The Northern Irish border, and how checks on products travelling between the UK and EU take place, was one of the most controversial issues during the Brexit negotiations.
We all know the history of Northern Ireland but on his last visit there Boris Johnson clearly said there would be no checks on goods imported into the province from the UK. General Election 2019: Johnson insists no NI-GB goods checks after Brexit – BBC News Could this political lie cause the peace process to unravel in Norther Ireland?
Scotland did not vote for Brexit, certainly not in the case of self -employed skipper Phil from Lochaber who works his eight-metre boat, Jaqueline, usually single-handedly. He works an eight-hour day usually six days a week, landing an average of 20 tons of mixed shellfish per year from around 300 creels.
The old church fathers worried about transubstantiation, the trinity in one, the virgin birth and how many angels might dance on a pin. Easy-peasy compared to what the high priests of Brexit now get their faithful to swallow.
“Europe’s role in this weird psychodrama [England’s obsession with World War 2/Dunkirk Spirit, post-imperial failure and all that that entails] is entirely pre-scripted. It does not matter what the European Union is or what it is doing…”
Nissan announced today that 160 jobs are now at risk. They confirmed that they are starting a consultation process with office-based staff. Although they say it will not affect production, this news is in stark contrast to their positive statements of last Friday which led Boris Johnson to boast of the “fantastic news for the brilliant Nissan workforce”. Not so amazing for the office staff though as it turns out.
We all know that Scotland voted to remain in the EU and that the Scottish National Party (SNP) is determined to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence as soon as possible. But what of Northern Ireland which also voted to remain, could they also leave, and the UK really shrink in size?
What does the British brand now deliver? We took back our blue (black?) passports from the EU, only to have them made by a French company in Poland, their import delayed by Dover border chaos, and far-right thug Steven Yaxley-Lennon, a.k.a. Tommy Robinson laughing that he has an Irish passport affording him freedom of movement – um, because the Brexit he sought has devalued the beloved British passport, robbing us of freedom of movement.
The response to Starmer’s recent statements indicate that there has been some kind of trade-off, whereby the price of unity is the absence of discussion, and an acquiescence over Starmer’s apparent preference for pragmatism. In reality that is a dangerous strategy.
The divided communities followed different paths after the Good Friday Agreement. The IRA opted for politics and disarmed, bar a rump of dissidents in remoter areas. Their communities always valued education and new opportunities were readily seized on. Loyalists were less fortunate as competition for ‘their’ state jobs increased and the automatic right to follow fathers into the shipyards vanished.
The reality remains, however, that although Nissan has the zero tariffs they wanted, there still remains other barriers to trade – namely custom checks which will raise costs, cause delays and ultimately make them less competitive. Every time the plant has to bid to make a new model there, this is when we will see the truth of how good the Brexit deal really is. Let us not forget the Sunderland Nissan plant did not win the bid to make their new electric car, the Ariya, there due to concerns about Brexit.
When Stanley Johnson, Boris’ father, stood in front of the cameras to explain why he had applied for French passport, he said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly, I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather”.
I’m guessing Amazon will be thinking hard about starting up an Irish website and sourcing products from places other than the UK. We heard rumours in late December that they have been searching for warehouse space in Dublin. In the meantime, we’ve been advised that the best thing to do is to open an account with Amazon.de, which has an English language option. There is of course no reason why a product made in China for a Dutch company should have to go anywhere near the UK, but like so many companies that have hitherto treated the UK and Ireland as a single entity for trade purposes, Amazon seems not to have thought this through – yet.
The existing Pro-European campaigning organisations are the available components of what should be a national, bipartisan civil society movement for UK re-entry to the EU. A collegiate and diverse movement with vigour and public presence may be more effective than a monolithic entity with homogenised messages and narrative.
The Union would not, in my view, insist in its criteria for UK re-entry on setting the bar of virtue impossibly high. It would make a pragmatic judgement weighing the benefits and risks of UK membership in a range of domains from military and scientific capacity to cultural creativity, governance and accountability.
In today’s state of the nation report, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns that ministers must make tackling poverty an economic priority in 2021 or they risk being defined by a record of worsening hardship.
“Their biggest concern is that we end up in some kind of position where we’re not aligned to the European Medical Agency, we’re not aligned to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US, in which case, there are significant barriers to selling their products in (both) those markets. And that that’s a scenario which is absolutely awful for business.”
The fact that countries tend to trade most with those geographically closest to them suggests to me that despite the UK’s new-found freedoms, in reality we will remain closely aligned to EU rules.
We are not in a culture war. What we are in is an unsought political struggle with a power-nexus which uses culture-war behaviours and tropes as weapons – and in that process weaponises people.
Finally on a beautifully hot July afternoon I finished the novel. The next few hours I wandered around Kreuzberg, hearing the explosive cheers, then jeers and woe, from the locals packing out the bars as their team crashed out of the World Cup, while my initial elation slumped into a fatigue that saw me beered up, sprawled on a sofa in an all-night bar near Tempelhof, muttering ‘I just finished a novel. A f****** novel.
The electorate owns its own Brexit. And the nationalism on which it depends is alive and well, and so wholly irrational that Labour cannot embrace it. And while it remains in the ascendancy, no progressive agenda can succeed.
Emerging as a sound system concern and then band, Asian Dub Foundation have fused a wide variety of music styles (including, dub reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, punk, ragga, electronic and traditional South Asian genres), in a highly original, dynamic and incendiary manner, that has won them plaudits for over two decades. Seen as one of the most exciting of all live acts during this time, ADF, though not one dimensional or simply a ‘political band’, were never ones to shirk from tackling contemporary issues head on (capitalism, exploitation, racism, domestic violence, climate change…). One of their members even refused to accept an MBE some years back.
While we are pleased we are not leaving the EU without a deal, the one that has been struck is not a good one. For example, businesses will still be hit hard with costs and delays from customs checks. We were told that leaving the EU would cut red tape, however, this appears not to be the case. We will continue to exist as an organisation to hold the government to account for their promises over Brexit. The EU gave the North East twice as much money per head than the rest of the country – we cannot believe this will be replicated by the government despite Johnson’s claims of levelling up the North East.
The 2016 referendum on our EU membership was intended as an exercise in democracy, but it failed in many respects. The reality of our EU membership was compared with a nebulous Brexit project: many UK voters thought they were voting to retain a close relationship with the EU as Norway has. After a 51.9% majority in the referendum vote, an ideological minority has taken control of the Conservative Party and is imposing a hard Brexit.
The North East is a melting pot and no amount of British nationalism can erase that. The Big Ben Bongs at 11 pm on December 31 to herald Britain’s freedom from the EU signify nothing other than blatant English nationalism. This will be a date in which I lose part of me, detached without will; it’s not a new year heralding something new, it’s a death. The death of the future I had planned for myself, right up to retirement. It’s out of my control, a sort of prison without visible bars.
Yet let me spare a thought for the UK government’s ‘choice’ to cease to participate in the Erasmus programme. This is a gratuitous, nasty, vindictive intergenerational middle finger to the British young, whom overwhelmingly voted Remain in 2016. Of all issues, Erasmus was by far the easiest to resolve.
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse
That wasn’t the case
Father Boris was waiting
A mask on his face.
Today there may be a possible breakthrough in the trade talks between the UK and the EU. Downing Street appears to have reduced its demands for a 60% reduction in catch by value to a much smaller amount of 35%. The European Union has already said that it will accept up to a 25% reduction […]
Now it would be unwarranted to deduce from the opinion of a single bigot, the mindset of English Brexiters as a whole, but we have all seen comments like this before; in recent years applied in equal measure to the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, while the Libertarian ideology of Cummings and his associates does not exclude Scotland per se, parts of England’s electorate do.
We have seen images and videos of trucks at a standstill, unable to cross the border. BBC News 21/12/2020 reported: ‘The government and trade groups have warned of “serious disruption” after France blocked arrivals of UK passengers for 48 hours over concerns about the new coronavirus variant. Freight lorries cannot cross by sea or through […]
Why would they come? Even if they could cope with the added discomfort of waiting for days either side of the Channel, by dint of turning Kent into a massive Portaloo park, it doesn’t work. With the opportunity cost of missed work elsewhere thanks to delays, that hauliers are paid by the kilometre, and inertia earns nought, and the risk of penalties for later deliveries and spoiled goods … they won’t come.