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Will 2020 Be the Year that Britain Shines?

by John Brian Shannon

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

UK Election 2019: The People Have Spoken & Brexit It Will Be!

by John Brian Shannon

It was an historic night in the UK where a formerly weak Conservative government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson swept to power in a massive majority.

Every party in the United Kingdom has lost ground to the Conservatives — except for the Scottish National Party (SNP) which won 48-seats giving them a grand total of 4% of the UK vote — but that pales in comparison to Boris Johnson’s Conservative and Unionist Party’s 45% of the votes cast in the UK Election 2019. The Brexit Party (a brand-new party only weeks old) gained 2% of the vote, but didn’t win any seats.

Here are the percentage of votes cast in the UK General Election 2019

Conservatives = 45%
Labour = 33%
Liberal Democrats = 12%
SNP = 4%
Green = 3%
Brexit = 2%
Other = 1%

Which translates into this many seats by party affiliation

Conservatives = 365
Labour = 203
SNP = 48
Liberal Democrats = 11
DUP = 8
Sinn Fein = 7
Plaid Cymru = 4
SDLP = 2
APNI = 1
Green = 1
Brexit = 0
UUP = 0
IND = 0


Winners and Losers in the UK General Election 2019

WINNERS

UK VOTERS: The biggest winners in this election are UK voters, as every person who wanted to vote was able to vote, unlike in some countries where armed thugs try to prevent people from voting unless they’re voting for the ‘approved’ thug party. Further, a situation no longer exists where a paralyzed UK House of Commons is unable to do the work of the UK people. Following this clear election result, the UK government can now move smartly to get The People’s business done. And Number One on that list is Brexit.

LOSERS

REMAIN VOTERS: The biggest losers in UK General Election 2019 are so-called ‘Remain’ voters — those who wanted to ignore or overturn the democratic result of the 2016 EU referendum. The UK people spoke clearly in the 2016 referendum, in the UK General Election 2017, and now in the UK General Election 2019, with thousands of traditional Labour, Liberal Democrat and even SNP voters changing their traditional voting patterns (this time) to empower the leave-supporting Conservative and Unionist Party, and some people casting votes for the new-ish Brexit Party to reward their ongoing commitment for leaving the European Union.

WINNERS

THE BREXIT PARTY: Brexit Party members and their leaders should be leaping for joy, because, although they didn’t elect one MP to the UK House of Commons, they’ve dramatically changed the political landscape in the United Kingdom by capturing hundreds of thousands of votes from traditional Labour voters who disagreed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Remain Brexit position, and from other Remain-supporting parties across the UK. Strange as it may seem, the Brexit Party like the UKIP Party before it have influenced the UK and continental Europe for generations to come. I’m not sure that Brexit Party candidates and supporters have realized this profound point just yet… But in the meantime, ‘Hats Off’ to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party!

LOSERS

FORMER LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER JO SWINSON: Jo Swinson lost her Dumbarton seat and (thereby) her position as Lib Dem leader — and for no other reason than she cut across the popular mood of the country which was and still is to leave the EU. A polished, responsible, and committed member of Parliament, her defeat can only be seen as a loss for the Lib Dems and the House of Commons in general. But when you’re the leader of a major political party, you must be able to read the mood of the people in a democratic system, otherwise you’re soon gone.

WINNERS

THE EU: Because for the first time, the European Union now has a reliable partner across the English Channel with which to negotiate Brexit and a follow-on trade deal with the UK. Unfortunately, in the former ‘hung parliament’ situation it was very much a case of ‘mixed-messages’ coming from the UK House of Commons over the past 3-years.

LOSERS

THE UK LABOUR PARTY: As votes are still being counted, it looks like the Labour Party has lost 59-seats, but only because they supported ‘Remain’ instead of properly reading the mood of voters (who, with increasing resolve week-by-week) wanted to ‘just get Brexit done’ and get-on with whatever paradigm that will exist post-Brexit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a principled, hard-working, and committed MP and the long-serving leader of HM official opposition. Again, being able to read the mood of the public and represent their preferences is a prerequisite for the leader of a major political party. Having retained his own seat, I hope Mr. Corbyn will continue as leader of the Labour Party until an appropriate time can be found for a proper leadership contest within the Labour Party.

WINNERS

EACH MP WHO WON A SEAT IN THE UK GENERAL ELECTION 2019: Congratulations to each and every MP who won or retained their seat in the UK House of Commons. These are the people who will act on the valid and important concerns of UK citizens, such as Brexit, the NHS, the environment, industry, social care, transportation and international trade. And so much more.

Finally, a big Thank You! to the UK journalists who stayed-up all night to cover the most important UK election in decades, doing so with style, grace, and neutrality. Well Done!

Getting Brexit Done Will Allow the UK to Get onto ‘the Good Stuff’

by John Brian Shannon

‘What Could be Better than Brexit?’ You Ask

Once Brexit is completed, the UK will be perfectly positioned to sign free trade deals with every country in the world. Indeed, some countries are eagerly anticipating signing free trade agreements with the United Kingdom post-Brexit.

Here in Canada, free trade with Britain is viewed as nothing more than the natural and obvious progression in our centuries-old relationship, and Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and India see free trade with the UK as a true Win-Win situation where all sides benefit from membership in that free trading relationship.

But in the UK for some inexplicable reason, free trade with Commonwealth nations is seen as a long-shot, something Britons would like to have but feel is almost impossible, and some seem to think the UK is ‘unworthy’ of such treatment by other Commonwealth countries and their 2.3 billion citizens.

‘The British really need to get out more, and see the world for what it is instead of seeing it through the prism of an imperial guilt trip’ seems to be the prevailing wisdom in the former colonies.

Get out there, UK! And, welcome to the 21st-century. We need to trade with you.


The Post-Brexit Domestic Agenda

Once freedom is established across the land, the UK government can rightly turn its attention to how citizens are faring. Spending on the NHS, education, housing, the manufacturing sector, agriculture and transportation networks can be improved from the present (underfunded) model.

How? Easy!

Presently, UK taxpayers dutifully send their money off to the government, which then sends a substantial portion of it on to Brussels. And every month, UK taxpayers send £1 billion more than they receive back from the EU. Which, as you’ve guessed, means that UK taxpayers send £12 billion more annually to the EU than they receive in return.

With an extra £12 billion a year to spend on the NHS post-Brexit — that’s £230 million a week — the NHS would eventually recover from being cash-starved since 2010 or thereabout.

But if the government elected to spend that £12 billion per year on education — British students would be in for a world-class education where no student gets left behind and every one of them would receive a tuition-free PhD-level education or tuition-free trade-certificate education — just as many European and some South American countries already offer. What a great leg-up for the country! Every British student turns into a highly-educated intellectual or tradesperson with the relevant documentation to prove their dedication to their profession or trade.

Or, if the government decided to solve the UK housing crisis by building tens-of-thousands of low-income homes for Britons. Which (housing crisis) is in the process of being solved anyway, as thousands of EU citizens return to the continent prior to the final Brexit date — thereby freeing-up housing in the UK market — whether rental or purchased.


And similar applies to other sectors of the UK economy. Once Brexit finally happens, the UK will have an extra £12 billion to spend annually. How the UK government chooses to spend it, is down to the priorities of the post-election government.

One thing is for certain, leaving the EU will allow an extra £12 billion to be spent every year in the UK economy. Which means that ONE major problem can be solved per year (NHS, education, housing, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation networks, high taxation) but not ALL major problems at once!


The Piecemeal Approach is the Wrong Approach!

To my mind, dropping a few billion here and there throughout the economy in an attempt to please everyone… definitely ISN’T the way to proceed.

With an extra £12 billion, the next government should decide which problem to solve in year-1 (£12 billion) then, in year-2, another major problem can be nailed-down to a satisfying conclusion (the second £12 billion spend), and in the 3rd-year something else can be solved once and for all time with the third £12 billion spend.

Typically, democratic governments seek to please the largest number of voters by dispersing such economic windfalls (a £12 billion annual windfall in this case) relatively evenly throughout the economy. But in the UK, each major problem in the country could be permanently solved via a single-year £12 billion spend in each problem area.

And that should galvanize British minds into prioritizing the next 5-year spending round.


How Would YOU Spend It?

Maybe you’re an overworked healthcare worker. We know how you’d spend the money. And we don’t blame you. Thank you again! for all the great work you do saving lives and dramatically improving the lives of the sick and elderly with your fulsome commitment. We salute you!

Or, maybe you’re a social worker who sees lives being wasted because there aren’t enough entry-level jobs, or safe housing, or supports in place to help the young, the elderly, the infirm, or the marginalized, to help them progress out of their poverty-based existence. In such cases, even relatively small amounts of money can make a huge difference in their lives — lifting them out of poverty and into work in a matter of weeks.

Every country needs more taxpayers and lifting people from UC to employment results in a double benefit for the economy — instead of the government paying such people to basically stay alive until they’re needed in the workforce, those people will then begin to pay into the tax revenue stream. Entire towns and boroughs could be revolutionized by the addition of a relatively inexpensive 1-year spending programme to the mix.


Brexit Can Work for Farmers!

Maybe you’re a farmer/rancher worrying about your EU subsidies going away. (And they will) Of course it would be great if the UK government decided to pay you the same subsidies that you enjoyed when the UK was a member of the EU.

But even better solutions await.

Why grow a crop that doesn’t earn any money? Why continue to stay in the dairy business competing with the heavily-subsidized EU, U.S., and Canadian dairy industries? Maybe it’s time to switch gears and raise animals or grow crops that don’t need subsidies.

Or, maybe it’s time for you to rent your land to the utility companies for the installation of wind turbines for £4000. per year/per turbine? In that way, you’re earning income instead of waiting for government subsidies to suddenly fall, as we’ve seen over the decades.

In the case of wind turbine installations, most of your land remains available to you, it’s just that you lose the footprint of the turbine tower and the utility company needs a gravel access laneway to each turbine which translates to an average loss of 1-acre of land per turbine for the farmer.

Some land is too rocky to grow crops/graze cattle anyway, so that isn’t much of a loss in some cases. Certainly, receiving £4000. per year/per acre from a utility company in land lease fees beats all the work that goes into growing crops, only to gain £800. to £1200. per acre annually! And, as for grazing cattle or sheep on marginal land, an acre of that land might only be worth £60. to £100. annually to your farm. Or less.

Yes, you can tell that I love farmers and ranchers because I’ve devoted all this space to them. But it illustrates how Britons and the government need to think differently in the post-Brexit world.

Instead of competing against highly-subsidized countries (and bigger countries will always win as they have more taxpayers to pay those high subsidies) it’s time to change gears and switch towards a more sustainable and more profitable economic model.

Grow those high-demand/no-subsidy crops! Raise those animals that don’t require subsidies! Rent your less-productive farmland to utility companies for more profitable wind turbine or solar panel installations — where your profits aren’t decided in a closed-door backroom in the EU, America, or Canada.


Britons: Compete on Your Strengths, Not on Your Weaknesses!

In short, dear Britons, compete on your strengths and cease competing on your weaknesses against much larger and more highly-subsidized blocs. The degree to which you can succeed in that is the degree to which you, your family, and the UK itself, will prosper.

And in case I didn’t make it clear enough, above;

In a post-Brexit UK economy, innovation ruled by merit-based thinking is the best way for individual Britons, British families, and the UK to succeed.