Brexit Britain, The Boris Touch

Brexit seems to be one of those long Broadway plays that the Brits like, with pointless intrigues, family feuds and an ending that could be predicted at the beginning. A confined theatre is a British temple, Brexit is now being played in the boundaries of Britain with the whole world as spectator and Europe in the demonic role.  A new twist has been introduced to what was becoming the Brexit writer’s block. It has been spiced up with an unexpected Eastern flavour, the Boris touch, with the ending become ever more exciting, dramatic and cliff hanger. Boris has brought a new dimension into British politics, so far missing.

The West and particularly the English, like to be seen to be playing fair by the rules. Rule of law is the official religion of the United Kingdom. Like all religions, it is a fairy tale idealism which works for most things with some degree of hypocrisy but gets stuck when real life gets tough. When the ‘rule of law’ is not working for the English or comes to a dead end, the English scuttle around to find a loophole in the small print, divide the opposition, and transfer the blame. Usually it moves on with a deviant combination of creative energising of the almost hidden small print, confounding the opposition and aided by the lack of a constitution which enables flexibility in interpretation of ‘convention’. The history of the Empire is full of this tactic.

Unfortunately for the English, the Europeans are also immersed in this skewed game of rule of law and are familiar with the British tactic. Hence attempts at dividing the EU, at making the Europeans the scapegoat for refusing to accept a ‘messy and fantasy solution’, and failing to treat the Brits on par with the gods, has all failed. Remember, ‘gods’ are usually above the everyday laws of mortals. Along comes Boris Johnson to save a play repeating scenes under Theresa May. The public attention was waning.

Boris has a Turkish ancestry, on the great grandfather, so a percentage of him brings an Eastern approach now to the Brexit game. The East generally sees rule of law as a utilitarian tool used by the politically powerful while they remain above it. It is no wonder ‘rule of law’ does not appear to work as ‘equitably’ in most countries east of Greece as it seems in the west. Perhaps the difference is that in the west there is craft, pretence and play when rule of law is bent, whereas in the East, power dispenses with the drama and gets to the desired outcome unashamedly.

The UK has now brought in the ‘curry’ option. With the Brexit stasis becoming deeply sclerotic as Parliament could not find any road, lane or even a rope to pull itself through the self-imposed barriers, in came Boris with his eastern temperament woken.

He first warned the Brits of the great Turkish migrant invasion for which only Brexit was a defence. In April 2016, Mr Johnson warned: “I am very pro-Turkish but what I certainly can’t imagine is a situation in which 77 million of my fellow Turks and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all. That is mad – that won’t work.” Now with his Turkish roots he is Prime Minister. Talk about ironic prophecy.

He has dismissed the sacrament of every convention and unwritten rule that has prevented the Crown to institute a proper Constitution and which defined the mystery of Britain. He found the greatest loophole. There is no written constitution so why not open the gaping hole that had so far been covered with customised verbal straw, that is convention. He has driven a bulldozer through propriety of office and government.

Extraordinarily, he is the leader of Britain that every politician and commentator who can say so does say so without embarrassment that he cannot be trusted! Imagine, a country being asked to live by rule of law, have integrity but its leader unashamedly is considered a pathological liar in office! Brexit has brought politics to this level. A new for the office of Her Majesty’s Prime Minister.

Boris prorogued Parliament (suspended now) for long period against convention until courts reversed it: and then against ‘traditional wisdom’ threw out the most staunch members of the Conservative Party who were considered its pillars if not foundation, including grandees and Churchill’s son; has says anything to anyone as they want to hear and then denies he said it; exploited the Queen in his machinations and even called Parliament to sit on an emergency war footing on a Saturday. The unwritten constitution has been exposed by him as the infamous Emperor’s non-existent clothes.

Like leaders in some eastern countries, Boris is pushing as far as is possible, breaking convention as far is possible and ignoring etiquette as far is possible until people go to the courts to stop him. If he carries on, sooner or later the courts will be in a knot.

Brexit has not been done yet but it has taken its toll. It is a war come home and grown into a multidimensional civil war. It is almost the Middle East without the violence. The different camps range from no Brexit, to a Brexit with no Deal to a Brexit with any Deal to a Brexit with a Deal with Customs Union with Europe (meaning obeying EU regulations) and a Brexit with labour laws aligned with Europe and so on.

The British parliament itself is a spectacle. No party can command complete loyalty, (except perhaps Scottish Nationalists). Parties dominating England and Wales all have conspirators galore now.

Britain, or at least England has changed and will change for ever after this. This is a tectonic phase in modern Britain. Calls for a proper written constitution are growing. Some are even predicting the end of the Monarchy on whom convention depended. Some are predicting a move away from the simple majority democracy that UK has and some are predicting a new phase in which smaller parties will reign, perhaps a proportional representation model of some European countries.

The end of United Kingdom is prophesised by many a pundit and politician now. Few think that the country can be united after three years of bitter differences. Scotland is gearing up for another referendum. Northern Ireland’s nationalists are muting a referendum to separate from Britain in near future. That leaves Wales and England.

It is also interesting that this country which ran a racist Empire once, now has its four most important positions in Government run by children of migrant families. The PM has Turkish roots, born in New York. The Foreign Minister is son of a Czechoslovakian Jewish father, The Home Minister is daughter of East African Gujratis and the Chancellor is a son of Pakistani immigrants. It shows how far Britain has come in being a real multicultural and multiracial country. With Brexit, a new Britain is rising as Imperial Britain is dying.

As for Brexit, Boris Johnson is likely to favour a Brexit Deal where Northern Ireland is ditched. The majority of English see Norther Ireland as a burden. He may even stitch up with Scottish nationalists and offer them a referendum. He is likely to get support from some Labour MPs so he can ignore the Northern Irish Unionists (those who want to remain within UK, DUP) who have been a major obstacle to any agreement on Brexit.

After all this real life and often humorous grand Brexit theatre which has made Comic halls irrelevant in London at the moment, and which has made West End plays appear as Children’s entertainment, the end game may still be another referendum and back into EU after a short Brexit. But Brexit Britain will have undergone fundamental change in these three years of internal trauma. It is already being seen very differently by the rest of the world but will be even more after the Boris touch at the heart of an Imperial power that made ceremony, pomp, convention and tradition the sacred unwritten constitution of Great Britain. All that is being blown away by Boris the Turk.

UK House Rejects Brexit Deal Yet Again

British Parliament on Tuesday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time, tossing the UK into the unknown, 17 days before it is due to split from the European Union.

Even after May secured further guarantees from Brussels over its most controversial elements the House of Commons voted by 391 to 242 to reject the deal, reported CNN.

Following the rejection of the deal second time, the Members of Parliament have been promised another vote on Wednesday, wherein they can decide whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal. If that, too, is rejected, parliament could then vote on whether to request a Brexit extension.

Britain is scheduled to end ties with its biggest trade partner, EU, after 46 years on March 29, However, this move can throw the nation into a state of economic chaos.

Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk said that the EU is “disappointed” by tonight’s Brexit result. He further said that it has done “all that is possible to reach an agreement” with the UK.

“Given the additional assurances provided by the EU in December, January and yesterday, it is difficult to see what more we can do. If there is a solution to the current impasse it can only be found in London,” Tusk said in a statement.

“With only 17 days left to 29 March, today’s vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. We will continue our no-deal preparations and ensure that we will be ready if such a scenario arises,” he added.

Earlier, May had managed to secure “legally binding changes” to “strengthen and improve” Britain’s Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union, according to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.

The British Prime Minister’s previously clinched deal with the EU has been rejected once by the Parliament already. Scores of MPs voiced their discontent, outlining the Irish backstop as a major roadblock to the parliamentary acceptance of the deal.

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has time and again labelled it as a “botched deal”, having previously announced his Labour Party’s intent of holding a public vote to avoid a “damaging Tory Brexit.” (ANI)

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Brexit Deal: Has The European Union been duped?

the deal that the British establishment wanted anyway. The Brexit negotiations were high political war, entrapping the opposition to believe that ‘it has a winning plan’. Of course the EU had a plan, but the plan has been shepherded into a narrow pass where Britain can triumphantly walk away with the prize and fatally wound the adversary. What successive British Governments and the majority of voters wanted was an end to free for all immigration from Europe. The rest was irrelevant to the masses who flocked to the ballot box and ticked for ‘exit’ in 2016. Slogans such as sovereignty, free to trade with the rest of the world without EU rules, make our own laws etc etc do not impact on the ordinary Brit. The average person struggling to make ends meet is hardly going to become prosperous because British Business can ‘freely’ trade with China, India or Africa. His/Her lot remains the same. The British system like many capitalist systems, works in favour of the rich. The middle classes and the poor suffer whether they are in EU or outside. It is the businesses who compete outside Europe who want an economy without EU rules on worker rights, basic protections, protected hours etc. Essentially they want to create a China, India or Bangladesh in UK as a sweatshop economy that goes further than zero hour contracts. There are enough working class Brits and migrants who could be forced to live in even further poverty. The UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty has already given a damning report on poverty in the UK. Instead of concentrating on solutions, the Government has hit back taking the Trumpian approach ‘Fake News’. No doubt Prof Philip Alston started by saying the Government is in denial. Immigration is not the agenda of the Business class. In fact for many businesses, illegal migrants and even European labour was working out cheaper than hiring British workforce, whether in the farms, factories or even in the white collar sector such as computing etc. But this was becoming unsustainable against an angry British voter. The way out for businesses reliant on cheap labour was to force down wages within UK and do away with EU regulations on labour The British working classes like the poor in many countries become their own worst enemies by falling prey to propaganda. EU migration was easily controllable and manageable. Britain however chose not to do so. Two former Labour Home Secretaries have written on how this could have been done. On the other hand over the years, successive British Governments, most businesses who trade with EU and the general population have sought to have tariff free access to EU but without European oversight on labour standards. Of the four pillars of EU solidarity, the British public didn’t like free flow of labour, or rather EU citizens while the establishment didn’t like European working hour directives etc. In some ways that is exactly what has been achieved in this withdrawal agreement. United Kingdom will be able to close its borders to uncontrolled migration from Europe after the transition period. The populace will be happy, acquiring further misery unwittingly. Britain will have access to EU markets during the withdrawal agreement. Its hope is that during this period, Europe will see the benefit of friction free trade with United Kingdom or reach comfortable levels of tariffs that will ensure trade between the two. A healthy trade between UK and Europe benefits both. Low tariffs and some degree of seamless flow of trade will benefit both. No doubt the technicalities of enabling this will be found. Eventually when this settles, United Kingdom will have the freedom to strike deals with the rest of the world without EU constraints on standards. No doubt UK will be discreetly engaging in reaching trade deals as officially it won’t be permitted to do so while still in the transition period. With this clever move, UK will have succeeded in breaking two of the four pillars of European integrity, the free movement of people, and jurisdiction of European Court. That United Kingdom has to accept EU rules for this duration is neither here or there. That European Court will have final say in some cases, is also not really a sacrifice except for those emotionally hung up about ‘sovereignty’.  Most of the principles of EU laws have been written by British academics and lawyers anyway. After the transition period, EU remit will only apply to trade with EU. The two areas that the deal got stuck at is Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Northern Ireland is politically sensitive. The Northern Irish loyalists, the Protestant community, want to stay within United Kingdom. A fact no one likes to say in public is that the English are not that keen on Northern Ireland. If they had their way, Northern Ireland would long have been freed from mainland Britain. The Northern Irish loyalists know this well. They know that if the circumstances are right, United Kingdom will shed Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has been a drain on UK resources for a long time. The current deal paves the way for that time to come. With special arrangements for Northern Ireland  to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, there will inevitably and de-facto be two separate regions in UK with different trade deals  and access to Europe. Effectively there will be two different jurisdictional arrangements, hence two different countries. Once that happens the political climate for a referendum to separate from UK will become ripe in Northern Ireland. The DUP, the party of protestant loyalists know that well. They also know that a significant number of protestant Northern Irish will vote to join the Republic of Ireland and separate from United Kingdom. The old animosities are fading away in the population. But for the hardliners, centuries of struggle by loyalists will be lost. England will be smugly satisfied. Europe will have done for it what it could not do by itself. This is also why Jeremy Corbyn is against another referendum in UK on EU membership. His links with and sympathies for Sinn Fein and its cause for northern Ireland to break from UK go back several decades if not most of his political life. A second EU referendum will deliver a vote in favour of staying within Europe thus frustrating the ambition of the Northern Irish republicans. After a bit of an opposition and with some further concessions by May, Labour Party under Corbyn is  most likely to vote for the current deal. His claims of being able to achieve a deal which keeps UK in a permanent free trade with Europe are humbug only to keep the large contingent of remainers in his party hoping. Gibraltar is another issue. The UK and Spain will come to some mutually agreeable arrangements. Again that is for another day. [caption id="attachment_33840" align="alignnone" width="300"] Michel Barnier, the Chief EU negotiator[/caption] Europe on the other hand has been a spectator to theatricals and drama in UK. The Brexiteers are genuine. Their campaign is genuine. Letting them jump up and down worked in favour of May. She could dupe the Europeans into thinking that what she was conceding was capitulation in the eyes of many of her country people. Having exasperated the Europeans for two years with the Brexit bulldogs been given an open season, Britain has managed to make Europeans think that PM May agreeing to some European Court oversight and accepting European rules during withdrawal is a risky sacrifice that she is making against the mightl of the powerful Brexit lobby.  The Northern Ireland dilemma does not bother the English but it is being played as an enormous and unsolvable problem. What Europe is losing is far more serious. Its determined stand to keep the four pillars to sustain its integrity is being slowly eroded. By blocking free movement and eventually getting a reasonable deal for trade, Britain will have set an example to other EU countries with nationalist movements pitched against European integration. In the Brexit deal are the seeds of European project coming apart.  Theresa May is a brilliant strategist. As usual, the British civil service has risen to the challenge with ingenuity, intrigue and cunning. As more and more British MPs realise the intrigue in the deal, the challenge to May is receding. Michel Barnier, the Chief EU negotiator and jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission President will have delivered a deal that the British wanted in the first place, outwitted by Oliver Robins, the civil servant masterminding the negotiations and Sir Tim Barrows, the UK’s representative to EU. As usual it will be a bit late when they realise the trap they walked into.]]>

SALISBURY AND THE BAGGAGE OF HISTORY

Salisbury. Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary said in his usual unhesitating style. “All evidence points to the Kremlin” and even said that Putin directed the attempted killing of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal  and his daughter Yulia with nerve agent, allegedly ‘Novichok’.  Russia is refusing to accept culpability, direct or indirect, in the poisoning of the Russian defector. While tensions rise a few notches daily, the world watches wondering where the truth lies. The episode makes no sense but it has the potential to escalate into one of those incidents that create their own vortex reaching the edge of dangerous standoffs, threatening peace, economic stability and international order. The UK is already taking steps to protect energy, financial services and water from possible Russian cyber attacks. Why would Russia order the death of an agent who has nothing further to reveal? According to the British, it is revenge for betrayal of fatherland and a lesson to others who may be thinking of jumping ship. Other theories that are doing the round are that Putin wanted to boost his strong man image or that Russia wants to sink Britain further in its Brexit isolation, as it seems to be losing friends in Europe. Russia on the other hand is accusing Britain and its allies of trying to sabotage the World Cup (Football) being hosted in Russia and is even suggesting that an ex-soviet country or another country might be involved in precipitating tensions. Apart from the British claim that the poison was Novichok, a Soviet era chemical weapon, possibly placed in the car of the couple, there are no other facts. There is more than an element of who done it intrigue.  There is a whole history of crying wolf, waging wars on unsubstantiated evidence and third parties laying pathways for western invasions to destroy their own enemies. The Iraq war screams ‘doubt’ at the British Prime Minister, Theresa May’s assertion that Russia was responsible. As does Libya, Syria and then there is a whole history before, when spurious reasons and staged treaty violations were used as excuse to invade and colonise Kingdoms around the world. British colonial history is an interesting reading of intrigue, deceit and cruelty on a grand scale. Then there are third parties who recognise the Anglo Saxon countries’ vanity and lust for wars and have effectively recruited their (the west) firepower to destroy their own enemies. The Iraq war is reputed to have been partly schemed by the Mullahs of Tehran. Apparently the ‘Mullahs of Tehran’ had prepared four agents to work in different departments of Saddam’s regime at considerably senior positions. These agents defected to the United States to different agencies. All four of them cooked up a narrative, albeit slightly different from each other, of Saddam’s nuclear weapons programme. Thus the WMD story gained  ‘irrefutable’ evidence as Blair’s report said and as the United State’s secret agencies reported. The west fell for it and the rest as they say is history. Iran has benefitted most from the Iraq war by eliminating its enemy Saddam Hussain and then managing the Shia majority of Iraq to control political power. This wasn’t the first time that the west, particularly United Kingdom and USA, have been led to a conflict they were rooting for. Libya is another one. The rebellion within the country and Qaddafi’s heavy handedness to it attracted western intervention but the west had failed to see that the rebellion had considerable elements of Islamic Jihadi contingents who promoted themselves initially as democracy loving rebels! The Syrian war is yet another conflict where the intrigues of Sunni powers in the region against Shia Iran drew the west to help Syrian rebels. Within a year, the Islamic State had taken over large chunks of land, funded and aided by some powerful regional interests. Theresa May is in a difficult place. Russia is suggesting that a third country may have  carried out the poisoning in order to deepen tensions between Russia and the west. Russia and other sceptics of the official British position are pointing to historical precedence and Britain’s eagerness to believe unsubstantiated evidence to justify aggression. What the British press calls solidarity from the international community is in fact support from a few allies who have a common interest in opposing Russia. The British press still thinks in colonial terms, describing any western alliance as the ‘international community’, ignoring that there are some 150 or more non European countries in the world and UN now.  But then they were not considered as ‘international community’ during colonialism. [caption id="attachment_25654" align="alignleft" width="610"] (Xinhua) — British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson[/caption] Anyway the ‘non international’ community is a little hesitant to accept the British position without further evidence. It isn’t helped by a British Foreign Secretary who few countries take seriously with his reputation for making rhetorical and sometimes bruising comments. There is also the inter dependency of many European countries on Russian gas and oil which makes them think twice before rushing to rally behind Theresa May. Brexit and the unnecessary tirade of unflattering statements by various British Politicians about EU’s major countries has cooled some of camaraderie that Britain enjoyed with EU. An escalation of this tension could end up with Europe and Russia and indeed the world economy in a bit of a sorry state. That the majority of the British people support the Prime Minister’s tough stand is no encouragement to the world to believe the British assertion. The British public supported the Iraq war, the Syrian war and the Afghanistan war, only to regret later. The British public is usually very susceptible to the media. [caption id="attachment_25655" align="alignnone" width="857"] (180315) — RUSSIAN EMBASSY, LONDON, March 15, 2018 (Xinhua) — (Xinhua/Stephen Chung) (swt)[/caption] Nevertheless despite all these factors, this may well be the one time that the instincts of the British Government are spot on and Russia may well have sought to eliminate the Skripals to discourage others, taking advantage of Britain’s slightly weakened position. But Britain has cried wolf too may times. That may well be the historical baggage that Russia has used to its advantage to create doubt. It would have been better for Britain to have immediately engaged the proper international body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for independent certification and enquiry while expressing its own concerns explicitly at the same time. Independent evidence would have placed Russia in a very difficult position. The position of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is not an envious one in this. If she had not done what she did, the British public would have judged her weak yet on the other hand it has weakened Britain’s hand within the international system. However, regardless of all this, it has gained her popularity in Britain, restored her lead over her opposition, Jeremy Corbyn but it has also further strengthened Putin in Russia.]]>