British ‘democracy’ in action

What will Brexit mean, both short and long-term?  Could it lead to more countries’ rank and file voters deciding to take back control from the elitists who denigrate the hoi polloi?  Or will the elitist establishment continue trampling on democracy?

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Forget ‘Project Fear’, This Is What A “Hard Brexit” Could Mean For The UK

Forget Project Fear, This Is What A Hard Brexit Could Mean For The UK  By Patrick Barron, via The Mises Institute, Zerohedge, 22 March 2019

When Britons voted on June 23, 2016 on whether or not to leave the EU there was no discussion of a “hard or soft Brexit”. These terms were invented after Brexit passed by a surprisingly large margin and the mostly anti-Brexit Tory Party government, especially its leadership, decided that it needed to negotiate the terms of leaving. Brexit supporters regard such terms as betraying the 2016 Brexit referendum itself. These 17.4 million Britons undoubtedly believed that Brexit would mean exactly that: Britain would no longer be governed by any EU laws, regulations, etc. Nevertheless, all that the world has heard since that day in June 2016 is a debate over the terms of leaving, with any so-called terms being labeled as a “soft Brexit” and leaving without any agreement as a “hard Brexit”.

In a “hard Brexit,” Britain just leaves and all EU regulations, etc. are null and void. It’s pretty clear cut. A “soft Brexit” can mean almost anything that is not a “hard Brexit”; i.e., Britain would agree to continue some or all of the manufacturing regulations, tariffs, and intergovernmental agreements — such as ceding jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice — that apply to EU countries. The list is almost endless and the time frame very nebulous, a perfect playground for those who wish to have a Brexit In Name Only. If there is to be Brexit of any sort, however, Parliament must act. Experts in British constitutional law claim that only Parliament can actually take Britain out of the EU and only Parliament can decide under what terms, if any, it will do so. Of course, one of the terms of separation could be that there are no terms of separation — thus, a “hard Brexit.”

The Effect on Imports

The current government has been exploring the possibility of dropping all import tariffs to zero except on “sensitive industries”. This would be very good for consumers, because the EU imposes tariffs on almost all imports from nations not in the EU itself. Most notably in its attempt to insulate inefficient European farms from worldwide competition, the EU imposes onerous tariffs on non-EU agricultural products via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Eliminating these and many other tariffs would significantly lower the cost of living for the British people. The success of Brexit may depend entirely on whether Britain does in fact eliminate tariffs on most goods. It is a golden opportunity. The EU itself is very export oriented, so it is unlikely that it would impose any restrictions on member countries selling goods to Britain. So far so good!

The Effect on British Exports

Exports are another matter entirely. No longer in the tariff free customs union, it is assumed that the EU would impose tariffs on British products as it does on any other non-EU country, raising their cost to EU buyers, which one must assume would result in fewer British sales. The real harm would not fall on British exporters but on Britain’s EU customers, who now are forcibly prohibited from buying British goods at the previously advantageous price. On the other hand since it no longer must meet onerous EU manufacturing regulations, British industry might enjoy lower manufacturing costs which would enable it to sell more to non-EU countries. Although it might take time for Britain to develop new markets for its goods, some countries, led by the U.S. itself, have stated that they are ready to sign free trade agreements with Britain as soon as it leaves the EU.

The Effect on the City of London

The City of London is a massive global hub. Its banking and insurance companies are dominant in the EU and likely to remain so for reasons of depth of market knowledge and a high reputation for honesty and fair dealing. Although some companies have moved some operations to Frankfurt, it is unclear if these moves are significant in number and may be simply part of normal market flux. The same fears about the fate of the City were raised when Britain secured an opt-out from the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which formally created the euro. Unless the EU imposes some special tax or regulation prohibiting EU members from utilizing London firms, it is unlikely that the City will be much affected by a “hard Brexit”.

The Effect on Controlling borders

Uncontrolled illegal Immigration into the EU became a key issue for passing the Brexit referendum. There had been much concern for decades over loss of British sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and the economic cost of belonging to a closed customs union with high tariffs and onerous regulations, but the movement to leave came to a head over border controls or lack thereof. One of the four pillars of the EU is freedom of movement of people within the EU. (The other three were freedom of movement for goods, services, and capital.) Illegal immigration came to a head following the crisis of refugees from the Arab world. Once inside the EU, these refugees could migrate anywhere within the bloc, including Britain, raising the cost of providing social services and disrupting settled life. Britain was not the only EU country that opposed this unforeseen migration. In fact immigration control may yet break apart the EU, as the elite in Brussels insist that every EU country not only accept a dictated number of refugees but also that every country then allow refugees to migrate freely within the EU. A “hard Brexit” would remove the requirement that Britain accept more refugees than it believes it can assimilate. Uncontrolled border crossings would end as modest checkpoints are reinstated.

A separate border issue pertains to the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over goods. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and there has been much concern over continuing the free flow of goods into and out of the Republic of Ireland. This seems to be much ado about little. Most probably goods to and from the Republic of Ireland would be subject to random checks with very little hindrance on trade. The EU has lobbied for an “Irish backstop”, whereby Northern Ireland would remain in the EU for some period of time. Naturally this has incensed loyal British subjects, especially in Northern Ireland, and has almost no chance of being part of a “soft Brexit” deal.

A Positive Conclusion

In conclusion the effect of a “hard Brexit” on Britain itself should be overwhelmingly positive, especially if Britain does in fact remove all tariffs and conclude free trade pacts with the rest of the world fairly quickly. Naturally my advice to Britain is to unilaterally remove all tariffs on all goods, including “sensitive industries.” Free trade deals then become irrelevant. Britain could lead the way in showing the world the benefits of unilateral free trade, just as it did in the nineteenth century with the abolition of the Corn Laws. Perhaps this outcome is what the EU fears the most, because it would call into question the benefit of belonging to a closed customs union and would spell the end of the EU itself.

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The fight for Brexit is only just beginning

The fight for Brexit is only just beginning  By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 16 March 2019

Brexiteers, buckle in – our battle to defend democratic rights is about to heat up.

To see how serious the political elite’s war on Brexit has become, consider this: Tony Blair has been having secret talks with French president Emmanuel Macron on how to prevent Brexit from becoming a reality. Apparently, Blair has told Macron to ‘stand [his] ground’ against any kind of so-called Hard Brexit and to use his clout, and the EU’s clout, to pressure Britain to stay in the Customs Union and maybe even to hold a second referendum. To put this in plain, blunt English: a former British prime minister is conspiring with a foreign power to try to subvert the will of the British people.

In normal times, this would be a scandal of epic, epoch-defining proportions. There might have been riots, certainly protests. Blair would have been publicly shamed, possibly exiled. His name would live in infamy. But we don’t live in normal times. We live in an era in which most of the political class has ditched even the pretence of feeling a strong attachment to democracy. An era in reactionary anti-democratic sentiment is more casually expressed than at any other time in living memory. An era in which the chattering classes nonchalantly call for the overthrow of the largest vote in British history (the vote for Brexit), in which parliamentarians explicitly pit themselves against the people’s will, and in which anyone who so much as raises a peep about any aspect of this polite tyranny will be slammed as a hard-right menace to public life.

And so there is no widespread outrage over the fact that a former British PM is meeting with a tinpot Jupiterian who has subjected his own people to months of extreme violence. No frontpage denunciations of this Brit who has sided with the most violently repressive leader in Europe to try to ensure that the largest number of voters in British history don’t get what they want. Indeed, I bet that if anyone were to suggest that Blair is a traitor, they would be railed against. And yet, look up the word traitor in the dictionary. ‘A person who stops being loyal to their own country.’ What more apt description is there of a powerful Briton who is working with a foreign power to thwart the British people’s political desires? ‘How DARE you call us traitors?!’ – Remainer elitists do protest too much.

The Blair / Macron love-in is in some ways a better snapshot of where Britain is at right now than what will happen in parliament this week. For it reveals a bigger, more important truth than the parliamentary tussles over customs unions and delays to Article 50 do. It confirms that the crisis facing Britain right now is not a technical one of how to leave the EU and whether leaving the EU will cause economic difficulty. Rather, it is a crisis of democracy. It is a situation in which the very democratic premise upon which modern Britain has been built – at least since 1928, when all adults, including women under 30, got the right to vote – is being called into question. The scrapping over ‘how’ we Brexit disguises the far more profound question that has been thrown up by the British masses’ disobedient vote to Leave in June 2016. Which is this – do the people rule or do they not?

Of course, MPs should vote down May’s proposed deal. The supposedly Brexiteer Tories and the ostensibly Brexiteer right-wing press who have fallen into line behind May’s deal in recent weeks are behaving terribly. They know, in their heart of hearts, that May’s deal is ‘BRINO’ – Brexit In Name Only. In fact, her deal, as it stands, would be worse than the status quo. In potentially keeping us entangled in EU arrangements, while restricting our ability unilaterally to leave these arrangements, it would do the opposite of the thing that 17.4million of us voted for – it would reduce Britain to vassal-like status, where what the people demanded in the referendum was that we ‘take back control’. Control over our trade, our borders, our laws, our destiny. May is offering us non-control. She deserves humiliation in the Commons today.

The problem for us Brexiteers, however – and for anybody who believes in democracy, Brexiteer or Remainer – is that most of the parliamentarians lined up against May’s deal are not driven by an urge to protect the democratic will to take back control. On the contrary, their motivation is to find other, potentially more successful ways to suffocate Brexit. Some want to extend the Article 50 process, creating the conditions for the constant delay of the democratic will. Others want to force us to vote again. Including the Labour Party, in a spectacular betrayal of both its 2017 General Election manifesto and its traditional working-class voters, who tend to back Brexit. Blair is only doing in a more direct way what the rest of the establishment hope to achieve by other means. They are dedicated, most of them, to killing Brexit, whether by working with foreign powers to weaken it, or by demoralising the electorate by making us vote again, or by extending the process so that compromise inexorably overtakes democratic urgency.

We’ve been putting up with anti-democracy for nearly three years now. Ever since the 17.4million voted for Brexit, there has been a reactionary elitist pushback against the ‘low-information’ electorate, against the ideal of national independence, and against the hard-won value of democracy itself. Maybe it is a mistake, elitists have wondered out loud, to solicit plebs’ opinions on national, constitutional matters. How much longer should we put up with this? Why should we accept being spectators to the political class’s slow-motion betrayal of our democratic aspirations? Enough is enough, no? May’s deal should be voted down today. But that will be but a tiny blow in the broader battle to defend the vote for Brexit and the very idea that voting is important. Democrats should buckle up – the ideals of June 2016 remain under grave threat from reactionaries and traitors, and we will have to argue, march and fight in their defence.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Blackmail, Balderdash, & The Brexit That Wasn’t

Blackmail, Balderdash, & The Brexit That Wasn’t  By Tom Luongo, Zerohedge, 14 March 2019

After a lot of drama, British Prime Minister Theresa May came back from Brussels with a breakthrough on Brexit.

Only it wasn’t.

While the changes to the protocol that governs the implementation of the Irish Backstop are an improvement they are far fro enough to allay the rightful fears of Brexiteers and the Northern Irish.

From the beginning of this process, the EU has been in blackmail mode. They’ve made it clear that they would not negotiate in good faith or even at all. That much has been clear.

The biggest question has been whether May herself was working in the British people’s best interest or was she simply a stalking horse for further EU integration of the entire continent of Europe.

Never forget that the EU has imperial ambitions. Those that have been its architects saw it as regaining the mantle of the center of the world as the U.S. bankrupts itself maintaining an empire around the world, fighting against the rise of Russia and China.

It sits in the weeds, making byzantine bureaucratic law and building both a fiscal and political union through these under-handed back doors.

And the people of Europe have woken up to it. The Brits voted to leave the EU because of this. Euroskeptic parties are rising across Europe. The latest rebuke of the EU came in Austria’s Salzburg, a traditional center-left stronghold just voted for a Lega-style nationalist/populist majority.

Now people like Theresa May, who never supported Brexit, are using this negotiating period to hand to the EU everything it wants in the Withdrawal Agreement to blackmail the British people to accept an even worse arrangement than had they not voted to leave in the first place.

This point cannot be understated.

Because it is the model for how the EU will fight the rising opposition to its rule.

The withdrawal agreement was crafted by Germany and not negotiated by Jean-Claude Juncker and Michael Barnier to punish the U.K. for standing up to the inevitability of the EU.

It is a message and a warning to Italy, Hungary and Poland.

It was designed to cause irreparable damage to the U.K. with the long-term effects of destroying the majority political parties and fanning separatist instincts in Wales and Scotland.

And no one is more to blame for this mess than the members of Parliament who continue to virtue signal about the horrors of a no-deal which the British people have become less and less scared of every day. Poll after poll shows overwhelming rejection of May’s Merkel’s deal as well as growing support for a No-Deal Brexit.

And if the members of parliament who continue to go through the pantomime of an existential crisis would leave it aside and simply say that’s it, no deal it is, that would end the uncertainty and the worry that is now the dominant narrative in the press.

Businesses are relocating, shipments are stopping, etc. All because of Brexit, they argue. No, all because of MP’s who refuse to embrace the situation as it stands and face the reality that sovereignty is more important than a quarter or two of tightened belts and some annoying paperwork.

Moreover, the biggest fear now is the one which is that Britain ends up better off if they not only threw off the shackles of the EU but also its own corrupt and, frankly, traitorous leadership.

Theresa May’s performance in parliament before the latest vote was almost convincing. But, as always, when someone is giving you an ultimatum, my way or the highway, it’s masking an alternative choice.

The Dublin Unionist Party and the European Research Group within the Tories understand this. I suspect in his heart of hearts Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn

And the reason for this is May was always on their side. It’s not a negotiation when there’s only one side represented. This is why Juncker et.al. refused to negotiate in any meaningful way.

They didn’t have to.

And that is simply blackmail.

What is obvious watching British parliamentarians at this late stage is that a majority of them are unwilling to face reality that the EU is not in their best interest. Because any organization that would blackmail rather than negotiate is not an organization anyone decent person would want to be a member of.

Fears over a No-Deal Brexit are overblown. If these same MP’s that are so worried about the uncertainty created by the Brexit process would simply end that uncertainty by backing No-Deal then certainty would return.

It might not be the certainty that is the easiest to swallow for both sides but it will be certainty.

Mr. Juncker made it clear there is nothing better forthcoming. That’s an insult and it should be treated as such by Parliament.

But it won’t be as MP’s roll over, show Juncker their bellies and hand-wring about how unfair it all is again later this week.

They cannot see the bigger picture that it is the EU that has the weak hand, not them. They are too blinded by ideology and fear to see that.

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More articles concerning British ‘democracy’

About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management, you don't have the right to complain! If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com . My latest project has the interim title 'You’ve been conned. Much of what you were taught and read is largely irrelevant, misleading or plain wrong – this is the REAL story of life: past, present and our possible future.' The working paper so far comprises 105 pages, many listing references and interim conclusions. The main problem is finding sufficient credible evidence, and realising the more Iearn, the more I realise I don't know!
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