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The UK is Again a Independent Nation, So Stay Out of Our Internal Politics!

by John Brian Shannon

It didn’t take even one full day(!) following the official Brexit date before EU politicians and former EC politicians began sticking their feet in their mouths by commenting on the internal politics of an independent nation called the United Kingdom — and this is in regards to the Scottish politician Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) who wants to separate Scotland from the UK (which, such referenda have never succeeded in the over 200-years that Scotland has been a member of the United Kingdom) and such referenda will never succeed it seems — if the people of Scotland continue to get their way on the matter.

Because every time there’s been a democratically held Scottish referendum it’s failed miserably thanks to Scot voters — and that, after much gamesmanship by those pushing their separatist garbage.

Yet, these are the same people who demand the utmost respect for the European Union project throughout the global body politic and among the world’s media.

Their gall is quite astonishing!

Imagine what the EU response would be if America, China, India or Japan began opining on some of the internal affairs of the European Union, let alone if a number of senior politicians in those countries were engaged in trying to break-up the European Union!


(EU) People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn’t be Throwing Stones

We have the situation in Catalonia where the leaders of that longstanding autonomous region who represent over half of the population there, were jailed or forced to flee to Germany after the Spanish government used police and security forces to brutally put down the peaceful and popular movement in Catalonia to become a fully autonomous state within Europe — a movement which was massively approved by Catalonian voters in a democratically held referendum overseen by official election monitors from around the world and the EU.

If heads of state of EU countries, former EC presidents, and presently serving MEP’s in the EU Parliament are going to comment on the internal affairs of the United Kingdom (which is now, again, an independent country) then, it seems fair game that the UK government and media, and indeed all governments and world media, should feel free to report on everything that’s occurred in Catalonia since 1962. And that’s a very big story which has yet to see the light of day.

But it would make a fascinating documentary series showing how continental Europe supports freedom and democracy and a people’s right to self-determination in every continent — except on the EU continent!

Ouch! It must hurt when people catch you out like that, doesn’t it? And there’s more…


Should the UK and Other Countries Accept Today’s Implied Invitation by (former EC president) Donald Tusk, (Irish Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar, (EU MEP) Guy Verhofstadt and other EU politicians, to Engage in Some Reciprocity by Fanning the Flames of Separatist Movements Within the EU?

For many decades, Basque separatists have been waging a campaign against both Spain and France as the Basque people apparently want their own country within Europe and (unfortunately and reportedly) may have resorted to terrorist actions (at least, that’s what the media has reported, but to travel there, you’d never know it as it’s a very restful and peaceful part of the world) and again, brutal police and paramilitary clampdowns became the norm in the Basque region going all the way back to WWII.

Similarly, in Greece, where several sides within Europe attempted to ‘own’ Greece via economic and other means over the past 25-years (by lending the Greek government far more money than they could ever repay, for one example) and only the united power of economist and former Greek Minister of Finance, Ioannis “Yanis” Varoufakis and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were able to (mostly) counter the silent takeover of Greece by certain EU political parties, institutions, financiers, etc., — official and otherwise.

We could also discuss the situation in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been waging a lonely battle against the EU autocracy since 2010 to maintain reasonable levels of immigration into his country and to retain Hungarian sovereignty vis-à-vis the overarching EU culture that wants to subsume the will of individual countries (especially small member countries) in favour of the EU’s better way — the “just eat it, it’s good for you!” mentality of dealing with member states.

And in France, millions of people have donned yellow vests (the so-called “yellow vest movement”) to protest high levels of taxation, which taxation is seen not only as punitive, but also (reportedly) targets groups, unions, certain segments of the French economy, and even individuals who aren’t toeing the government line.

There’s also the EU budget allotment procedure that rewards member governments that are compliant with EU diktats with generous funding and punishes those EU member nations that try to maintain control over key areas of their own economies as guaranteed by EU treaty.

It seems the EU people are the sweetest people in the world — but only when they’re getting their own way.

And that isn’t a way forward in the 21st-century, folks. That won’t fly. The entire world will join forces to stop you from again turning into the world’s bully (and that would be the 3rd-time we’d need to stop you from yourselves) within a 107-year timespan.

It’s time to grow-up kids and accept that life is a series of compromises and that you don’t always get your way.


It’s Astonishing that the Two Jurisdictions that Benefit the Most from the UK… Want to Sabotage that Relationship!

The Republic of Ireland economy would go into complete meltdown should the UK cease trading with it, as almost half its output is purchased by UK consumers. And it’s not like the EU is interested in buying Ireland’s goods, or they’d be buying it already! (Duh!)

Likewise with Scotland. Some 4/5ths of Scotland’s trade is courtesy of the UK, and English taxpayers have subsidized Scotland’s economy with many billions of pounds sterling (that’s English taxpayer money!) since 1800.


Are These People Monsters Or Do They Simply Not Get It?

What kind of people would kick English taxpayers in the teeth by trying to break-up the United Kingdom, just so they can score some cheap political points and not feel quite as embarrassed about the UK’s departure from the European Union?

Really, these people are a threat to their own economies specifically, and to stability in the Western Hemisphere, generally.

Maybe have a word with them at the next election (Irish and Scottish voters) because if you re-elect them you’re practically guaranteeing that trade with England will be cut off forever and your passports will never again be valid in God’s country — the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

But if that’s what you want… Good Riddance!

We’ll save the billions we spend to subsidize you and purchase from America and the Commonwealth, instead of from (the then) bankrupt Republic of Ireland, and instead of from (the then) bankrupt Scotland.

With ‘friends’ like you, who needs enemies?


EU politicians want to be respected, but don't respect the UK, which bodes poorly for trade between Ireland and the UK.

Scotland’s SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon must be the funniest person on Earth — because 4/5ths of Scotland’s trade comes courtesy of the United Kingdom — and British taxpayers subsidize the Scottish economy with billions of pounds sterling every year — and she wants to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom! Yet every time Scotland has a (supposedly, once-in-a-lifetime) referendum on Scottish independence from the UK, Scottish residents vote against her Monty Python-esque plan. Check yer meds, woman, or we’ll nominate you to lead The Ministry of Funny Talks! Image courtesy of BBC.com

A New Hope: The Brexit Deal Worth Ratifying

by John Brian Shannon

Well, that didn’t take long!

Boris Johnson has been UK Prime Minister for 85-days and suddenly the UK and the EU seem to be getting along better, and a new and apparently worthwhile Brexit deal is agreed between the parties.

Of course, there’s no pleasing every side. Such agreements are enormously complex and there will always be concerns and doubts in various quarters.

The ‘devil is in the details’ as they say. But with sufficient goodwill on both sides, the UK and the EU are from this moment onward, moving forward on a better and more holistic path.


Quotes from the Brussels Summit as the New Brexit Deal was Announced

  • EC President Donald Tusk: “A deal is always preferable to No Deal.”
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “the UK and EU have agreed a great new deal” and “the UK is leaving the EU as one United Kingdom.”
  • Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal is “fair and balanced” and that, “there is no need for a further extension.”
  • And the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier said, “the new deal should provide legal certainty in every area.”
  • The DUP’s Arlene Foster said her party “cannot support the deal” although DUP support is crucial to passing this deal in Parliament. Interesting times, indeed.

Finally a Deal Worth Signing!

This isn’t Theresa May’s Brexit deal warmed-over. The Northern Ireland backstop for example, isn’t part of this agreement.

Also, Northern Ireland remains within the UK and in the UK Customs Union.

However, unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland remains within the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market which is ultra-important for the Northern Ireland economy and is much more convenient for the Republic of Ireland — thereby negating any need for a hard border between the two Irelands.

Further, Northern Ireland’s seat of government (Stormont) has the opportunity to opt out of this arrangement every four years.

As regards the rest of the deal, the new agreement allows the entire UK to leave the EU (at the end of 2020) as one United Kingdom (the same way it joined). And the leisurely schedule allows UK and EU businesses sufficient time to make preparations for a new regulatory environment beginning January 1, 2021.

All-in-all, quite impressive.

I must reiterate that no one side was ever going to get everything they wanted out of a Brexit Deal, but that really isn’t the point.

What is the point is that the present era of economic uncertainty is ending. And that’s good for the UK, good for the EU, and it’s an agreement that’s respectful of Northern Ireland’s unique position in all of this.

A hearty, Well Done! to leaders and negotiators on all sides of the Brexit paradox.

Article 50 Invoked: Time to Make a List!

by John Brian Shannon

With Article 50 invoked, plans for successful Brexit negotiations that lead to successful outcomes for both parties are imperative

Now that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has officially triggered Brexit by notifying the European Commission President Donald Tusk of Britain’s intention to leave the European Union, it’s time to make a list.

So, what should be the nature of that list?

As any self-respecting diplomat knows, it should be a list of the Top Ten items most likely to be agreed. This is a tried and true tenet of diplomacy where diplomats set up a success-based paradigm for their negotiators to increase the opportunities for successful outcomes via the negotiation process.


We all know when things begin well they have a much better chance of ending well. Conversely, if things begin badly they tend to get worse over time and end in disaster. It’s a simple human nature equation.

It’s not true in all cases, but when negotiations begin with goodwill on both sides and work from a list of negotiating points, negotiators craft success after success, leading to a conclusion everyone can live with (and yes!) celebrate.


Listen to the Voice of Experience Upon Whose Shoulders We Stand

Experienced diplomats like Henry Kissinger and Andrei Gromyko would never have considered entering negotiations without a plan for success, nor a plan that didn’t feature a Top Ten (or Top Six, etc) list of items to be discussed and solved, in order to set up a successful track record to enhance future negotiations.

It directs negotiations toward intellectual honesty — because it instantly proves whether goodwill exists, or whether the person on the other side of the table appears there under duress or to bamboozle the other party. Neither of which will result in anything good.

  • Choosing the items to be negotiated by whim of individual government ministers (because each minister quite rightly represents their own constituents, and consequently see the negotiations only through the prism of their local agenda) is probably the worst way to enter negotiations.
  • Another contender for the worst way to enter negotiations is for the media and/or the court of public opinion to be the de facto deciders of the topics to be negotiated, for the media loves a good story (who doesn’t!) and fireworks between politicians sell a lot of newspapers. One can’t blame the media, in fact, more power to them! But negotiations led by the media acting in its own best interest will always result in the worst possible outcomes.

The only way to ‘win’ is via ‘Win-Win’

The wisest course of action for Theresa May and Donald Tusk is to sketch-out a list of items at which negotiators could succeed early, thereby giving the negotiations some much-needed early momentum. It’s important to announce those successes so that credibility is enhanced for both sides and it’s likewise important to share the accolades with negotiators.

In the absence of success stories, the media default mode is to declare the negotiations ‘a disaster’ and both leaders will be pilloried out of politics. And that’s as it should be.

It’s unimportant which matters are up for discussion first, what is important is that negotiators succeed early and often. Any success, whether large or small drives the media narrative and the international consciousness.

Gibraltar, that status of EU citizens in the UK, territorial fishing rights, a so-called ‘divorce’ bill, the colour of passports, etc. are all bandied about by the media (and that’s great, they do a great job of informing the public) but which of these should be placed or not placed on the initial Top Ten list for the earliest and best success?

Only the two governments know the answers to that question.

Or, maybe they don’t. And if they don’t, there is no better day than today to place a phone call to the other leader in order to ask; ‘What points could we find early agreement on?’ Which is a wonderful way to begin any day.

I respectfully urge UK Prime Minister Theresa May and EC President Donald Tusk to ask the other; What points could we find early agreement on?

In that way, instead of the narrative defaulting to what sells newspapers, the narrative will be controlled by the leadership. That’s Leadership with a capital ‘L’ please.

Leadership, respect for the other and working towards a track record of success is the way to Build a Better Britain and the way to create a more united European Union! Anything less, is unworthy of these two great statespersons.