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It’s Not You Theresa May… It’s Your Brexit Deal!

by John Brian Shannon

Very Important People said it would never happen.

They said it would be impossible for Britain’s 1922 Committee to gather enough votes to call for a leadership contest in the Conservative Party. They laughed, they wrote Op/Eds mocking the UK Conservatives, and they called the European Research Group (ERG) a paper tiger — because word on the street was — they couldn’t muster enough votes to challenge Theresa May’s premiership.

Yet, within one week of Theresa May bringing home a substandard draft Withdrawal Agreement, the ERG and its friends gathered enough votes to call for a leadership review and they made it look easy. Well done!

Tonight, between the hours of 6:00pm and 8:00pm London time, Theresa May will be reapplying for her job, and if she loses, she will remain Prime Minister until the Conservative Party chooses a new leader. If she wins, the Conservative Party won’t be able to contest her leadership for 12-months no matter what good or bad she does during those 12-months.

So it all comes down to this;

Do you trust Theresa May with the reins of power for the next 12-months leaving the Conservative Party as mere passengers (accomplices?) in the Brexit bus that Theresa May is driving?


Theresa May Has Nobody to Blame but Herself

It’s the Prime Minister who has created this situation. When you’re driving the car and you don’t like where you’ve ended-up, it’s 100% your fault.

Theresa May lollygagged her way through the first 2-years of her premiership, and then suddenly returned from Brussels 2-weeks ago with the ol’ hurry up and sign this draft Withdrawal Agreement before-the-ink-is-dry gambit.

Which seemed a bit off to say the least. Uh, can we read it first, or do we have to vote on it… unread? British MP’s seemed taken-aback by this approach and it took a few days for them to respond. And respond they have!

The Prime Minister is going to hear loud and clear from her party tonight, and by the end of it she may be a lame-duck Prime Minister or she’ll win them over and be free of leadership contests for the next year.

Either way, it’s on her.


It’s Not Her Leadership – It’s the Substandard Draft Withdrawal Agreement

Theresa May has said all along that she wanted a real Brexit and made sweeping statements like, “Brexit means Brexit” and “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal” and “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and other, similar, strong statements which the UK public and media ate-up like chocolate. Oh, how we loved her!

But now that it’s time to deliver, the Prime Minister has fudged on one crucial part of Brexit and it’s arguably the most important part of all — the sudden appearance of a Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ — which could prevent the UK from ever arranging its own trade deals in the post-Brexit timeframe.

You can check for yourself, the words “Northern Ireland backstop” never appeared in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. And, as there wasn’t any other UK referendum on EU membership since the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1993, that term never appeared anywhere else either.

It’s something that Brussels and Theresa May have dreamt-up because they weren’t committed enough to find a workable solution to an Irish border problem left over from a previous century. Disappointing to say the least — because to overcome political problems is what elected officials are paid to do and if they can’t do it, they don’t deserve their jobs.

The four pillars of Brexit were and are:

  1. Take back control of the UK’s borders and immigration
  2. Take back control of the UK legal system
  3. Take back control of the UK economy
  4. Take back control of UK trade

And Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement only succeeds on the first three due to the so-called ‘backstop’ clause in the draft Withdrawal Agreement. The backstop wouldn’t be required at all if a political solution had been found at any time over the past lollygagging 2-years.

Conceivably, the UK could lose all chance of ever making its own trade deals if the backstop kicks-in — which could easily happen if we are to judge it by the low-level of success we’ve seen so far in Brexit negotiations.

Therefore, having failed to agree an Irish border solution, the Prime Minister is asking for more time to arrange an Irish border solution — even though nothing on this brief has been resolved in over 2-years? Give me a break!

Rewarding mediocrity is not the way to deal with politicians.

Either Theresa May is complicit in trying to keep the UK (permanently) inside the EU Customs Union and Single Market against the instructions of 52% of UK voters (thereby giving up any chance of Britain ever signing its own trade deals, which strays dangerously close to becoming an act of treason for a sitting Prime Minister) or she is very naively gambling with the UK’s future by allowing the backstop to form part of a signed and therefore legal Withdrawal Agreement (thereby giving up any chance of Britain ever signing its own trade deals, which strays dangerously close to becoming an act of treason for a sitting Prime Minister).


Summary

If Theresa May continues to insist that the backstop must remain part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the Conservatives need to cut her loose, fast. The backstop clause is just too dangerous for the country and if it ever did kick-in, it would prevent the UK from seeking its own trade deals — thereby dramatically limiting economic growth in the UK for the next 100-years. That’s treason and tragedy in one dose.

If Theresa May says she can remove the backstop or add an addenda to her draft Withdrawal Agreement with a guaranteed end-date to the UK’s membership in the EU Customs Union, then I hope UK Conservatives vote to keep her on and give her every opportunity to succeed as Prime Minister and importantly, every opportunity to succeed as the Prime Minister responsible for the UK’s exit from the European Union.


Notes:

  1. Calls by anyone for a 2nd referendum are premature at best, dangerous at worst, and it adds to civil unrest with real consequences for the country and the economy — and the poor losers of the 2016 referendum should realize the country already had a ‘People’s Vote’ on June 23, 2016 — and the government still hasn’t gotten the job done from that referendum. Adding more work to the UK government when they haven’t even caught up with the last referendum result is lunacy.
  2. Theresa May threatening to cancel Brexit is undemocratic. The People voted to Leave and the government is to follow their instructions with no departing from those instructions. She hasn’t the right, short of nuclear war breaking out, to cancel what her employers have instructed her to do. If she’s complaining the government has run out of time, let’s remind her that she spent 2-years lollygagging around doing nothing productive with Brexit. Yes, it takes both sides to make a deal, but there is much that could’ve been done that wasn’t; Like formulating a ‘No Deal’ plan to help ease the country through the immediate post-Brexit period in the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. If she persists with her threat to cancel Brexit, she should be removed as Prime Minister and forced to resign her Member of Parliament seat in Maidenhead. That’s just too undemocratic to tolerate — for backbenchers, let alone for a Minister of the Crown, or indeed the Prime Minister of the country.
  3. Theresa May threatening to ask for an Article 50 extension is also a case of her wasting the first 2-years of her premiership, and then, not being able to get the job done on time. Again, if she persists asking for an extension to do her job when she should’ve been doing it all along, Conservative MP’s need to remove her from the PM’s chair.
  4. Apocalyptic cries about a so-called ‘No Deal’ Brexit should be ignored. The UK will begin saving money right away in the event of a No Deal Brexit: £39 billion on account of walking away instead of paying the EU for an Implementation Period, also, £12.205 billion (net 2019) will be saved by no longer having to contribute to the EU budget and £10.05 billion (net 2020) will be saved in FY 2020. Also, the obscene trade surplus that the EU runs with the UK of £95 billion per year will wither, perhaps by 50% per year until it hits zero. And in other ways, the UK will SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, money — beginning in the very first year of a No Deal Brexit. That’s a lot of money that the UK could put to better use than sending it to Brussels and hoping for morsels in return as the UK has done for decades.

Why the ‘Norway Option’ Presents a False Choice for Brexit Britain

by John Brian Shannon

If there was one thing that unified the 17.4 million Britons who voted to Leave the European Union, it was to end freedom of movement between the UK and the EU, as the utter failure of the EU’s Schengen Agreement means that anyone from anywhere can simply walk across an EU border and can’t be deported under EU law.

These days, the bloc doesn’t even police much of the EU’s perimeter, whether on land or sea. People arrive from anywhere; They are given a landed immigrant card that entitles them to the same rights, privileges and freedoms as any EU citizen — which includes eligibility for free healthcare, social welfare programmes and social housing. And in recent months, rioting refugees and economic migrants have agitated for employment guarantees and it looks like they may win that right. Which is a right that not even native EU citizens enjoy. (Just to show you how nutty it can become in the EU)

Therefore, for some UK MP’s to suggest that the so-called ‘Norway Option’ is a viable way to honour the instructions of The People, they are sadly mistaken. In no way can continued free movement of persons from a bloc with zero control over its borders form part of the legitimate remit of British MP’s who work for the good of the country and its citizens.

Signing up to a worse deal than the UK has now is a non-starter. Signing up to a worse deal than Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement is also a non-starter. The so-called ‘Norway Option’ just isn’t an option for the UK and no amount of spin is going to walk back the primary demand of 17.4 million British voters.

As baseball umpires say; Steeeerrrike One!


Onward to Strike Two:

Another reason that anyone who believes in democracy and sovereignty shouldn’t be pushing the Norway Option is that another primary demand of 17.4 million British voters was to end the jurisdiction of the European court and Norway remains under the jurisdiction of the ECJ on many matters — especially on trade related matters.

British MP’s should know better than to peddle this shambolic plan that continues to allow freedom of movement and ECJ jurisdiction over trade, some healthcare, and other social issues.

The ECJ is a fine institution in and of itself, and that is recognized around the world. No issues there. However, it’s an EU institution and by definition it must rule in the EU’s favour — as it isn’t named the Chinese Court of Justice, the Australian Court of Justice, nor is it called by any other name. It’s an EU-centric organization and everyone realizes and respects that. It’s a court that’s in business for the EU — not Norway, not for post-Brexit Britain and not Japan — for three more examples.

Again, signing up to a deal that’s a worse deal than the UK presently has with the EU just isn’t an option.

For now, as long as the UK remains within the EU, the UK has a small amount of ‘pull’ with the ECJ as the UK is a dues-paying member of the EU for the time being — but after Brexit the UK won’t have any say into how the ECJ operates, nor will it be allowed to offer unsolicited legal opinions to the European court

Umpire, please make the call: Steeeerrrike Two!


On to Strike Three!

BASEBALL ANNOUNCER: “Alright everybody, get ready. The Norway Option is down two strikes and the last and final pitch is imminent here at the bottom of the ninth inning. Let’s see what happens… and no matter which way it goes folks, it’s going to be a blockbuster.”

Ask any Norwegian what they think of the Norway Option. That’s it. I win!

And the Umpire calls: Steeeerrrike Three!

BASEBALL ANNOUNCER: “It’s ‘Game Over’ for the Norway Option team!”


Post-Game Commentary

Yes, folks. It’s just that easy. Because there is hardly to be found anywhere in Norway anyone who would agree that their present deal with the EU is a good deal.

Business owners there like it because it grants them access to the huge EU market. But it’s a costly access and there are millions of regulations that must be strictly adhered-to which drives up costs for those businesses.

But the vast majority of Norwegians aren’t business owners surrounded by mountains of regulatory paperwork to keep them well-insulated during the harsh Norwegian winter.

Most are people who appreciate the EU for what it is, but don’t like masses of homeless refugees and immigrants sleeping in the streets and panhandling (such things were never before seen in Norway!) and making their contribution to other crimes — and increasingly nowadays — organized crime rings led by recent immigrants from North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In a country of only 5 million citizens, Norway has enjoyed one of the world’s lowest crime rates. Indeed, most years go by without one (not even one!) murder per year. Historically, Norway has astonishingly low rates of rape and other sexual assault, and the lowest rate of property crimes in the world. However, since freedom of movement was foisted on Norway via their arms-length EU contract these things have almost become commonplace.

The beautiful Norwegian people and the pristine countryside have been befouled by relatively large numbers of low-level criminals and Norwegian business has been curtailed by the high cost of accessing the EU Single Market.

It’s like getting nicely dressed for an outing to a prestigious art gallery and paying good money to see the Mona Lisa or Group of Seven painting and then getting spit-on by a refugee hiding behind the artwork. (That’s how I imagine Norwegians feel about their à la carte deal with the EU)

I won’t even start on the loss of sovereignty in other ways, nor will I discuss other high costs that Norway and Norwegian consumers must bear as part of their country’s deal with the European Union.

But let’s end this discussion without prejudice to the EU, which, aside from the problems noted above, has become a great asset to our world and leads the world community of nations in many ways.

It’s just that at present, with unrestricted immigration and the high costs of exporting into the EU’s Single Market, combined with loss of sovereignty as an EU member or arm’s length member, it’s not the best deal, nor is it the only game in town. Yet, let us continue to respect old Europa for all the positive things she’s accomplished.

BASEBALL ANNOUNCER: “Okay folks, that’s a wrap. It was an easy win here today at the ol’ ball game; Come back next week when Canada+++ goes up against the ‘No Deal’ Brexit team from Britain’s ERG. Goodnight everybody!”


Related Article:

 

Generations Lived in the EU Without Benefit of a Referendum: But Our Generation Wants 2 Referendums in 3-Years!

by John Brian Shannon

The first referendum was held in 1975 so UK voters could approve or disapprove of the UK joining the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 (a trading union) and Britons approved it in 1975. Although that referendum was held almost 3-years after joining, the generation that approved it was the generation that had to live under EEC rules.

Which strikes me as pretty democratic — even though I have a minor problem with joining *and then* holding a referendum 3-years later. But, good enough.

What isn’t democratic is politicians signing the UK up to a political union in 1993 and then waiting 23-years before holding a referendum to allow UK voters to approve or disapprove. (And let’s face it, it’s one thing to join a trading club, but a whole other thing to join a political union)

So, the generations that lived under the EU (political union) for 23-years didn’t get a chance to vote to approve or disapprove of it until 2016. Now, that’s not democratic at all.

Some of those people who lived under the EU without the benefit of a referendum aged-out and left this world without ever getting a chance to say whether they wanted to join the EU over 23-years. (About 500,000 Britons die every year; most are senior citizens) So from that you can extrapolate how many people didn’t get a vote on EU membership from 1993 – 2016. (It’s in the neighbourhood of 11.5 million)

Even with all those people gone, the first time all Britons got a chance to vote on EU membership (23-years late) they voted to Leave.

But I guess to some, the people who built the great UK we see today just don’t matter. Because with this generation… it’s all about you.

Which is why the UK is now hearing shrill calls for a 2nd-EU referendum — even though UK politicians haven’t even carried out the instructions of The People from the last EU referendum in June 2016! Which in the above context, seems ungrateful and unseemly.

The generations that endured the influenza epidemic, WWI, WW2, the Blitz, food and fuel rationing, and a decade and a half of a bleak existence in the immediate postwar era, and then the Cold War (remember practicing Duck and Cover! every week in school in case of nuclear attack?) didn’t get a chance to vote on EU membership for almost a quarter century.

Duck and Cover! was pretty sobering stuff for children — absolutely no wailing, no crying, no negative talk allowed — and no participation badges.

In the generations from 1910 through 1990 just staying alive seemed like a miracle sometimes, and luxuries were for a small number of movie stars and royalty. And now in 2018, some 12.5 million of those people are gone without a single referendum on EU membership in all those 23-years, let alone two referendums within 3-years. Which strikes me as very undemocratic.

Sure, 12.5 million of those people are gone and they don’t care about referendums or EU membership now. But millions of them aren’t — they’re still here — and they’ve chafed under the bit of the EU since 1993 without a vote on the matter.

So dear Remainers, please consider the people who suffered extreme hardship to build the great UK we see today, who did it in mortal danger, without luxuries, and without you, when you agitate for a 2nd EU referendum before the government has even implemented the results of the 1st EU referendum. The previous generations earned every right to enjoy the Britain they built before they leave this Earth.

It’ll be your turn soon enough… 23-years from now seems about right.