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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.

Why the UK Must Steer Brexit & Not be Steered

by John Brian Shannon

As the UK is a net contributor to the EU, there’s no incentive for European Parliament negotiators to want an early deal

However, yesterday Prime Minister Theresa May ‘called time’ on never-ending Brexit negotiations by informing the EU that October 29, 2018 is the last day to avert a WTO-style Brexit, commonly called a ‘No Deal’ Brexit

UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Image courtesy of Reuters

To understand why there is any debate at all about the UK leaving the European Union, one must understand that the United Kingdom contributes more to the EU than it receives. Over £8 billion (net) per year flows from the United Kingdom to the European Union and people are wondering why the EU Parliament is opposed to Brexit?

That’s a lot of money even by European standards, a continent of 504 million people.

£8 billion is the difference between a rich EU and a cash-starved EU that can’t afford all of its legitimate programmes and its excesses. To wit; The alcohol budget for the EU Parliament is in the tens of millions (euros) per year.

Yes, every government has a wine and spirits budget, but the EU Parliament alcohol budget is bigger than the next ten countries alcohol budgets combined. And it’s not just the alcohol budget that we’re talking about here.

The only country that contributes more to the EU budget is Germany — which pays even more than the UK! — and not a word of thanks to either Britain or Germany for subsidizing almost every policy and almost every country in the 28 member bloc.


Ready for some numbers?

Britain’s population is 65 million, so the net contribution of £8 billion works out to £123. per Briton, per year.

If you want to figure it by workers, who after all are the ones paying this bill, there are about 33 million workers in the UK, and 30 million of them are Britons.

So, let’s do the math; £8 billion, divided by 30 million, equals £266 per worker, per year. Over ten years, that’s £2660 per British-born worker.

What could that amount of money done for each British worker over the past decade? We’ll never know.


So far, so good?

Let’s look at the UK contribution over the past decade, which means we are simply multiplying those numbers by ten.

The net contribution of the United Kingdom over ten years is £80 billion.
Let’s see what the UK could’ve done with that money:

  • 26 Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, completely fitted-out. (or)
  • 100 more Wembley Stadiums. (or)
  • 146 state-of-the-art UK hospitals such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. (or)
  • 183 copies of The Shard, an iconic building in London. (or)
  • 2285 brand-new Academy schools, or 5333 brand-new state-run Secondary schools. (or)
  • Every UK high school graduate could receive a tuition-free PhD education and a new small car.

That’s just the past ten years…

What could be better than any one of those things? Is there anything better? Let us know in the comments section below!

Really, for all the (net) billions that go to the European Union courtesy of the British taxpayer what do Britons get in return?

Not one thing. Because it’s the net amount, not the gross amount. Which by definition means that Britons are getting nothing for that particular £8 billion (annual) or £80 billion (decade) net payment to the union. It’s the net amount. Get it?


Obviously, there’s nothing in Brexit for the EU

How could there be? It’s all in their favour.

Every year that the EU can stretch Brexit out is another £8 billion (net) for the European Union to fund its good and necessary budgets and their unconscionable, wasteful spending programmes. (Bad for Britain, but good for the EU!)

Only the most foolish and irresponsible British government would allow the EU to stretch this out for as long as possible (and who could blame the EU for doing so?) and that’s why Prime Minister Theresa May must be shown respect here.


In Theresa May’s UK, Britain is No Longer the EU’s Cash Cow

Love her or hate her, everyone knew that Margaret Thatcher truly loved Britain — and we’re starting to see a renewed and more confident Theresa May rising to meet the challenges of her time, as did Maggie in her era.

Theresa May has wisely informed the EU that there is a ‘Best Before’ date for Brexit negotiations and that October 29, 2018 is the absolute last date that the proposed 2-year implementation deal can be offered to the European Union.

In the absence of such a signed agreement Brexit negotiators will have no other option but to prepare for a full-blown WTO-based Brexit. (Which won’t be half as traumatic as it sounds as most of the world operates on WTO rules and have done so since 1995)

Therefore, smart EU negotiators will string it along for as long as they can as it’s (obviously) the logical way for their side to proceed. But now that the Prime Minister has provided a timeline to work toward, expect the 2-year implementation deal to be signed one day before the deadline, because that gets the European Union the most British taxpayer cash without actually missing the October 29, 2018 deadline.

Calling ‘time’ on the EU’s negotiating tactics (delay, obstruct, delay some more) is the single best, and strongest thing Theresa May has done since becoming Britain’s Prime Minister — and when combined with her Florence speech where she reached-out to EU leaders and to the European people as never before by a British PM — Mrs. May will earn and thereby guarantee her place in British history as the UK’s Brexit Prime Minister.

Well done on all counts, Theresa!


Related Articles:

  • My mission is a two-year bridge to a final Brexit deal, Theresa May tells MPs (The Times)
  • Brexit divorce lawyers eye up EU’s wine list (Financial Times)