Article 50

Dear World,

I have recently taken the opportunity to read Theresa May’s letter on triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

I would like to take to this soapbox to comment that she has missed the obvious grounds on which to ignore the result of the June 23rd 2016 referendum, which is to point out that on due calm assessment leaving can have no realistically-obtainable overall positive benefit, as is acknowledged openly in her letter. The most beneficial outcome is a non-negative result. This should have been appreciated before the referendum, but as there was no specific “Leave” concept before the referendum the fact that it has only become apparent afterwards is not grounds to ignore it. As the facts become more readily appreciated, one should broaden one’s mind to take this into account.

Two years today, or in 730 days, we will lose direct and automatic access to the European single market – the only market with which we have a land border, which surrounds us on all sides, which is wholly more geographically adjacent to us than any other market (London to the eastern border of Latvia is 1,500 miles; London to Morocco is a little over that; Western Ireland to Newfoundland is just over 2,000) and with which we have and should reasonably continue to have most of our trade. In losing immediate access to this market, we lose the ability to influence its rules. We could, for example, have resolved the “Polish lorry driver” problem by promoting in Europe environmental rules insisting that trans-continental freight traffic should go by rail. There is enough of it and the Poland-UK corridor is long and narrow enough to fill direct freight trains. The EU, in directing the establishment of key transport corridors around the Union, has the high-level authority and funding clout to deliver this sort of scheme continent-wide. In the relatively short-term, this would reduce the need for lorry drivers across the continent, justify rail companies making the co-ordination and investment decisions to meet the logistical needs and improve the continent’s carbon footprint. (Nobody in a low-margin/ loss-making uncertain business like continental European railfreight spends a year lining up train path, wagons, crew and locomotives with the potential to discover that the Day 1 load consists of half a removal van and no authority is willing to provide hard cash until things get better.) As much of Europe has invested in common designs of UK-sized diesel locomotive (if not standard means of supplying electricity to trains for tractive power) this would not actually have been a difficult game to play if anyone had cared enough to use the EU positively in this regard. As an individual state, all we can demand is that Polish lorry drivers trans-ship their goods onto British trains or lorries at Calais. This will increase our costs at negligible benefit to both ourselves and the Union.

The worst-case outcome is a “crash-out” in two years’ time. This will cause a minor humanitarian crisis, as EU citizens risk the potential of being rounded up and deported (and, having finished panicking at the newspapers, deport themselves to save time); threaten the border between the two halves of Ireland, with the possibility of obliging the Government to make reunion arrangements; justify the Scottish National Party holding another referendum on the break-up of the United Kingdom; and, as the Prime Minister points out herself, increase the risk of security problems caused by disjointed policing and a lack of intelligence-sharing.

The withdrawal from the European Atomic Energy Community is a small side-touch that will deprive us of access to a community of technology in a small, complicated sector which brings much high-value development potential to key parts of the UK. On the positive side, it may leave us unable to build any more nuclear power stations.

As a heavyweight power in the EU, providing the largest military heft, offering world-beating security and technological skills and a positive budgetary input, we have a relatively substantial ability to dictate policy – as the EU keeps kindly pointing out by remarking on the enthusiasm shown by our Governments down the years for free trade, to the point where we vetoed punitive taxes on Chinese steel inputs and in the process put our own steelworks out of business. The policies dictated to the EU may not be the policies that we want to dictate as a people, but if our Government is not dictating policy that is in our interests as a nation (or failing to explain why it is in our interests) then that is a problem with the Government which is about to be placed in sole charge of our national development. In a way, the EU offers an opportunity to ensure that our priorities as a friendly ex-Imperial nation can be broadcast internationally. It is not unpatriotic to want to maintain our extensive soft power on the Continent, building alliances and exchanging favours in the clean-air back rooms. If our Governments ran the relationship less as an “us and them” affair, as both John Major and Tony Blair briefly tried to (aiming to convince the population rather than kow-tow to the never-possessed with pseudo token “victories”), it can work very much in our favour. Outside the EU, we will have something less than the international status of Japan, which designs very nice short-life technology, has a terrifying work ethic, is in a constant state of deflation and is usually ignored.

Ultimately the “non-negative” outcome aims to maintain economic and security co-operation, allow maximum certainty for businesses which have to plan ahead, create a Free Trade Agreement covering shared economic sectors and maintain our matched regulatory frameworks and standards. It will presumably therefore seek to maintain these matched regulatory frameworks and standards in the future in order to maintain this Free Trade Agreement, which means that when we change our standards we will have to persuade Europe to do likewise and when Europe changes its standards we will be following suit. Where civil servants currently misinterpret and gold-plate European legislation to ensure compliance with our Treaty obligations, they will instead misinterpret and gold-plate European standards to ensure we remain within the terms of our Free Trade Agreement. On the negative outcome, we will have to follow rules created without our input despite us currently being the second largest nation economically within the EU. On the positive outcome, our opinions will be attended to as befits a country with a population of more than half of the residual states put together. This positive outcome is what we have already. We are about to spend millions, if not billions, on ensuring that we maintain our current mildly dysfunctional but usually beneficial relationship with an organisation that we are purporting to be leaving.

This is the most gratuitous waste of money engaged upon since the construction of the Findhorn Railway, which had the small decency to be carried out at private expense. I wholly resent that my tax money, paid to the Government in the belief that it would go on hospitals, schools, transport development, arts, libraries and culture, strategic support and relief for the Third World, national defence, emptying the municipal bins, supporting the poor and ensuring that traditionally less-prosperous countries in Europe have the skills and infrastructure to trade with us effectively will instead be burned on a renegotiation which will get us nowhere.

This is not a time to come together and support the Government. This is a time to come together and ask, when the NHS is struggling, when our schools are stretched, when the verges outside my house are filling with untidied litter, when libraries are closing and the Public Accounts Committee reckons clean electric trains are now beyond the nation’s budget, why it is that we can afford to pursue the vanity project of a consummate delusional idiot who is so pleased with what he’s achieved that he spends all his time on US television?

How To… Get Sacked from the Government

Apparently if ministers leak Government plans for Brexit then they’ll be sacked.

This is a good idea.

It suggests to the population that the Government has a plan available to leak, and will therefore calm fears that there is no plan.

The document setting this out also helpfully provided the Lord High Leaker with something to leak to round off the week.

Meanwhile here is a picture of a beach at sunset to make it look like this post has content.

Algajola 1 JPG.jpg(It’s on the north coast of Corsica at Algajola in case anyone cares.)

Today’s Excitement

This feels like an awful long time ago…

Don’t bash the Americans though. Most of them didn’t vote for Trump. Owing to a certain curiosity of the electoral college (which is one of the stupidly complex methods of electing a single person known to humanity), Clinton won the popular vote.

At least first-past-the-post almost invariably gives supreme British executive power to the people who won. If anyone in the States wants to consider electoral reform one day…

(It is nonetheless tempting to suggest that Clinton not saying something publicly after conceding this morning is an indication of reasons for not getting the required breadth of support to win. And it says something about the US that all it can put up for presidency is two people that everyone wanted to vote against.)

___..___

The incident on the Croydon Tramlink this morning comes as something of a shock. For a little tram, five people is a distractingly large number of fatalities. And looking at the tram lying on its side on a shattered bend, it is hard to picture any conclusion that doesn’t say nasty things about light rail safety. (Accidents are rare. The problem for the statistics is that they should be, because trams are hardly commonplace.)

A valuable reminder – as though we ever need any – for maintaining safety on heavy rail. Touching wood as we tick towards ten years since Greyrigg…

Light Blue Touchpaper

Ok.

I don’t usually use this blog to refer to other people’s stuff.

Still, some while ago I fell across this old online cartoon series called I Drew This, by a young liberal personage who scribbled away through the mid-Bush years. The cartoons (and, therefore, presumably, the cartoonist) took a general view that most Bush positions were illogical, and since most of them were illogical one overlooks occasional moments where the liberal position seems vaguely uncertain between cartoons several months apart.

However, even immediate current affairs stuff remains relevant occasionally and I would like to refer to the cartoon of Wednesday 22nd March 2006 to summarise an argument on one side of Brexit: http://www.glasswings.com/comics/idrewthis/d/20060322.html

We are currently somewhere between panels 4 and 5, but missing from the cartoon is the seventh panel where the eagle’s plumage grows back (and who knows, it may look better afterwards).

When I get round to it I will write an argument (of my own) for another side of Brexit specifically inspired by a Toynbee article (oh dear), but generally reflecting a view which I feel should be taken more widely.

Thanks.

(The cartoonist, for anyone who is interested, now writes the rather cute and optimistic series Phoebe and Her Unicorn, which is currently freely available on the GoComics website a few doors down from Peanuts and Pearls Before Swine.)

Recap

Some people may be feeling left behind at UK news lately, so here is a summary.

Thursday 23rd June 2016

  • Referendum is held on membership of European Union. Exit polls suggest a narrow Remain win.

Friday 24th

  • UK wakes up to news that vote went to leave the EU by 17million votes to 15million;
  • Pound collapses;
  • Stock market plunges;
  • Nigel Farage goes on ITV to deny that £350million promised by Leave battlebus for National Health Service will go anywhere near the National Health Service;
  • Other notable Leave campaigners suggest continued single market presence and no cut in immigration;
  • EU top brass ask for things to be tidied quickly;
  • Leading Conservative Party “Leave” campaigners (Boris Johnson, ex Mayor of London, and Michael Gove, Justice Secretary) call on Prime Minister to stay on;
  • David Cameron resigns as Leader of Conservative Party and announces intention to resign as Prime Minister when new leader is elected in October;
  • Cameron kindly leaves triggering departure from the EU to his successor;
  • Boris and Gove hold press conference where they stand around looking like they don’t really know what to do, weren’t expecting the result and have been steamrollered out of existence;
  • Both suggest a period of calm and that there is no need to rush the result they had been anxiously fighting for;
  • Scottish top brass say angry things;
  • Boris is abused for his support for Leave.

Saturday 25th

  • Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, suggests that EU exit talks will be nice and friendly;
  • Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, denies he is going to quit too as various people blame him for not delivering a Labour block vote for Remain.

Sunday 26th

  • Jeremy Corbyn fires his Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn;
  • Reports that half Corbyn’s top team will now resign feel overblown;
  • Petition for a second EU referendum set up by a Leave supporter expecting to lose is overladen with support, some of it created by computer programmes written by people who fancied making computers repeatedly sign petitions;
  • England win at rugby against Australia;
  • 12 of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet members quit in protest at his continued leadership, including most of the people who voters might have heard of for moderately good reasons (and the woman who said that Ed Miliband carving his vacuous election pledges in a bit of stone last year didn’t mean he wasn’t going to break them).

Monday 27th

  • Most of the rest of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet quits, leaving some of his mates, an ex-girlfriend, two people who can’t resign but promised to stop attending and a former party leadership contender whose attitudes bear a certain resemblance to a drowned sponge;
  • Angela Eagle, one of those resigning, breaks down in tears on television;
  • Corbyn recruits most of his remaining supporters/ people who would rather not have a Labour leadership contest to his Shadow Cabinet, filling roughly half the vacancies;
  • Names include such widely-known figures as Pat Glass MP;
  • Nick Clegg, once Liberal-Democratic Party leader and former Deputy Prime Minister, suggests an early election but is told by David Cameron that someone called Nick Clegg got a law passed about fixed-term Parliaments so he can’t go back to the country;
  • Anti-foreign sentiment in UK post-referendum prompts concern;
  • Corbyn heckled and told he faces a leadership contest at Labour party meeting;
  • He goes to a rally of his supporters afterwards;
  • Tory party reckons it should manage its leadership contest by 2nd September;
  • England knocked out of Euro 2016 football tournament (by… err… Iceland);
  • Panda gives birth to twins in China.

Tuesday 28th

  • Nigel Farage, man who has done very little worth commenting on except complaining about the European Union and getting stuck in M4 traffic jams, accuses European Parliament members of having never had proper jobs;
  • Pound continues to fall;
  • Pat Glass MP decides she can’t face being MP for another term and tells her local party she will stand down at the next election;
  • Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, observes that people leaving the EU are, for obvious reasons, going to be outside the EU;
  • Corbyn massively loses an unofficial vote of confidence in his leadership by 172 votes to 40;
  • General feeling that nobody else from Corbyn’s cabinet will resign now.

Wednesday 29th

  • Pat Glass MP resigns from Shadow Cabinet;
  • Tory Party launches leadership contest. Anyone can stand if they can get two people to nominate them in 24 hours. Immediate appearance by Stephen Crabbe, Work and Pensions Secretary;
  • Corbyn mocked at Prime Minister’s Questions and told to resign by Cameron;
  • Gibralter begins looking at options for not totally uncoupling from the EU;
  • It is announced that Angela Eagle will spend Thursday challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership.

Thursday 30th

  • Theresa May, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom quietly launch Tory leadership campaigns;
  • Michael Gove announces that despite years of not wanting to be Prime Minister and being totally unsuited to the role he regrettably considers it his duty to stand because Boris is incapable;
  • Boris spends a press conference thought to be intended to launch his leadership bid, sets out his aims for the country and then closes by saying he won’t stand, leaving a distinct impression that he has given up on the premiership and his remaining political ambition is the Chiltern Hundreds;
  • Gove has to spend the first bits of his leadership campaign explaining why he knifed Johnson in several places;
  • The Eagle does not launch.

Friday 1st July

  • Some debate over how to handle EU negotiations;
  • Labour top brass reject calls for their party to back a second referendum or ignore the result of the first if they win any early election;
  • George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, gives up on his delayed budget surplus targets;
  • Wales goes through to the semi-finals of the Euro 2016 football tournament.

Saturday 2nd

  • Shadow Cabinet look at ways to lever Corbyn out;
  • Neil Kinnock tells Corbyn to go;
  • Protest in London against democracy (specifically the referendum result).

Sunday 3rd

  • Andrea Leadsom says we should get on with leaving the EU;
  • Theresa May says there is no rush and people want a good prime minister for PM, not specifically a Brexiteer.

Monday 4th

  • Nigel Farage resigns from UK Independence Party leadership – to jubilation from his Parliamentary party, who had a UKIP MPs meeting on Brexit arrangements and agreed unanimously with himself;
  • Chris Evans resigns from his short-lived job hosting BBC2 show Top Gear – to jubilation from his predecessors, who were out in the sticks somewhere filming their new show for Amazon;
  • Jeremy Corbyn does not resign – to the continued jubilation of his supporters;
  • Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says Theresa May is quite right not to guarantee EU citizen residency rights in UK (useful bargaining chip for British citizen residency rights in the EU and a general sign that the UK is reverting to the good old foreign policy approach that saw it sink the French fleet in 1940).

Tuesday 5th

  • Teachers go on strike;
  • Tory MPs vote on their leadership candidate preferences;
  • Ken Clarke, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is filmed making caustic remarks about “anyone but Gove” and how Theresa May is a “bloody difficult woman, but then you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher”;
  • His interlocutor Malcolm Rifkind remarks that he and Ken would happily have had that conversation on the record if Sky had asked them to;
  • Liam Fox knocked out of contest;
  • Stephen Crabbe withdraws;
  • Theresa May leads by some margin;
  • Next round on Thursday;
  • Twentieth anniversary of Dolly the Sheep, the first clone of an adult mammal.

Wednesday 6th

  • Chilcot report into Iraq War published. Broadly speaking, Blair got carried away and deluded himself but with no dishonest intent;
  • Tony defends himself;
  • Wales knocked out of Euro 2016 tournament.

Thursday 7th

  • Tony defends himself some more;
  • Questions continue as to how much we want to leave the EU;
  • Tony says world is a better place without Saddam;
  • Gove supporters try to drum up support by suggesting that Andrea Leadsom, who hardly anyone had heard of a month or so previously, is not suitable leadership material;
  • It is generally agreed that Tony Blair is probably not going to prison over Iraq;
  • Ian Hislop spends a Question Time appearance arguing that just because Remain lost the referendum doesn’t mean it should be ignored forever more;
  • Michael Gove, to the surprise of very few people, is knocked out of the Tory leadership contest;
  • Tory party seems to generally incline towards his previous view that he is unsuited to be Prime Minister, and does not want him to put himself out unnecessarily;
  • In the process of leaving he guarantees that the new Prime Minister will be a woman, for only the second time in the exceptionally long history of the Tory Party.

Friday 8th

  • The actor who played Sulu in 1960s Star Trek is upset that Sulu has been outed as gay in the latest film (ironic, as Takei is also gay);
  • Andrea Leadsom gives the Times an interview in which she says she won’t make the leadership contest about how she’s a mother and May isn’t because that would be “horrible” before going on to explain how as a mother she is making an investment in the future for her children.

Saturday 9th

  • Andrea Leadsom sees the morning’s Times and takes issue with the headline saying that she thinks that as a mother she is making an investment in the future for her children;
  • Italian foreign minister suggests UK might not leave the EU;
  • Labour begins looking at nuclear deterrent options for its defence review;
  • Tories announce plan to break up already wrecked Labour Party by having a vote on Trident renewal (which the Tories are largely in favour of, but Labour’s leader isn’t);
  • The Eagle to fly on Monday;
  • Still no candidate for UKIP leadership contest.

Sunday 10th

  • Conservative Party wins general election (foreign news from Australia);
  • Ongoing controversy over whether being a mother is a qualification for the role of Prime Minister, battering Leadsom in the process;
  • John Prescott, once Tony Blair’s Deputy Prime Minister, announces the Iraq War to be illegal (some 13¼ years after he could have stopped it by resigning);
  • Corbyn tries to calm critics by saying he voted to Remain;
  • Chris Evans backs American co-host Matt LeBlanc to anchor next series of Top Gear;
  • Andy Murray wins Wimbledon.

Monday 11th

  • Theresa May goes to Birmingham to make a speech about why she should be Tory leader;
  • Angela Eagle gets all the nation’s political press into a room to announce her Labour leadership bid;
  • This means the Press all discover simultaneously that they want to be over at Andrea Leadsom’s house, where she is coming onto her doorstep to announce the end of her leadership bid;
  • Eagle finishes her speech, turns to questions and finds the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky political editors have all run away;
  • Leadsom says she can’t be leader without more support from the Parliamentary party [and a vastly thicker skin] and wishes May success as sole remaining Tory leadership candidate;
  • May has achieved this mostly by making a joke about Boris buying water cannon and not self-immolating;
  • Southern Railway cancels 341 trains from its timetable so that customers have some idea of what’s not going to run while it finishes managing the Government’s dispute with a trade union;
  • Tory Party backbencher leader Graham Brady, technically the Chair of the 1922 Committee, announces that there need to be some internal discussions as to how to manage a leadership contest with one candidate;
  • Discussions conclude Theresa May is the winner;
  • Labour put out two press releases almost simultaneously, one demanding an immediate General Election and the other announcing a leadership election between two candidates of such polar opposites that they would be unable to agree a manifesto;
  • Cameron comes out of No. 10 Downing Street to announce he will be resigning as Prime Minister after Prime Minister’s Questions on the 13th and expects to be replaced by Theresa May, after which he goes back inside humming the opening chords of “Braid the Raven Hair” from The Mikado.

Tuesday 12th

  • David Cameron hosts his final Cabinet meeting;
  • Angela Eagle’s office is vandalised;
  • Jeremy Corbyn appeals for calm and for him to be on the Labour leadership ballot paper without needing to seek nominations;
  • Neil Kinnock repeats previous observations that when Corbyn’s mate Tony Benn stood against him for the leadership in the 1980s Kinnock had to scuttle round for nominations;
  • Petition on second EU referendum to be debated on 5th September in Parliament;
  • Bernie Sanders backs Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America after a contest that began a year or so ago;
  • Jeremy Corbyn is announced to be on the ballot for the Labour leadership without needing nominations.

Wednesday 13th

  • Sun headline is about the BBC “faking” a “live” TV programme about trains by featuring a bit of film submitted by a viewer that was taking in February, thereby getting a picture of a Class 66 on the front of a national paper;
  • The Japanese Emperor announces he intends to abdicate;
  • The Prime Minister David Cameron lays into Labour for not being able to decide the rules of their leadership contest in the time it’s taken the Tories to have a leadership contest, praises Theresa May, claims he doesn’t hate the Downing Street cat, makes a speech thanking everyone in front of TV cameras, aides, his children and SamCam, goes to Buckingham Palace and quits;
  • Theresa May goes to Buckingham Palace and accepts an invitation to form a Government;
  • The Prime Minister Theresa May makes shorter speech than Cameron’s outside No.10 which doesn’t so much park tanks on Labour’s lawn as blow up their house, ransack the garden and build a new garden wall that confines the Opposition to the compost heap;
  • Speech is noted as being rather like the one Ed Miliband would probably have made if he won last year’s election;
  • Labour is too busy discussing if Pontypridd MP Owen Smith should be on the leadership election ballot paper to notice;
  • The Mays refuse demands from the Press to kiss on live international television;
  • George Osborne is encouraged to resign before he can outstay his welcome;
  • New Government appointed with Philip Hammond as Chancellor (he was Osborne’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury until May 2010, when David Lawes got the full job and Hammond was banished to Transport), Boris as Foreign Secretary (he could have been Prime Minister in three years’ time if he’d backed Remain), Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and David Davis (not the MP for Monmouth) as Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union.

Note for Posterity

The above all actually happened and occurred in the timeframe specified.

Remaining points

One question remains. David Cameron had a house of his own in London which was tenanted. The tenants have apparently been given notice.

We have not heard enough about these tenants.

Did they know who their landlord was? If they did, they have presumably been packing since Friday 24th.

If not, one can picture them cheering his resignation when the phone rings.

“Sorry,” says the estate agent, “I’m afraid you’ve been given notice. Landlord needs his house back.”

“Why?!”

“He’s got to leave his place in a hurry after he quit his job.”

“What job was that?”

“Prime Minister.”

 

And finally…

Here is a mid-winter picture of a bridge in Maidenhead, our new Prime Minister’s constituency:Maidenhead Bridge 1 JPG.jpg

Maidenhead is one of the richest constituencies in the country. Jerome described the town as “too snobby to be pleasant” but added that the stretch of the Thames up to Cookham is “unbroken loveliness … perhaps, the sweetest stretch of all the river”.Thames near Maidenhead 1 JPG.jpg

Of course our previous Prime Minister was based in Witney, incorporating Charlbury and Hanborough, on the North-western side of Oxford.Combe 2 JPG.jpg

That’s what my heart tells me to say…

Returning perhaps too rapidly from Kyleakin to Westminster, let us pause on the Tory leadership contest. While reading this Guardian article, here is some light background music…

Completely unconnected of course. The connected piece of music is this:

I would say something specific about party leaderships, but it would be obsolete before I finished it so it hardly seems worth bothering.

(With due credit to Messrs Gilbert & Sullivan.)

EU Membership (lack thereof)

Honestly.

https://next.ft.com/content/2538e348-386a-11e6-a780-b48ed7b6126f?ftcamp=published_links%2Frss%2Fworld_uk_politics%2Ffeed%2F%2Fproduct

If it actually mattered, the least someone could have done is assembled a positive campaign as to why and settled some of the British complaints.

EU officials and leaders seem to be wandering around with their heads in their hands, wishing that they had been given the opportunity to keep the UK on side. It’s not like less than six months ago they sent Cameron away from the negotiating table with some sundry scribbles on a post-it. Really they have very little to complain about except possibly their own stupidity.

In the event the most positive we got in a four-month campaign was a pack of lies from Leave, which they acknowledged within hours of winning the vote had been known to be a pack of lies all along. (But very positive and inspiring lies all the same.)

Both country and Union will have to muddle through. The destruction of UK soft power on the continent is unfortunate. The wrecking ball through EU status (losing the second largest economy, largest military spender, provider of warships to patrol Schengen borders, owner of four submarines of nuclear warheads and holder of a seat on the UN Security Council) is perhaps more unfortunate.

Boris and Gove, now they have their result, seem curiously disinterested in actually doing anything with it. One can understand Cameron’s hesitancy to invoke Article 50 (but he should have done so anyway). Why Boris now doesn’t want out is less clear. The longer he clings on, the more pressure there will be from backsliders for another referendum. If he loses that, it will destroy his prestige and Britain’s negotiating power. (Said power was never very much because the EU never believed the UK would actually walk. See above. Oops.)

Some questions have been raised as to whether if in the November election (one looks likely) Labour could win by offering to nul and void the referendum. Personally it would settle my resolve not to vote for them. It would stink. The referendum has been had. The Labour Europhiles have marginally lost. Maybe if Leave weren’t a bunch of liars they wouldn’t have done. The enhanced deal is dead anyway, so in that regard there’s not a lot of point. Move onto the next battle.

Both campaigns were based on fear, which presumably resulted in more people than just me eventually falling back on original prejudice. This was a pity. The European Union is a good project. There is nothing inherently harmful in the scheme. The problem is the steamroller attitude. Things like the Constitution which reappeared as the Lisbon Treaty so suddenly didn’t need any referendums. There’s the attitude of lending money to uneconomic countries in the Union for massive infrastructure projects which they may or may not have needed but certainly couldn’t pay for. It would be like London paying to upgrade the A1 around Newcastle and then expecting Newcastle to pay the money back out of council tax. It should have been done on grants. It is broadly accepted in the UK that the South-West, much of Wales, the remainder of Ireland and the Highlands have to be subsidised. The result would have been much better than imposing technocrats on countries that had spent years acting like they’d been given free money and much more honest for North-Western Europeans, who knew perfectly well that cash is never going to come back.

When dealing with countries with a tradition of democracy, an open approach as to what you want to do is acceptable. It is surprising that a body born out of North-Western Europe should have failed to grasp that voters can be trusted. It’s the vacuum of information that gets filled with nonsense about the Turks entering the EU that’s damaging, or that £350m per week somehow gets absorbed entirely by a few pen-pushers, and arguably more damaging than making Greece a holiday destination with decent infrastructure. (Instead the EU has left Southern Greece with no railways except the Olympia branch. Much success there.)

Thus blame for Brexit rests on various shoulders – Cameron for not seeing the danger early enough, Nick Clegg for not winning enough seats to force the coalition that would have killed this referendum, Jeremy Corbyn for being too irrelevant for words and the Marketing Department of the European Union for being implausibly terrible at their job.

We will now get a new Tory leader (and Prime Minister) a trifle earlier than booked (as no Tory leadership frontrunner has won since Anthony Eden I would not bet on Boris). After that the Tories will likely go to Parliament for an early election. Labour therefore has until Monday to decide if Corbyn will lead them through such an election. The Tories have got a month less than Labour had last year and will predicate the election on their timescales not Labour’s. Alternatively Corbyn can attempt to use Parliament’s power over elections to veto one in November, which will give the next Tory leader immediate and total legitimacy (given that Corbyn will have essentially voted for them) until 2020.

This post should be read in a regretful tone. There is no point in anger. There is no point in being angry at a dead ideal. Hopping around shouting at old people for being hideous racists merely breeds the sort of resentment (on both sides) that Leave people were busy stoking. In any event it is quite possibly untrue. Some old people voted to Remain (or not at all) and some of them already wanted to leave the EU for perfectly sensible reasons. Cameron’s domestic political career is dead after a similar length of premiership to Major. The United Kingdom is now out of the European Union (to all intents and purposes, if not yet practically) and we are off into waters which are not exactly uncharted. People like to say they’re uncharted. They don’t want you comparing this to the last two times we came out of European supernational bodies:

  1. 410, end of the Roman Empire’s presence in Britain. It appears that this was followed by a recession and the collapse of urban living. Unfortunately all that survives in the way of written records for the next 150-odd years is a book by a monk called Gildas who should have watched his blood pressure and didn’t know when he was writing relative to the end of the Empire. Passing comment is therefore rather tricky.
  2. 1534, when Henry VIII formally dissolved our link with the Catholic Church in Rome and declared himself head of the Catholic Church in London. This took some straightening out over the ensuing years. The precise implications of this division are still being worked on, though peace is expected at some point.

So nothing to worry about.

Here is a picture of Bastad in Sweden, seen from a Oresundtog (Oresund-crossing train) climbing out of Bastad on its way from Gothenburg to Copenhagen. This is now an ex-view. Not because UK nationals are banned from visiting Sweden, but because since my passing through the area last year the Swedish have diverted the railway into the twin-bore Hallandsas Tunnel past Bastad. Fast trains can now work along this (previously rather rural single-line) section of the Malmo – Gothenburg mainline a trifle more quickly.

Bastad 1 JPG.jpg