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Brexit? Done! Post-Brexit EU Trade Deal? Done! Tying-off Remaining Odds & Ends? Erm…

1653-days after the UK held a referendum giving Britons their first opportunity to vote on EU membership, the Conservative government of the United Kingdom has succeeded in Brexiting from the European Union and agreeing a basic free trade deal allowing mostly uninterrupted trade to continue between the two European neighbours.

While the timeframe (4.5-years!) seems a long time, keep in mind that it takes two to tango and that the EU seemingly did everything in its power to delay Brexit and a post-Brexit trade deal, and it only relented when British politicians showed the strength and resolve to get the job done.

Very noteworthy is that every time the UK government seemed to dither or lose confidence, the EU quickly ramped-up their effort to quash Brexit and the post-Brexit trade deal that followed-on a year later.

“Every day we teach others how to treat us.”

Indeed! Therefore, European Union leaders have taught United Kingdom leaders to firmly and resolutely pursue all future goals with the EU and to never, ever, show weakness or indecision.

I hope that lesson has been learned by UK politicians. If it hasn’t, someone has been busy studying far less important matters.


As Expected, There Have Been Some Delays at the Ports

Of course, this was expected. How could it not occur when both sides spent 4.5-years bickering, rather than solving problems?

But, you get what you pay for.

Perhaps if we paid UK Parliamentarians double the remuneration we do now, we’d be twice as happy with them? Hmmm…

Minor gripes aside, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has gotten the job done — and that, in the middle of an unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic! Well done, Boris!

Yes, some minor adjustments will be required. It’s been reported by the BBC that some Northern Ireland shipments have been turned back or refused, and UK residents will face more paperwork than ever if they want to visit the EU, especially if they want to bring their pets along.

In summary, the whole process could’ve been smoother, faster and more complete. But aside from the few things to be worked out, Brexit and its follow-on trade deal with the EU has been delivered as promised by the Prime Minister and his government.


Hearty Congratulations to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to his Conservative Party, and to other Brexit Supporting UK Parliamentarians!

Rather than suffering a failure of statecraft, the leaders of the United Kingdom and the European Union got the job done in the middle of a massive COVID-19 pandemic and they deserve a huge round of applause and our undying gratitude!

Finally, the UK can begin to maximize its opportunities and again become a full partner in the world community of nations.

Finally, the UK can forge its own trade deals with other countries and blocs.

Finally, the UK can design its own foreign policy to benefit the interests of the United Kingdom and its people.

Finally, the UK can create its own domestic policies to benefit Britons and visitors to the United Kingdom.

Finally, the UK can renew and re-energize its relationships with the other Commonwealth of Nations countries.

And the UK can begin to concentrate on what works best for itself and its people, instead of having to clear everything with a foreign power, first.

Even while we’re still under the shadow of the horrible Coronavirus pandemic, its clear to see that the UK’s future is going to be bright and prosperous. Just give it a few months and we’ll see a reinvigorated country — one that no longer hesitates to reach for better and produce better than ever!


Now the UK can Get On With Building a Better Britain!

Now that the EU restraints have been cast-off, the UK will have a free hand to solve its domestic and foreign issues, and to become all that it can and should be.

Brexit has occupied 4.5-years of time and effort, and there was precious little oxygen left in the room to discuss other matters needing attention.

First on the list must be to complete the campaign to eradicate COVID-19 from the United Kingdom, to further assist both individual Britons and those businesses hurtfully impacted by Coronavirus, and to reset the economy when it is safe to do so.

Second, the UK needs to level-up the incomes of those stuck in the bottom economic quintile — thereby ending homelessness in the UK. Maybe the government will create a programme to pay unemployed Britons a minimum wage (or better!) to plant 1-billion trees per year in the UK, neatly solving three problems at once; Homelessness, Unemployment, and helping the UK to meet its CO2 Reduction Targets via their natural photosynthetic process whereby trees store carbon for up to 500-years, in the case of oak trees.

Third, the UK needs to put a major push to become a major exporting country like Germany. I can hardly wait for that! However, it is inappropriate to spend money, time and effort on this in the middle of a major Coronavirus pandemic.

Fourth, the UK needs to finish the many projects still on the books — like HS2 and others. But closely following those projects should be a plan to reclaim 100-square miles from the sea surrounding the UK, annually. In a country of 68-million (as of last week) all the existing land will soon be spoken-for, and thankfully, much of the sea surrounding Great Britain is shallow and therefore perfect to build-up and fill. Beside the obvious benefit, is that seawalls at 40-feet above the high tide mark will build resiliency into the UK’s shorelines with easily available rock and gravel/soil. Doing so at-scale means creating half a million good-paying jobs and building dozens of scenic golf resorts and hotels, thousands of seaside homes, and themed communities to support them.

And that’s just the beginning of the benefits of Brexit, folks!

Thank you again to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to government negotiators, to the UK Cabinet, and to all MP’s and Lords who followed the instructions of Britons and voted for Brexit and a post-Brexit trade deal! Well done!


Written by John Brian Shannon

1628-Days Since the 2016 Referendum and Still No Deal!

Well, I told you so.

And I’ve been writing since 2016, telling you that politicians on both sides of the English Channel haven’t got the horsepower to get a trade deal done that would benefit citizens, industry, and governments in both countries. And I was right!

Former Prime Minister Theresa May was ready to ‘sell the farm’ to the EU — virtually handing the entire UK over to the EU in a deal worse than what the UK already had with the European Union! — and even that wasn’t good enough for Brussels.

Which should’ve been the first warning sign. Don’t you agree?


The EU Doesn’t Want a Deal, They Want Things ‘Their Way’ or No Way at All

And I understand that. Nobody likes to be dumped. And there’s no rule that anyone is required to be happy about being dumped.

The EU had things ‘their way’ since 1999 when the UK joined the EU without Britons getting any say on the matter, and British taxpayers have paid £10 billion more per year into the EU annually (on average) than the UK received back from European Union in the form of ‘entitlements and benefits’. Some may use the term ‘subsidy’ but when you pay it to yourself (overpay) it really isn’t a subsidy, is it?

Certain EU politicians have been more petulant about the UK leaving the EU than has been seen in the entire history of world politics. It’s been an embarrassing spectacle. So un-cool. So un-European.

Not that some UK politicians have done better. Either they were ready to betray their country for 60-pieces of silver, or they were actively trying to destroy the UK so that it would have no choice but to stay in the EU, or they were making ridiculous assertions against the EU’s right to exist.

But what politicians and citizens on both sides of the Channel must realize is that the UK has already left the EU — and it’s in the best interest of citizens, industry and governments that both sides arrange a trade deal by January 1, 2021.


Run, Boris, Run!

But any deal the EU would agree to sign Britain’s Prime Minister would be wise to avoid — because the only deal the EU might sign would be so skewed in the EU’s favour that it would be detrimental to Britons, to UK industry, and to it’s trade relationships with other countries.

Therefore, Boris… Don’t Sign any deal with the EU!

Life will continue, tariff levels will be adjusted to WTO standards (the default trade standard between nations) and the UK will have the ability to sign trade deals with other countries/blocs without EU regulatory interference.

Snowflakes on both sides of the English Channel will be bleating that ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling, the sky is falling!’ but in reality, little people, it’s just snowing.

Oh, the trauma!

So, rather than despair, get yourself some outdoor time, take some long walks in the winter wonderland, enjoy the holiday season, and stop trying to arrange a trade deal that (for different reasons) neither side wants. And let’s get ready for a No Deal Brexit, just as I predicted would happen since 2016. And people, let’s make our 2021 slogan ‘Live and Let Live’.

Happy Holidays!


Written by John Brian Shannon

It’s Time to Nationalize the UK Rail System

There’s no getting around it, the UK rail system is in trouble!

UK rail systems were already facing significant challenges prior to the COVID-19 crisis, let alone what is expected to become a prolonged economic recovery — perhaps with successive waves of Coronavirus to further complicate things — and with some of the country’s rail operators falling into administration possibly within days. That disaster could unfold every week until every train in the country winds up parked.

Therefore, rather than allow a complete unravelling of the UK rail system via government inaction, Parliament needs to nationalize every rail operation in Britain and during this time of light ridership — solve every rail-related problem — beginning with standardizing the customer experience to the highest possible level.

Whichever rail operator has shown itself to be the most successful railway company over the past two-years (success = a good indication how a rail operator handles the profitable times AND an unprecedented national health crisis) should have their key managers hired by the government and placed in overall charge of the (proposed) then-government-run British Rail. That way the country will have the best-of-the-best operating that newly created pan-UK entity.

Click here to see Britain’s 2019 railway rankings.


Boris Has a Lot on His Plate, but This Is Important

Brexit is ultra-important, of course. No serious person would advocate for dropping things where they are and letting the present uncertainty continue. The government’s response to COVID-19 is super-important too, that goes without saying.

But millions of Britons ride UK trains every year; To work, to sporting events, to visit family, and to check on elderly friends who have no ability to run their own errands, or for some much-needed ‘retail therapy’ or for other reasons. Which makes the British rail system the 3rd-most important issue in 2020 for UK politicians, IMHO. Whatever else goes on in Parliament are politics that will inevitably work out over time.

Fixing the country’s rail system can’t wait because whether you’re a student, an employee, or an employer, trains are essential transportation in the UK.


Switching to Government Ownership

The government should purchase all rail systems at full market value and combine them into one mega-unit and merge them with Network Rail ASAP — putting the government in the position of owning ‘everything rail’ in the country. That way, there would be no delays or pushback whenever vital changes need to be made.

Some rail operators were in such rough shape financially — even before COVID-19 wrecked the economy! — that the purchase price might be £1 (only) along with assuming the existing operator’s corporate debt.

The government would be wrong to assume they have weeks or months to ramp-up to take control of every British rail company; Expect one rail company per month to fall under administration, beginning October 2020.

After a railway is shut down it’s more difficult to begin the process of fixing deficiencies once the former employees have moved-on to other jobs and management is consulting with the banks (and law courts) on outstanding financial issues, and their regular ridership are by then car-sharing or have made other lifestyle choices like quitting their jobs. (Why do that? No train, boss!)

Therefore, whatever the government does, they must actually begin to do it — next month. There’s no luxury of time here. Other than Brexit and COVID-19, this is the country’s most pressing issue and it needs to be handled. Yesterday.


Suggestions:

  1. The UK rail system is powered by high voltage (24,000 volt) overhead lines. This was done to make the UK rail system as CO2-friendly as possible. And while that part of it works well, those locomotives are only as clean as the National Grid that provides the electricity of which only 30% is renewable energy annually — much of it produced at night when the wind is blowing but no trains are running. Therefore, electric trains are dirty trains but only because of the source power plant emissions and the high-ish electricity transmission line losses experienced when dispatching electricity over long distances. However, as many electric locomotives are now nearing time for replacement, clean-burning bio-diesel locos could replace today’s electric locos, helping to create a more reliable railway.  And bio-diesel locomotives feature 80% lower emission levels compared to old-style diesel locos and (bonus feature!) schedule disruptions due to electrical grid failures will no longer occur.
  2. With the huge resources available to government, whatever major problems have been deferred by today’s rail operators due to the inability to afford expensive maintenance or upgrades would easily be afforded by the government acting as sole owner/operator of the country’s entire railway infrastructure. Yes, some immediate infrastructure spending would be required, but as the man says, ‘You can pay me now (a little) or you can pay me later’ (a lot) yet, once the upgrades would be completed the entire UK rail infrastructure would last several decades.
  3. The profound and expensive changes needed throughout the British rail system haven’t been made, can’t be made, and won’t be made by leaving them in the hands of private companies. There isn’t enough profit at the best of times to make both Profit and Necessary Upgrades to their systems. UK rail operators can either have profit or they can make necessary upgrades — not both.
  4. No private rail operator would say it publicly because saying so would affect their bottom line and risk upsetting their shareholders, but they’ve taken the business model as far as possible — and nobody likes to admit defeat! — but they did the best they could within the constraints they operate under. They can’t say it, but it’s time for the government to take back control of the country’s railway networks, fix what’s broken, upgrade what needs upgrading, and once the whole enterprise is purring like a kitten, sell it as a (by then) successful and profitable operation via IPO. The entire upgraded and profitable enterprise could fetch £1 trillion (approximately) 10-years from now, thereby allowing the UK government to (more than) recover the cost of righting the country’s rail system. Woot-Woot!

Written by John Brian Shannon