there was no single fiscal system or single tax system.

You dont say Mr Cameron?  No doubt the undergraduates at DePauw University in Indiana will take all this hype in their stride, but we must ask where Mr Cameron has been all this time. 

Put simply, everything Mr Cameron now appears to belatedly acknowledge has been well known to most of us for a very long time. He is the man on whom many in this country relied to bring at least one or two concessions back from his negotiations in Brussels. The fact that he completely misread the mood of the British people, and that, for example, he was oblivious to the degree to which we Brits were greatly concerned about the lack of proper control over immigration, and the powers of the European Court of Justice over our British Courts in EU matters, was much resented.

What he gave us in Brussels instead, was a series of late night dramas and messing about with no finale. He failed to convince the other European leaders of the gravity of the British situation, and thus failed to divert them from their self-destruct mission. This is how many of us will remember him. The first step in the break-up of the EU may well be his legacy, because one cant readily think of a more signal achievement.

Let us also not forget that David Cameron is the man who unnecessarily agreed to the failed Scottish Independence Referendum, the consequences of which are still with us, and which could have lead to the break-up of the UK.

 

ITALY DOES A BREXIT ! 

This is the headline many Italians will be looking for after the Referendum tomorrow.

Officially, the Referendum has been called by PM Renzi to decide on whether the constitution should be changed to limit the powers of both the Italian Senate and Regions in the country’s bicameral parliamentary system. This was set up in 1948 by the allied powers and specifically engineered to prevent a return to Fascism. 

There is genuine opposition to Renzi’s plans based on the fear that it would lead to a centralising of power. However, the establishment are greatly apprehensive that the electorate will seize this opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the way business is conducted in the Eurozone.  Many are also unhappy that Renzi seems to have made the vote about himself. This miscalculation may therefore provide voters with the ideal opportunity to punish a serving prime minister.  Renzi has made a commitment to resign if he loses the vote. If he goes, a number of anti-establishment parties like the Five Star movement has promised to hold a referendum on retaining the Euro. This would send the rest of the Eurozone’s leaders into very dangerous territory.

Undoubtedly, the wave of popular unrest globally which swept Cameron out of power in the UK, and  lead to Trump’s victory in the USA, is about to engulf Europe. The EU is a war zone fighting off disintegration and economic collapse from within. The Right is on the march everywhere and both France and Germany face critical national elections next year where incumbent leaders face unprecedented challenges from powerful Eurosceptic movements. 

Furthermore, if the Austrians on Sunday choose as their president the gun-loving populist and Islam critic, parliamentary speaker Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party, this would further exacerbate the mood in Europe. While Hofer has not threatened to leave the EU, he is committed to a referendum if Brussels moves to further centralise EU powers.

For Italy itself a No vote on Sunday will not only lead to dangerous political instability, but to massive problems for the country’s banking sector for a start. Italian banks hold huge bad non-performing loans which are reported to total some Euros 360billions which are unlikely to ever be repaid. Obviously, this will have a huge effect on the Eurozone’s other banks. There are serious legal and financial constraints which would prevent a bank bailout by the Italian Government. These constraints are imposed by the Eurozone’s banking regulator. So the cherished Eurozone project of closer banking union may be doomed before it’s off the drawing board.

It seems that British PM May has everything to gain by playing a long cool Brexit game. The later she leaves invoking Article 50,  perhaps the more amenable the other EU leaders may be to her exit strategy, considering the other huge and potentially insurmountable problems they may have on their plate!