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Theresa May’s Full Plate of Issues: November 2017

by John Brian Shannon

It’s always a busy time for a British Prime Minister, isn’t it? Poor Winston had WWII to deal with and faced some very tough weeks, several British PM’s had utterly sleepless weeks during the height of the Cold War, and Maggie endured a backsliding economy, the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands debacle, and destabilization in Zimbabwe — and sometimes all in the same week.

Theresa May on the other hand, has “only” Brexit to worry about — complete with an increasingly hostile EU Parliament, Donald Tusk demanding evermore unearned money ahead of any agreement with the EU, a Conservative Party that offers lukewarm support, Cabinet members either not communicating well or going off in various directions, and uncertainty in Zimbabwe an important Commonwealth partner.

Sheesh Theresa, anything else?


Where Do We Go Now?

There are only two outcomes here; Either Theresa May crumples under the strain of things imposed on her by others, or she tosses the lot of them aside and rises like the British lion with steely eyed determination, hunting down each challenge and owning it.

And that will determine the Theresa May premiership for future historians.

Frankly, she’s been too nice, too accommodating, too gentle and too PC, and these are wonderful attributes for normal folk but terrible liabilities for sitting PM’s.

Such niceties are detrimental to progress for Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings or Queens, Popes, and Generals and Admirals because at a certain point someone (anyone!) must stand up and make the tough decisions and be seen to be in charge by their own people and by the public.

And in Britain’s case it’s got to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Full stop.


Don’t Hold Back Theresa, Tell Us How You Really Feel!

When the day finally arrives that Theresa May unloads on everyone trying to keep her ‘down’ is the day she will finally rise above the problems that surround her — most of which aren’t her fault BTW — although by being too nice, too docile, too accommodating, she may have allowed them to continue longer than is healthy for her and her government.


Theresa May’s To-Do List, November 20 – 27

  1. Fire the most problematic Cabinet minister (whomever that is)
  2. Tell Donald Tusk to take a hike! (Yes he’s a very nice man, but he’s NOT working for Britain’s best interest, is he?) See you sometime after January 1st, Donald.
  3. Inform the EU Parliament that a WTO Brexit is now Britain’s default option (but if they want to work something out, sure, we’ll consider it)
  4. Call the CEO’s of VW, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Seimens, and other notable EU companies to ask if they still want to export to the UK. (Just a friendly question, not one word more, not one word less) That will get them phoning their EU parliamentarians to ensure free and fair trade with Britain continues after Brexit!
  5. Invite Nigel Farage and other well-known Brexiteers to 10 Downing St. for a working lunch. (Why would she do this? Think about it. All she ever hears is the tired Project Fear / Professional Remoaner party line. A PM needs to hear both sides of every issue, every week, in order to make the best decisions for the country)
  6. She needs to inform her Conservative Party that lukewarm support just won’t cut it any longer and that party fortunes are falling due to the aforesaid lukewarm support. It’s time for the party to throw their entire weight behind Ms. May as the next 16 months are chock-a-block full and leadership contests are quite out of the question if anything of value is to be accomplished in that small-ish timeframe.
  7. Theresa May, more than anyone should be calling for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe to replace the possibly deposed but ailing 93-year old Robert Mugabe and offering as many UK and Commonwealth election observers as Zimbabwe requests. And she should dangle an amount equivalent to 1/10th the annual UK foreign aid budget in front of Zimbabwe in order to put some impetus behind the drive toward free and fair democratic elections there. Maybe Grace Mugabe will win one election which might smooth the transition to open democracy? You never know until you try.
  8. Ask the Foreign Office why the UK spends foreign aid money in any country that isn’t a Commonwealth member nation? It astonishing this has been allowed to happen. Keep the money in the family, Theresa! (No, it’s not her fault, it’s been going on for ages) Not one sterling in foreign aid should go to a non-Commonwealth nation. Ever. There are plenty of other countries to assist non-Commonwealth developing nations and it’s high time for them to step-up.
  9. Keep standing up loud and proud in the House of Commons. Some of Theresa May’s best days in office have been the recent PMQ’s where the PM dressed like the owner of the House of Commons and blasted anyone who tried to put one over on her. At the very least, give as good as you get Ms. Prime Minister.
  10. A lot less with the pleasantries Theresa, and a lot more banging your fist on the Cabinet table. If you don’t appear to be in charge, you’re not.

Don’t Let Brexit be ‘The Biggest Thing In The UK’ or the EU Will Own Your Narrative!

Sure, Brexit is important. But it’s only a means to an end.

What’s really important are the opportunities that come after Brexit, like the ability to trade with any nation in the world under rules decided through friendly bilateral talks.

It’s the ability to have a UK-only foreign policy. It’s the ability to allow only the people into the country that Britain wants and can afford to house and provide jobs — instead of being forced to accept millions of cast-offs from other nations, and to tailor Britain’s new infrastructure construction to actual, definable needs, instead of trying to provide enough appropriate housing during a time of staggeringly irregular refugee and economic migrant flows.

It’s the ability to create UK-only laws with the guidance of Britain’s best legal minds and with the approval of British citizens. (Although the European Court will continue to be an important source of guidance to UK courts, for a time)

And the UK won’t be sending (net) £8 billion annually to the EU just to be nice neighbours. ‘Oh Lovey, those nice Brits filled up the EU Parliament wine cellar again!’

Finally, ‘The Biggest Thing In The UK’ will again be the opportunity for it to become all that it can and should be — without restraint. And that should be Job Number One for every UK Prime Minister. Always.

Should the UK Have an Opinion on Catalonia?

by John Brian Shannon

As the UK remains a fully paid-up member of the 28-member European Union, it seems fair that the government should have a position on Catalonia’s recent move toward greater autonomy. Which in recent weeks, has grown beyond simple autonomy within the Spanish federal government architecture to seeking full independence, but the attempt has since been knocked down by the Spanish authorities.

Had the UK passed the Brexit threshold by now, it would be difficult indeed for the British government to have any public opinion at all as it then becomes a very different thing. It’s fair comment to opine on the internal politics of a fellow EU member state, but it is quite another for a non-member to criticize the goings-on in a foreign country.

For that reason, it’s well within Theresa May’s purview as the Prime Minister of a paid-up member of the European Union to comment on issues Catalonia.

Nigel Farage MEP certainly didn’t hold back from informing his viewers about his opinions on the Catalonian situation and it’s difficult to find flaws in his argument.

Certainly, it was a tragedy that 900 mainly peaceful protesters were injured and/or arrested by Spanish federal police, although many of those charges against protesters may be dropped in exchange for the much more serious charges against the police being dropped. Look for this to happen on a case-by-case basis. Many of the police are reputed to have used excessive force against the (probably annoying, but otherwise peaceful) protesters.

Until such times as Britain is no longer an EU member state, the UK and its citizens have every right to comment on the unfortunate Catalonian situation, but after Brexit I hope the government feels constrained about commenting on what will then be, a comment on the internal affairs of a sovereign bloc (the EU) a sovereign nation within the EU (Spain) and a state within that nation (Catalonia)


“What Goes Around, Comes Around”

This has been true since the universe began and were the British government to attempt to unduly affect the outcome (either way) in Catalonia, eventually it could work against the United Kingdom and conceivably against the Commonwealth, as there are rumours from time to time about disaffection among jurisdictions of either entity.

Therefore, it’s best for the UK government to comment in good form only and avoid trying to make political hay against the EU bloc simply because we may have other frustrations with them. (Hey, they’re frustrated too. It isn’t a one-way street. Let’s just get the Brexit done and not unduly antagonize the EU Parliament or its individual member states in the meantime, because that works better for the UK in the long run)


As a Member of the European Parliament and as a citizen of the United Kingdom, Nigel Farage has much more leeway to comment than the government, and his recent talk show brings up some fascinating points about Catalonia. Take a few minutes and watch Nigel take calls from all over the world about the attempted Catalonian secession.

Are British Women to Blame for High UK Immigration?

by John Brian Shannon

It’s a proven fact, men can’t bear children. Ask anyone.

Therefore, any children born in a country are going to be born to women. And before World War I, British females of child-bearing age were having 3.2 children on average which created a constant, but manageable population growth rate.

This translated into a healthy economy — all those new mouths to feed, clothe, educate and shelter — and such birthrates form the basis of every domestic economy.

In economies with a high national birthrate per fertile woman, a significant domestic economy exists and consequently, sending raw resources or manufactured goods to other countries *isn’t* required to prop up the economy.

When more people are being born than are dying every year, you have the perfect domestic economy — and exports are merely the icing on the cake — and what a ride it is when the domestic economy is growing and exports are growing every year! Woot!

That’s how Britain prospered for centuries, until WWI and WWII changed all that.


Let’s Skip Over the War Part and Get to the Results

Enough has been written and filmed about Britain’s part in WWI and WWII to fill entire libraries (as it should, and to every living and long-dead veteran, thank you again for our freedom!) but for our discussion today, let’s look at how two world wars changed the demographic picture of Britain.

Women entered the formal workforce and began to earn money.

This was done because the men were away fighting a war and the country was in a desperate labour shortage. Anyone who could turn a shovel, milk a cow, assemble a rifle, or ‘man’ a telephone exchange, was put to work immediately. Some workers were barely in their teens and had plenty of responsibility on their shoulders. The British people of the last century were truly an adaptable and amazing people who rose to every challenge and succeeded. Often at great personal cost.

With most of the men away, women worked up to 16-hour shifts on farms or in factories, and still cared for their household and any children that had been born prior to the war, and Britain’s birthrate fell precipitously. In fact, the birthrate per fertile woman fell below replacement levels and the population of the country as a whole, began to fall.

No country can sustain such a falling birthrate, however due to the extremely high wartime demand for weapons and other war matériel the economy continued to function. Not as well as prior to the war mind you, but it still functioned — and apart from borrowing money on the international markets to fund the war machine — Britain’s economy remained sound. The last payment on Britain’s WWI and WWII $120 billion war debt was recently repaid in 2006.


Economic Recovery and Birthrate in the Postwar Era

The result of all this war was that there was a postwar baby boom and Britain’s economy once again began to thrive.

Two profound things changed the British economy forever in the postwar era: 1) British women were likely to put off having children and continue working, and 2) in 1961 birth control pills became available to married women and were later made available to single women.

As a result, the birthrate per fertile woman in Britain again plummeted (replacement levels in Western countries is at 2.2 babies per fertile woman) and employers were eager to employ women who were happy to work for less than half of what men earned. In some cases, women were paid only 40% of what their male counterparts earned and no one thought anything about the discrepancy — not even the women.

Women’s participation in the workforce increased, and beginning in the 1970’s the rates of pay for women began to rise and even fewer babies were born to British women who were too busy earning income to want children.

Consequently, the government was informed by industry-centric economists to open the floodgates to foreign workers (starting in 1999) to meet the demand for labour in the country (which is a different way of saying, ‘bring in the kind of workers who will work for what we used to pay the women’ e.g. 40% of the wage rate for male workers) and British profits will rise again. Indeed they did, but unemployment among British citizens rose and downward pressure on wages began to be a measurable factor.

Company profits rose, British GDP rose, productivity fell but later recovered as the foreign workers became more proficient at their jobs and had a better understanding of the English language, and domestic demand for goods and services (which every economy is built on) skyrocketed.

All of it is an astonishing success story, Britain with its wartime partners winning two world wars, rebuilding its economy in the postwar era, adding millions of women to the workforce, the introduction of pharmaceutical birth control, near-parity for women’s wages in recent years, high profits for companies and a respectable GDP growth curve.

The downside for some is that it took millions of foreign-born workers migrating to Britain to sustain growth in the UK economy because British-born women would rather work than have babies. (Just like women in other developed countries)

Which brings us to the present moment.


Would UK Women Prefer to Have Babies, or Would They Prefer to Work?

The simple answer is, if they could afford to stay home and have babies, they would. Many studies support this finding although a certain percentage of women would continue to work until their 40’s before having children.

Even in this era of cheap birth control and relatively plentiful work for women, many women would prefer to stay home and raise children. But due to lower wages as a result of massive immigration many families cannot afford to have one wage-earner staying at home to raise children.

And we all know how enormously expensive raising children can be these days.


Are There Any Solutions?

There are always solutions. The question is, are they affordable and acceptable to the majority of citizens?

  1. Wages rise enough for one wage-earner to support the entire family and have enough money left over to take a nice, 3-week family vacation per year (like it used to be in the ‘old days’) OR,
  2. British citizens willing to go through the effort and expense of raising children must receive some kind of assistance paid by an incremental increase in the national taxation rate.

Eventually, everyone who pays taxes would be able to recoup the additional portion of the taxes paid when they themselves decide to have children.


Using a Parental Guaranteed Basic Income to Boost the UK-born Birthrate

Let’s say that UK-born ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’ want to have children. But because of the high costs of food, clothing and shelter in the UK (which you can partially blame on high immigration loads that force-up prices) they decide they must remain working until they can afford to have children. Many Britons are caught in this trap.

Why is it a trap? Because every year they remain working, the cost of everything continues to rise and they’re no further ahead after ten hard years of effort.

Both people working + one recession = no kids. It happens over and over. Working couples barely reach a point where they feel they can afford to start a family, and BOOM! along comes a financial crisis. Bad for the baby-blanket business!

It’s typical for recessions to occur every 15-25 years. So British-born couples like ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’ may never reach their goal of having children, like millions of other Britons. And if they finally get to the point where they feel they can afford a family — they’re 100 years old like Abraham and Sarah of ancient Mesopotamia.

And everyone wonders why Britain has a 1.89 birth rate per fertile woman, which is far below population replacement levels. As mentioned above, 2.2 births per fertile woman is considered replacement level in developed nations. If you want to grow the population and not just maintain the present number, then the birthrate value must rise above 2.2 births per fertile woman.

The UK has a long way to go to meet replacement levels, let alone begin to increase the population!

If that’s true, why does the UK population continue to increase? One word: Immigration.

Again, the solution if you don’t want ever-increasing immigration to prop-up your population and eventually replace the UK-born people;

  • Raise wages dramatically so that one wage-earner can afford to provide for the entire family, OR,
  • Families with children receive some kind of payment from the government financed by an incremental tax increase.

For those who don’t like higher taxes, hey, that’s your right. But don’t complain when your children are the last native-born Britons in the country!

Assuming you don’t want to hand Britain over to foreigners (even though some of them are very nice) UK-born women will need to be compensated for leaving their career and raising children.

A monthly payment can make the difference between a falling or rising birthrate.

If ‘Richard’ continues to work and ‘Anne’ receives a Parental Guaranteed Basic Income (PGBI) of £1088 per month, it might be enough for middle class families to get by with only one wage-earner.

In this way the negative birthrate problem in the UK will eventually be righted and massive immigration loads will no longer be required to sustain the UK population / and consequent domestic economy.

More UK-born children = fewer immigrants moving to the UK

Assuming both ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’ have worked since leaving school and paid their fair share of taxes, when they are ready to start a family they will do so secure in the knowledge they will be able to afford it due to the PGBI system. ‘Richard’ will earn his wages and ‘Anne’ will receive £1088 per month.

At income-tax time, they simply combine their income (let’s assume £80,000/yr for ‘Richard’ and £13,056 for ‘Anne’) and pay the normal amount of tax on their combined income of £93,056.

If they keep their expenses low, that’s enough annual income to raise one child until he/she reaches 18 years of age.

Which is certainly cheaper for the UK than paying double that amount to host one immigrant who will send much of his/her earned money to his home country to help his or her family for as long as he/she remains in the UK.

If we’re paying thousands per month for each immigrant (directly and indirectly) to sustain the UK population, why can’t we pay ‘Anne’ less than half that monthly amount to raise a UK-born child?

Eventually, ‘Richard’ and ‘Anne’s’ child will grow up to become a worker and he or she won’t be sending thousands of pounds sterling off to a foreign country every year (yes, the immigrants work very hard for their money — they can do what they like with it) but the UK-born child will simply spend their earnings in the UK economy, except for his/her vacations outside of the UK.

For as long as ‘Anne’ stays at home raising her children, she can continue to collect the £1088 per month PGBI until she returns to the workforce and begins earning more than that monthly amount, or when her child hits 18 years of age, her PGBI payments will be discontinued.

Obviously, the easiest way to run this programme is via a ‘reverse income tax’ where a person’s income, their partner and their child, all appear on the same income tax form. After filing their combined tax form, couples would be notified of their eligibility for PGBI and monthly payments would begin.

Caveat: As long as ‘Anne’ is receiving any amount of income over £1088 per month, either via unemployment insurance payments, annuity payments, inheritances, lottery winnings, gifts from family members, or from whatever other source, ‘Anne’ will not qualify for the PGBI payment. If she is earning less than £1088 per month (from all sources) the PGBI programme would top-up her personal income to £1088/month.

Although it sounds expensive, it would still be cheaper by half compared to the present method of paying immigrants to keep the UK population at a sustainable level and thereby keeping consumer demand high in the overall economy.


How to Pay for This?

Britons are already paying for it… TWICE OVER!

Each immigrant represents a significant cost to the British taxpayer, (and yes, they do work very hard to earn a living in the UK, no one is denying that) but in addition to using infrastructure and services in the country just like everyone else, there is a cost differential of about £100,000 per immigrant over their lifetime.

The Home Office / Border Force must devote considerable time and effort to immigrants with some costs happening even before the migrant lands in Britain.

Immigrants receive the same benefits as UK citizens such as welfare payments, and cost the government in other ways, including police, court, and incarceration costs, higher than average security and certain administration costs that are unique to immigrants — and they displace UK-born workers as they’re willing to work for lower wages.

In addition, they send billions of pounds sterling home every year. The figure of £20 billion per year is most often used — but it is likely much higher. Forget about official statistics, the UK government (like most governments) only records those foreign remittances that people volunteer (£3.2 billion) to share with the government. Banks and wire transfer services like Western Union know the real deal on foreign remittances.

And that’s costly to the UK economy. Just divide £20 billion by the 8 million foreign-born residents in the country and you’ll see how costly ‘foreign remittances’ are for the United Kingdom.

The final note on foreign remittances is terrifying. Such payments are notoriously difficult to prove, but the standard number of £20 billion/yr is a guesstimate. It’s widely acknowledged that UK foreign remittances may be double that amount, and could in the very worst-case scenario top £56 billion per year. And you don’t want to know the grand total of foreign remittances since 1999. No matter the number, it’s a lot of money leaving the UK that will never, ever, return.

What could those billions have done for the UK economy? We’ll never know.


‘Cutting Our Losses’ Covers Half of the Cost of a Parental GBI, but More Tax?

In addition to lowering immigration to low levels because UK-born women would be having more babies — there would need to be an incremental tax increase.

A Tobin Tax is simply a tax on all financial transactions in the country. It’s called an ‘invisible tax’ because banks and retailers simply add an internal 1% tax to each and every financial transaction and remit the revenue to the government annually.

  • Buy or sell some stock, it costs you 1% more than at present.
  • Buy a beer, it costs you 1% more than at present.
  • Take £100 from the ATM (yes, that’s a financial transaction) and the bank charges you 1% on the total amount.
  • Buy some petrol and 1% is automatically added to the cost.

Basically, whatever you purchase is going to cost you 1% more unless it’s something that costs more than £100,000 — because you pay the Tobin Tax only on the first £100,000 on any individual purchase. Which is nice when you’re buying an Airbus A380 or other large purchase.

Yes, nobody likes higher taxes that’s for certain. But there’s no rule that the Tobin Tax must be set as high as 1%. Some Tobin Tax proponents suggest it could be used to fund special projects like a GBI for UK parents only — in which case it could be set at .2% on individual purchases.

It’s your choice.

Does lower immigration, lower foreign remittance levels, more UK-born children to keep the population stable, and more jobs for Britons matter to you? Or does a Parental GBI funded by a .2% Tobin Tax nullify those gains?

Let us know in the comments!


Population & Density Charts for the United Kingdom 1950 – 2020


UK population pyramid information 1950 - 2020. Images courtesy of PopulationPyramid net

UK population pyramid information 1950 – 2020. Images courtesy of PopulationPyramid.net