Home » Britain
Category Archives: Britain
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first speech since Brexit occurred on January 31, 2020 where he calls for free and fair trade between the UK and other countries, and indicates that the UK won’t be bound by EU trade rules that penalize the UK or work to penalize Britain’s other trading partners.
He also speaks well of the Canada – EU (CETA) free trade agreement and proposes to use it as a model for the UK and the EU to begin trade talks.
Finally, the Prime Minister suggests that trade with America and the Commonwealth of Nations countries must be ramped-up over the coming months and years.
All in all, an inspiring and well-balanced speech about the UK government’s position on trade with the world.
Transcript courtesy of: GOV.UK
It has been an eventful 2019, hasn’t it?
I can hear you saying, ‘Please don’t go there!’, and I don’t blame you a bit for saying it.
In 2019, the UK lurched from one disaster to another; From weak Brexit politics and its concomitant economic uncertainty, to floods, to troubles within the major political parties and miss-steps with Britain’s allies. It has been a mess.
Consequently, 2020 can only be better. YAY!
Still, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson united the formerly disunited Conservative and Unionist Party, which is now sitting at 365-seats strong — strong enough to pass almost any bill it wants — including a Brexit bill allowing the UK to leave the European Union on January 31, 2020, and a requirement for the UK and the EU to agree a trade deal by December 31, 2020 (or a so-called ‘No Deal’ Brexit will occur, which isn’t the worst thing in the world as WTO rules would automatically kick-in until a trade deal between the two parties is signed) that will set the rules and regulations (and the tone) for all future trade between the UK and the EU.
So, yeah, it’s important. To both sides. Try not to screw it up!
What We’d Like to See in 2020
Here’s a short list of some of the non-Brexit legislation that LetterToBritain.com would like to see passed in 2020 (legislation that would actually be passed into law in 2020) that would make the UK stronger economically, environmentally, and militarily.
- Legislation requiring one tree planted in the UK per each new vehicle sold in the UK by 2021. For cars and trucks that get over 50-miles per gallon automakers should fund the planting of 1-tree per new vehicle sold — but cars and trucks that get worse mileage than that should be required to plant 2-trees per new vehicle sold. The thinking is this: One giant sequoia tree can remove and store as much as 1400 metric tons of CO2 — which, astonishingly, is equal to the lifetime CO2 footprint of the average American citizen. Check out that claim here. Sequoia trees are the largest trees on planet Earth but even a mature Douglas fir or Oak tree can capture and hold hundreds of tons of CO2 in their trunks, branches and roots.
- Legislation requiring all ships to use clean power while in UK waters by 2021. Ships should be connected to cleaner ‘shore power’ instead of idling their engines while tied-up at port, and legislation requiring all ships over 20-tons displacement to use hydrogen fuel or battery power anytime they’re inside the UK’s 12-mile marine zone, and legislation requiring Royal Navy ships to use biofuels (as is already done in the US Navy) or better, to use natural gas, or even cleaner hydrogen fuel, or sail on 100% battery power like the US Navy’s newest and best destroyer, USS Zumwalt. Shipping represents just over 2% of global CO2 emissions, which could be cut in half by merely substituting biodiesel instead of bunker fuel. (Older ships may not easily transition from bunker or diesel fuel to biodiesel as biofuel tends to degrade low-quality rubber seals and gaskets, therefore, some small amount of subsidy should be offered to shipbuilders and yachtbuilders in the UK to ensure that all new ships are biofuel compatible)
- Legislation requiring 50/50 biofuel blended UK civil aviation fuel and UK military aircraft fuel by 2021. Like shipping, civil aviation contributes just over 2% of global CO2 emissions, which could be cut to 1% of global CO2 emissions via the use of biofuels. Today’s jet aircraft can burn biofuel with only minimal upgrades to rubber seals and gaskets. In fact, Boeing reports that because biofuels burn cleaner, engine maintenance costs fall due to less soot build-up and CO2 emissions can fall by up to 80% on civilian aircraft flights. And for the military, clean burning biofuels leave no smoke contrails behind the aircraft which is an important consideration to military aircraft survivability in combat zones! Sourcing biofuel is a little more challenging, because at the moment almost every drop of biofuel produced in the world is sold in Brazil and South Africa where cars burn a 50/50 biofuel blend and consequently, car emissions are 45% lower when compared to conventional petrol. Biofuel burns much cleaner than the best grades of petroleum-based fuels as… wait for it… there’s absolutely no sulphur in biofuel! And as you may know, cobalt removes most of the sulphur from petroleum-based petrol and diesel fuel and so much of it is used in the petroleum refining process that most of the world’s annual cobalt production is used for this purpose. All battery manufacturing on Earth utilizes only a fraction of total cobalt production, yet this fascinating point remains below the radar of the mainstream media.
- Legislation requiring all low-income senior citizens’ monthly income to be topped-up to £1200. per month via the reverse-income tax method and they should also receive free medical, free dental and free prescription medications (if their private or government pension plan doesn’t already include these three benefits). Any senior trying to survive on less than that amount plus those three benefits will simply cost the healthcare system, food banks, or their families hundreds or even thousands of pounds annually. How the UK treats its low-income seniors is a national disgrace! Seniors built the great UK we see today and they did it without the internet, smartphones, air conditioning, the social safety net (which still needs improvement) and they did it with lower labour standards. And worse than that. Toss in a couple of world wars, the Cold War, a few recessions, an overburdened NHS a scale of change they lived through unlike anything since the Industrial Revolution and it’s safe to say they’ve earned it. So let’s show our respect to UK seniors by helping them to live out their remaining years a little more comfortably.
Here’s a family doing a great thing for the UK: Prince William launches ‘Earthshot Prize’ to help speed climate solutions
Wishing All of You a Safe, Happy and Prosperous New Year!
No matter which side of Brexit you were on, regardless of which political party you favoured in the 2019 election, and regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or anything that could be construed by Britain’s critics as a way to divide us… there is simply much more that unites us than divides us. May that ever be the case.
Wishing all of you an enjoyable New Years’ celebration and a happy and prosperous 2020!
In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, the people of Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands have complained that emergency aid from the UK was late in arriving.
Indeed, while the UK was still formulating its response, French President Emmanuel Macron had already visited the French overseas territories of St. Martin and St. Barts, staying overnight and sleeping on a camp cot in a military tent after promising islanders their communities will not only be rebuilt — but will be rebuilt better than before.
Nearing the end of a sweeping visit to assess the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma, French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the wrecked island of St. Martin and diversify its economy away from tourism.
“What we have seen today are people determined to rebuild and return to a normal life,” Macron said Tuesday in a news conference. “They are impatient for answers and some are very, very angry. The anger is legitimate because it is a result of the fear they have faced and of being very fatigued. It is certain that some want to leave, and we will help them in that effort.”
He said France was bringing in air-conditioned tents so children can start classes again soon, and that a center would be established by Monday to begin processing requests for financial help.
Macron pledged to rebuild St. Martin as a “model island” that would be a “showcase of French excellence” in terms of its ability to withstand storms. “I don’t want to rebuild St. Martin as it was,” he said. “We have seen there are many homes that were built too precariously, with fragile infrastructure. The geography of the homes was not adapted to the risks.”
‘I don’t want to rebuild St. Martin as it was’: French president vows help for Irma’s damage in Caribbean (Business Insider)
As the French President toured the French islands destroyed by Irma, 1000 British troops arrived in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla to help residents who rode out the storm.
Like President Emmanuel Macron the day before, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also faced criticism from islanders who said that too little emergency assistance had been rendered too late.
OECD Rules Miss the Mark on Emergency Aid and Development Assistance
Complicating British, French and Dutch emergency assistance efforts are regulations by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that prevent countries from rendering aid to wealthy or developed nations in an attempt to keep much-needed aid flows going towards developing nations.
However, and even with the best of intentions, those OECD rulings have caused at least two European countries to miss the mark on emergency aid, post-Irma.
In the British case, removed from the OECD’s Official Development Assistance list were Anguilla (2014) Turks and Caicos (2008) and the British Virgin Islands in 2000.
One wonders what could have prompted OECD officials to create regulations that (de facto) prevent assistance to wealthy island nations ravaged by hurricane in this case. Aren’t they aware that hurricanes occur every year in the Caribbean?
When You Know You’re Right – ACT!
It seems appropriate in these situations that UK (and French, and Dutch) governments should simply ignore regulations by any regulatory body (in this case, it was the powerful and usually brilliant OECD) and just go ahead and do what needs doing — taking care of the needs of traumatized, injured, and suddenly homeless residents. The OECD has no military; It can’t enforce the regulations in situ.
When your people need help in an emergency, the onus is on leaders to ignore deficient regulations/legislation and do the right thing.
Certainly, leaders like Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, or Helmut Kohl wouldn’t have been deterred from sending generous amounts of aid to hurricane-ravaged islanders, accompanied by a convincing naval task force if necessary, in case anyone had any idea of stopping their aid convoy. I can easily imagine Maggie supervising the entire emergency aid operation and God help anyone who got in her way, including the OECD or even God himself!
Yet, Theresa May could have the best long-term plan of all — changing the OECD rules!
Hurricane Irma: UK seeks foreign aid overhaul to help British victims (Sky News)
In the long-term, Prime Minister Theresa May is right. Now is the time to fight the existing regulations because next week everyone will have forgotten about Irma and several destroyed Caribbean islands and will be talking about the Kardashians instead.
Theresa May will have a fight on her hands because, as anyone who has ever tried to get anything changed knows, change is almost impossible to accomplish.
This week, some attention-seeking British MP’s called her out for ‘grandstanding’ for seeking to change the obviously well-intentioned but misguided OECD regulations on allowing aid to wealthy or developed nations. Let’s hope that the Prime Minister succeeds at the OECD and that attention-seeking MP’s are put in their place.
But more than all of that, I hope PM Theresa May comes to the same conclusion as French President Macron and declares that the hurricane damaged islands will be rebuilt even better than before and able to withstand the forces of nature in the Caribbean’s hurricane alley.
In this situation, and in regards to other weather events, it’s blatantly obvious that the only structures undamaged by extreme weather are made from concrete.
Rather than rebuild wood frame houses and businesses every five or ten years, the obvious conclusion is to build them from concrete, only once!
By paying the cost of emergency aid now, and by covering the cost differential between new concrete structures and what building owners receive from their insurance company to rebuild their wood construction building, fewer lives will be lost to hurricanes, storm surges, tsunamis and earthquakes in the future, insurance rates won’t skyrocket every decade, and entire islands won’t need to be rebuilt only to be destroyed at the next major hurricane. And saving tens of millions of pounds sterling in future emergency aid funding in the process.