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Brexit: Well, That Only Took 1317 Days!

by John Brian Shannon

 

After a gestation period that would’ve impressed a Brontosaurus (44-months, or 188-weeks if you prefer to measure time by the week, or 1317-days, or 31,608-hours) the UK government finally kept its promise to Britons who voted for Brexit on June 23, 2016.

So, after bobbling the ball for 3.5-years, the UK government finally got it right (Thanks, Boris!) and at 11:00pm GMT on January 31, 2020, the UK left the European Union. And not a moment too soon, as if the dithering on the UK side had continued much longer the UK would’ve been thrown out of the EU  — instead of leaving of its own accord! Yes, the frustration with successive UK governments grew to record highs over the past 3.5-years…

Anyway, that was then, and this is now, as they say.


What Next for the UK?

According to the terms of the Brexit agreement with the EU, the parties have 11-months to agree a trade deal to govern the future trading relationship, unless the parties decide to extend the trade deal negotiating period for another year, or longer.

I feel positive about getting a trade deal with the EU as it’s so obviously in the interests of both parties to arrange a fair-to-both-sides trade agreement, that there will be a signing ceremony before the end of 2020. Let’s hope!

Of course, the EU isn’t the UK’s only trading partner, so a trade deal with the Americans is important for the UK, And that too, must be concluded in a reasonable timeframe if the UK is to capitalize on its economic prospects following its departure from the European Union.

Let’s hope that Boris Johnson’s team sees the value of signing onto the CPTPP agreement — to become a member of the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership agreement — which is a huge trading region headed by Japan as the leading economy in the bloc.

Subsequent deals with Commonwealth of Nations countries — I’m hoping for a massive agreement between all Commonwealth nations, on par with the excellent CPTPP trade agreement. And, why not? The UK has ignored the Commonwealth for far too long now and huge opportunities await UK companies within that 2.5 billion member bloc (2.5 billion citizens/consumers in the Commonwealth of Nations countries by 2022) and further, the economy of that bloc consists of rapidly developing economies whose citizens are now beginning to enjoy real growth in their disposable income. Disposable income that could be used to purchase UK goods and services if you take my meaning.

Yes, huge trade opportunities await the UK, and not a moment to lose going after it. Because if the UK doesn’t go after that business, some other country or bloc will snap-up all of it and could completely displace UK trade in each country. That’s the punishment for taking too long to agree a trade deal.

Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her government found out what happens when it takes too long to accomplish something really important to the UK people, and those excessive delays are the only reason that Boris Johnson is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. So… fast, fast, Boris, on the trade file!

And thanks for getting Brexit done.


Putting the UK – EU Relationship in Context

All in all, the UK – European relationship has been a good one when measured over the past 107-years.

In that time, the UK fought to bring peace to the continent in WWI and WWII, it was a solid contributor to the NATO alliance during the Cold War, the UK participated in operations like the Berlin Airlift, the fall of the Wall/reunification of Germany, and in missions in the Balkans to try to prevent genocide and enforce International Court of Justice rulings against non-state actors there, and it invested trillions of pounds sterling in the continent in the 20th-century.

The UK helped to bring peace and prosperity to Europe and was an early supporter of a unified Europe from the time of former UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill — although Winston often said that the UK did not belong “in” continental Europe, but rather, that it should support a unified continent from “outside” continental politics.

Having played a pivotal role in the creation of a peaceful and prosperous European continent, the UK can now leave with its head held high, having accomplished all of its long-term objectives there, knowing that the ongoing peace and prosperity on the continent will continue for decades to come, due in part to the UK’s huge commitment to continental Europe since 1913, or thereabout.

Although the Brexit process might have frazzled nerves on both sides, there’s no doubt that the United Kingdom and the European Union will continue to be allies sharing a similar worldview and will continue trading with each other on an epic scale. While some tears have been shed over Brexit, the special relationship with our continental friends will endure for centuries to come, of that there’s no doubt.

Now, let’s make it easy on ourselves and quickly agree a fair and comprehensive trade agreement, so that both parties can continue to build on the successes of the previous century — as befits true neighbours, friends, families, and allies — thereby setting the bar for how countries can and should work together to create a better world.

And I wouldn’t expect anything less from Prime Minister Boris Johnson or from EU President Ursula von der Layen. In fact, we’ve only just begun!


Thumbnail image courtesy of www.ft.com

EU Offers a ‘Flextension’ to the UK & Parliament Voted Down a UK General Election

by John Brian Shannon

1,222 days since the 2016 Brexit referendum and we’re no closer to Brexit, yet the EU has graciously granted another Article 50 extension, but this time it’s a unique type of extension coined by EC President Donald Tusk, called ‘Flextension’.

It’s unique because it grants the UK Parliament more time to get its house in order, and allows the official Brexit date to fall on any day the UK Parliament chooses between October 31, 2019 and January 31, 2020.

Which is pretty awesome of European Commission president Donald Tusk, extremely generous of European Union president Jean-Claude Juncker, and it demonstrates patience personified by the leaders of the EU27 countries.

Who’d have thought that a staunch Brexiteer like myself would feel such gratitude for the generosity and patience shown to the dysfunctional UK House of Commons by EC/EU/EU27 leaders?

Really folks, we should thank them sincerely — for the problems related to Brexit aren’t on the EU side as they’ve consistently delivered one message with one tone and one conclusion, while UK politicians have been all over the map. And if they aren’t squabbling with the EU they’re squabbling among each other, to the end that Brexit is no further along today than it was back on June 23, 2016 when Britons voted to leave the EU.

The present House of Commons couldn’t agree that water is wet or that the sky is blue. How EU heads have put up with all the mixed messaging coming from the UK side over the past 40.5 months (1,222 days) since the June 23, 2016 EU referendum is beyond comprehension.

(UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is new on the job having served a grand total of 96-days at this point, so we can hardly put the blame on him)

All in all, the EU side has shown class and consistency throughout the entire Brexit saga.

Although I have disagreed with some of their ideas or bargaining positions relating to Brexit etc., (and hey, they’re in business for the EU, not for me) they’ve demonstrated they’re a world-class operation and deserve that recognition.

That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for your time!


If you want to verify today’s Brexit news, please read these two short BBC articles:

  • Brexit: Johnson agrees to Brexit extension – but urges election (BBC)
  • Brexit dance goes on as EU approves new extension for UK (BBC’s Katya Adler)

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way! Brexit 2.0 is Eleven Days Away

by John Brian Shannon

I have a question:

Why did almost one-million people protest in London on Saturday?

Apparently, almost one-million people turned-up to protest Boris Johnson’s Brexit 2.0 deal which was scheduled to be passed later in the day in the UK House of Commons.

But because it’s unwise to anger one-million protesters milling about on London’s streets… the vote was postponed until Monday, October 20th. Smart thinking!

Can you imagine the security nightmare and the damage to shops, double-decker buses, personal vehicles, and (possibly) to life and limb had the vote gone ahead and be approved with one-million hostile protesters waiting just outside the House of Commons?

A million revellers could cause a lot of damage — and played across the world’s TV screens, the entire scene would’ve made the UK look like a country that hadn’t yet come of age and still didn’t understand how democracy works.

I noticed some UK news outlets were trying to play-down the number of protesters, with some saying “thousands” or “tens of thousands”. But why do that? We all know that 16-million people voted against leaving the EU in 2016, and it’s probably safe to assume that 1/16th of them are still unhappy about the outcome of the EU referendum.

That’s how democracy works: Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.

But the time to expend all your effort to get the result you want, kids, is in the run-up to a vote, not after the fact.

And let’s face it, in a country of 66-million people you could raise one-million protesters against Vegemite-on-toast if you were as well-financed as that particular Remainer cohort.

I can hear the shouts rising to a crescendo: “Taxi Drivers Against Vegemite!” and chants of, “Vegemite, OK!… Toast, OK!… But No Vegemite On Toast!… HEY! HEY!”


I have a message for yesterday’s anti-Brexit protestors:

Are you aware that on June 23, 2016 Britons voted to leave the EU (the 1st ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit) and that British MP’s voted 498-114 to leave the EU on February 1, 2017, and that on June 8, 2018 Theresa May won a General Election a.k.a. the 2nd ‘People’s Vote’ (as a General Election is the purest form of a ‘People’s Vote’) an election in which all parties campaigned on a promise to deliver Brexit?

And, are you aware that the EU’s own Jean-Claude Juncker, the EC’s Donald Tusk, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, and every single head of government in the EU27 have agreed that the new Brexit deal proposed by PM Boris Johnson (Brexit 2.0) is the best way forward for the EU27?

If you think you’re working for the European Union when you’re protesting against Brexit 2.0, you’re not. EU leaders have accepted this deal. And they wouldn’t have accepted it… if it didn’t work for their EU27.

If you think you’re working for the UK, you’re not. A majority of Britons still want Brexit to happen according to recent polls.

If you think you’re working for democracy, you’re not. How can you be working for democracy when you’re seeking to overturn the democratic choice of The People?

You need to stop and think; Why are you trying to overthrow something that a majority of Britons voted for, what the UK government itself proposed to the EU, and what the EU/EC accepted as the best way forward?

So, who or what are you working for?

My guess is that 1/3rd of you are professional (paid) protestors who travel all over Europe protesting anything that pays your travel expenses (How do I know that? Because I see the same faces protesting in Paris, Berlin, London, and Dublin, and not just on the topic of Brexit!) another 1/3rd of you are associated with a UK political party that once voted for Brexit but since it now looks like it might actually happen they don’t want any part of it, and the last 1/3rd of you are simply poor losers since the 2016 referendum.

To the first-third I say: Enjoy!
To the middle-third I say: Support democracy instead!
To the final-third I say: Grow Up!

By the way, I strongly support your right to peaceful democratic protest. That’s not the issue here. Brexiteers are trying to understand you!


If I’m wrong and it’s simply a generational thing, then, please consider this line of thought:

The older generations built the country you now live in.

They did it with blood (wars) sweat (labour) and tears (several recessions) and they did it (mostly) without cars, air conditioning, computers, the internet, TV’s, the Chunnel, scheduled airline service, or hundreds of other things that we all take for granted these days.

Since the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht when the UK illegally joined the EU in 1993 (according to the UK constitution it is illegal to hand any amount of UK sovereignty over to any foreign power) Britons weren’t given a vote on EU membership.

And the first time that they did get a vote on EU membership, they voted to leave — mind you, that opportunity took 23-years to arrive! Which is hardly democratic.

If you study demographics or are equipped to do a Google search, you can see yourself that approximately 500,000 Britons die every year (mostly from old age) so you can extrapolate for yourself how many older people have died since the UK joined the EU. (500,000 per year x 23 years = 11,500,000 UK deaths since joining the EU)

Therefore, eleven million Britons died waiting for the chance to vote on whether they wanted to join the EU, or not. But nobody asked.

Surely most of them would’ve voted against EU membership as it contravened the UK constitution, nor did they want to be ruled from a continent that caused two world wars, and later, the Cold War (a consequence of WWII) which was also costly for UK taxpayers in blood and treasure.

In fact, all they ever wanted to do was to recover from war, from postwar poverty, and rebuild their broken lives and broken country.

Everything you see in the UK was built by them. Every road you drive on, every bridge you drive over, every airport you fly out of to Spain or Malta for your annual holidaymaking, and every major building in the country. And so much more.

So, who are you, who’ve yet to accomplish anything like that, to try to take away from what’s left of them and their families, the opportunity to have a real vote for or against membership in a foreign political bloc?

And while I agree that it was a fine thing for the UK to join the EEC in 1973 (the EEC was a trading union, not a political union like the EU) it’s even better from a democratic perspective that Britons were able to vote on EEC membership within 3-years of joining.

Nothing wrong with trying it out for a couple of years so that Britons could see if it was a good or bad thing for them! In 1975, UK citizens voted enthusiastically to join the EEC and it did a world of good for both the UK and continental Europe.

In any event, Britons voted to leave the EU in 2016, the UK Parliament voted to leave the EU in 2017, and the UK held a General Election where all parties ran on a platform to deliver Brexit (and a pro-Brexit party did win on June 8, 2018) and EU and EC leaders have approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit 2.0 deal, and now a relatively small number of British MP’s suddenly have ‘cold feet’ after campaigning for Brexit in 2016, 2017 and in 2018.

So, again, who are you… to try to overthrow the will of the UK people as expressed in 2016, the will of Parliament which voted for the European Union bill in 2017, the will of the present UK government which won an election in 2018 based on their promise to deliver Brexit, the will of the EU leaders and negotiators, and the will of the leaders of the EU27 countries?

Who are you? And why do you hate democracy?

Please tell us in the comments below — we’re genuinely interested to know.

As always, abusive comments won’t be published.