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The Patriotic Thing, Theresa May, is to Brexit on March 29: Deal, or No Deal

by John Brian Shannon

Either a country is led by a strong leader who controls the narrative or the narrative is controlled by others

And because Theresa May allowed the narrative to be controlled by everyone but her since July 2016, the present moment of government dysfunction is on the Prime Minister’s head. Her talking about the ‘collective responsibility’ of the House of Commons for the ongoing Brexit spectacle is appalling.

She talks about the ‘collective failure of Parliament’ to find a way forward on the Brexit file, yet MP’s are simply reacting to the situation that Theresa May created — or rather, the situation that she allowed to evolve into what it is today.

Whatever is wrong with Brexit at this moment isn’t the voter’s fault, it isn’t the EU’s fault as they’ve been on-message the whole time without deviation (whether we agree with their positions are another matter, of course) and it isn’t the fault of Parliament.

The reason we’re at this absurd moment is because the seeds were set early in Theresa May’s premiership; In her initial feckless attitude towards Brexit, in her so-called ‘red lines’ (which she has now crossed every one of them, so why did she bother?) and in her weakness to a) stand up to members of her own cabinet, and b) to stand up for the UK’s position in Brussels with anything more than supplication and kowtowing.

Assigning ‘collective responsibility’ and ‘collective failure’ on a House of Commons that (practically) had to pull her teeth to gain even tiny bits of news about how the Brexit negotiations were unfolding is a bit rich, Prime Minister!


12-Days From Brexit Day

Europe is now 12-days away from Brexit and nobody, not one person in Europe, knows what’s happening!

The automatic and legally binding default is a No Deal Brexit — as that’s the law in the United Kingdom and in the European Union — as both accepted the final Brexit date as March 29, 2019 early in the discussions.

But if Theresa May is simply ‘going through the motions’ and running down the clock to get to a No Deal Brexit on March 29th she’s still got my vote.

Because, frankly, that’s what The People voted for in the June 23, 2016 referendum, and the referendum result was strengthened by the June 8, 2017 UK General Election where every party that won seats in that election were parties that supported Brexit.

At that time we weren’t talking about Withdrawal Agreements or Political Declarations as Theresa May hadn’t yet begun to confuse everyone with her ‘red lines’, with complicated withdrawal documents, with a plethora of Cabinet-level firings, resignations and hirings, complete with mixed messages between her and her still-employed Cabinet officials, between her and her caucus, between her and the EU and EC Presidents, and between her and the UK public.


Communications Breakdown!

I think I see where the problem is. Prime Minister Theresa May has a communications problem.

That’s fine. New Prime Ministers and new Presidents can sometimes have that problem. But it’s important to rectify it before it blows up the country, blows up Brexit, or even blows up the Conservative Party’s chances of governing ever again.

While she’s done a great job on the economy, on government services, and not too bad on foreign affairs (Brexit aside) nobody knows about that information, anywhere! Even people who work for the government might not know that. It’s a well-kept secret. And that’s the number one sign of a communications problem.

The second sign of a communications problem (in this case) is the present Brexit situation which is looking more a debacle each passing day. Even if the UK does exit on March 29th as promised and as required by UK law, she’ll still receive only half the credit she would for accomplishing that goal on account of the bad optics. Not to mention her remaining challenges.

If Theresa May is in charge of her own communications department she needs to fire herself fast — and if she actually pays someone to keep all her good accomplishments quiet and make her look as inept and as timorous as possible in her dealings with the EU, she needs to fire that person, fast.


The ‘Patriotic Thing’ List for Theresa May

  1. Always own your successes and always own your failures. Don’t try to fob your failures off on MP’s. You created the Brexit situation as it stands, you are the one in charge, it’s yours, own it. Like U.S. President Harry Truman said: “The buck stops here.” And every world leader must live by that rule. Yes, it can be unfair sometimes, but that’s life, and nobody ever said life was fair. It’s why you get paid the big bucks, and nobody forced you into the Prime Minister’s chair. Deal with it.
  2. Hire a communications director. You need help. He or she won’t be able to cover bad policy decisions that you make, but at least they can minimize them, and they can help you keep MP’s better informed all the way along a process so it doesn’t look like you F’d it up partway through and you’re now trying to dump the whole mess on them and make it look like it’s their fault.
  3. Keep your promises, no matter how hard that is to do. You said a million times that Brexit will be completed by March 29, 2019, therefore (too late to change now!) you must keep your promise. The UK must Brexit on March 29th, without fail, or you and your party are toast at the next election. And maybe the one after that.
  4. Even if the UK leaves without a Withdrawal Agreement, Britain will save £39 billion and it will become instantly eligible to sign Free Trade Deals with other countries; Two major benefits right there! And the EU will come calling, of that you can be certain. They need to sell all those BMW’s and Volkswagens into the UK, and a whole lot more than that. Within days and on an à la carte basis, every part of the present draft Withdrawal Agreement will be signed between the UK and the EU, but only because it’s in the best interests of both parties. It will happen organically. Don’t sweat it.
  5. Threatening to cancel Brexit or delaying Brexit, or adding one or two years to the Withdrawal Agreement negotiating process only works to make you look small. It will make you look like you’re not big enough to handle the job and it makes the UK look like a teenager who says he wants to move out of Mom and Dad’s house, yet becomes afraid and then reneges on his pledge. Cancelling Brexit or delaying Brexit for any reason means that you’re not up to the job and that you need to be replaced. Real leaders get things done, while pretenders need more time, more time, more time — until the whole issue goes away and it never gets done. That’s the kind of thing we see in Frontier economies, not in the Top 10 global economies.
  6. Stop acting like the UK is the 120th-largest economy on Earth. The UK is the 6th-largest economy in the world and every country wants to trade with it. The UK needn’t kowtow to any country. It’s time to embrace the world, and it’s time to re-energize our relationship with the Commonwealth countries.

Brexit… Prime Minister May, is not a problem to be managed, it’s an opportunity.

“Two men look out through the same bars; One sees mud, the other, stars.” Frederick Langbridge

62 Days Until Brexit & Still No Agreement

by John Brian Shannon

As per present UK law, Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. Which is the automatic default, by the way. Even if the government were to pack up shop and go on vacation, the UK would still cease to be a member of the EU on that date.

And, as of 26 January 2019, there’s still no signed Withdrawal Agreement for leaving the EU, nor is there consensus in the UK House of Commons on amendments to Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement. Which means that the UK and the EU are headed towards a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ where the UK leaves the EU bloc without any agreed terms, conditions, and mutual privileges.

It’s truly a sad state of affairs that 21st-century politicians can’t even agree on the terms for the UK leaving the EU bloc. You’d think they’d employ the kind of thinking that would get the job done, instead of employing the ‘Win-Lose’ thinking of the 20th-century that brought so much heartbreak to the world.

Howbeit, whether a deal is agreed tomorrow or as late as March 28, 2019 there’s no real problem — other than the fact that the business community won’t have much time to prepare for whatever terms and conditions may apply from January 1, 2020.

Not impossible. Just cutting it a bit close is all.


As You Would Expect, Remainers are Still Trying to Cancel Brexit

Their latest proposal is to support legislation delaying Brexit by 3-months or even until January 2020… ostensibly to give UK and EU politicians ‘time to think their way through’ to a solution (a Brexit agreement) that’ll work for both sides and therefore garner enough votes to pass in the House of Commons and the EU27 countries.

Of course, what it’s about is delay, delay, delay — until everyone dies of old age — or something else replaces Brexit in the European consciousness. You’ve got to know that they’re praying for a major terrorist attack (anywhere!) or another war (anywhere!) to make that bad ol’ Brexit man go away. Just make it go away, Mommy!

Yes… We know… It’s scary becoming a real country again, isn’t it? But that’s what voters want sweety and that’s what they’re going to get. So just buckle in. The adults in the room will get the job done and the sky won’t fall. You’ll be alright kitten.

Another Remainer ploy at this late stage is a proposal to have the UK government hold another EU referendum to ensure ‘The People’ voted the right way, and if not, to give them another chance. Kindness and redemption available from Remainers. So nice!

Not only that, you’ll probably get a participation badge for voting ‘the right way’ this time and the respect of un-democrats everywhere.


After Failing to Agree a Withdrawal Agreement for 2 1/2 Years and Counting; Why Do Remainers Think More Time Will Do the Trick?

As the same problems will remain — no matter how much time is added to the Brexit schedule — so how is the element of ‘more time’ expected to solve anything?

More time… won’t solve anything. In fact, it may prove harmful to the UK side on account of the upcoming EU presidential elections.

Both Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk may seem soft and fuzzy in retrospect once we compare them to the next holders of the EU and EC presidencies, and if the UK can’t get an agreement now with grandpa Juncker and uncle Tusk in office, how do we expect to get a deal with the next crew?

Especially when the fundamental issues preventing a deal won’t have changed one iota in the meantime.

The construct we call ‘time’ isn’t the problem here; It’s the issues. Get it? And either a smooth working relationship is worth preserving or it isn’t.

But if sufficient goodwill exists and if a spirit of compromise is in the air, there will be a deal, and the delays we’re experiencing are merely serving to pressure leaders into accepting a certain set of terms. If that is the case, such delays are being used as a tactic by one side to obtain the deal they want from the other side. Fair enough.

All tactics can be considered ‘fair’ as long as by the end of the process on March 29, 2019 it results in a deal that both sides can live with.


Defining the Future Relationship

More than anything else — because actions speak so much louder than words — if the UK and the EU sign a decent Withdrawal Agreement by March 29, 2019 it will guarantee world-class future relations between the two countries.

And the reward for that is quite obvious; Peace and prosperity for the people of the UK and the EU for the rest of the 21st-century.

When it comes right down to it; Is there anything more valuable in the geopolitical world?

If you think there is, then you haven’t been on the planet long enough. Therefore, stick around young sprite. You’ve plenty to learn.

After 3-years of Lollygagging, Now They Want an Article 50 Extension?

by John Brian Shannon

The best example of European ‘Low Ambition’ has arrived (in the UK of all places!) and British citizens should be enraged.

After piddling around for over 2 1/2 years, the UK government is now putting out ‘feelers’ about how the UK public would react to an Article 50 extension. Pathetic.

There are many valid reasons why citizens and the media should virtually veto this idea — and number one on the list is that it cynically works to strengthen the hand of Remainers many of whom still can’t accept the June 23, 2016 referendum result and are actively working to this day to subvert the will of the majority.

Is Theresa May actually trying to create the conditions necessary to start a civil war? Because without her feeding the anti-Brexit movement at irregular intervals over the past 30-months it would’ve died out of its own accord as it wasn’t that strong to begin with.

What kind of leader would work against the wishes of a majority of referendum voters to strengthen the losers of such an historic referendum? Sir Winston Churchill (who earned his title by the way) is rolling over in his grave at this very moment.

Again, Britain’s leaders must stop acting like they’re representing the 120th-largest economy in the world and begin acting like they’re representing the 6th-largest economy in the world. Yes, even if that is scary. Oh Winston, where are you?

Britons and the entire world are dying to hear Winston Churchill snarling, ‘This will be Britain’s finest owwwa!’ in full British bulldog mode.

And far less of;
‘IsItAlrightToSitHere?Oh,ItIsn’t?OK,Sorry,I’llSitRightOverHereThenIfThat’sOKWithYou. AndI’mWillingToPay£39BillionForThePrivilege,ButIfYouWantMoreThat’sOKToo. ButPleaseJustGiveMeSomeTimeToSellItToMyGovernmentFirst.
IfThat’sOKWithYou,Jean-Claude.Don’tBeMad,OK?’

Followed by the mandatory 5-minute round of air-kisses between the two. Sickening.


Let’s Look at the Pros and Cons of a Delayed Article 50

As there aren’t any ‘Pros’ let’s skip directly to the ‘Cons’ of an Article 50 extension:

  1. It might create a civil war in the UK: Or it might strengthen the present divisions which could lead to the kind of polarized society we see in the United States. Which is great if you’re a UK politician trying to make a name for yourself by using ‘Divide and Conquer’ tactics leftover from the feudal era, but it’s never good for a country. Yes, it might work for you but it will permanently damage the country. Anyone who uses such tactics to further their own career, prolong their premiership, or gain a fleeting advantage over their political opponents should be fired by their party for fomenting public strife.
  2. Adding even more uncertainty is bad for the economy: Keeping the fight going for whatever reason instead of getting on with the business of the country has had a deleterious effect on the UK economy. As long as a Remain vs. Leave fight continues business confidence within and outside the country is negatively affected. Leave won. Remain lost. Even Remainers in government must get over it, or do the honourable thing and resign their Parliamentary seat. This applies to the House of Lords as well. If you can’t accede to the will of The People you’re not a democrat, you’re a despot. And nobody wants you — except the losers of the 2016 referendum. Bye! We (the people who believe in democracy) won’t miss you. Don’t call. Don’t write. We don’t want to know.
  3. The UK looks weak in front of the entire world: As the world watches, the way Brexit has been handled on the British side makes Britain look disorganized, unsure of itself and led by a closet Remainer, that is at all times afraid of its own shadow… and this! this? is the UK that hopes to become a major exporting nation in a globalized world that (try not to laugh here) is supposed to be based on a meritocratic government and society according to Theresa May? Give us a break!
  4. There is nothing to be gained by extending Article 50. Nothing! The same (apparently intractable) problems will remain and nothing more can be said then, that hasn’t already been said between the two sides. If they can’t get it done in 3-years (!!!) what makes them think they can get it done in 3-years + 3-months? Ludicrous! The EU says the draft Withdrawal Agreement can’t be renegotiated (which is incorrect, as it’s only a ‘draft agreement’ or ‘proposal’) and if they want to sell cars, etc. to the UK they will sign a revised (no backstop) agreement at some time before the 11th-hour on March 29th. And I don’t blame the EU one bit for trying that bluff on a weak UK Prime Minister. I would too, as would any negotiator. But Theresa May will be a fool if she falls for that ol’ negotiating ploy. Everyone can see it for what it is. So why can’t Theresa May? Inexplicable!
  5. After the EU/EC elections in May 2019, the UK will be facing the ‘Hard Crew’ — not the ‘Soft Crew’ of jolly old (and powerful) Jean-Claude Juncker and businesslike (and powerful) Donald Tusk — both of whom almost like the British. The Hard Crew is most decidedly NOT going to be easier to negotiate with. The Hard Crew is NOT going to allow any better deal for the UK. The Hard Crew is NOT going to put up with some of the shenanigans we’ve seen from the British side. And the Hard Crew certainly won’t consider changes to the proposed backstop. And the Hard Crew (and this is important!) won’t be bound by any self-serving and pollyanna Political Declaration that has absolutely no force in law. Might as well tear that up right now Theresa because the Hard Crew isn’t going to entertain one word of that document unless some part of it happens to favour the EU side. If you think the EU aren’t your friends now (and they aren’t, they’re quite rightly negotiating and bluffing for their own side, not the UK side) just wait until you meet the new boss!

Finally, Theresa May has been getting better and better by the month. However, she’s failed to grasp some important points which may prove disastrous to Britain and to her legacy once she leaves office.

Her oft-repeated statement which she quoted on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday goes like this; “Don’t let the search for the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

Which is a nice thought but it misses the mark and she doesn’t see it. Brexiteers aren’t asking for “the perfect” — they’re asking for a “successful” Brexit. What Theresa May thinks is “the perfect” is what Brexiteers merely consider “the bare minimum” level of Brexit success.

Remember the four metrics of Brexit success?

  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 her draft Withdrawal Agreement as it presently sits (unloved by anyone in the world except Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker) satisfies only 3-out-of-4 of those metrics, but is otherwise an excellent document.

Which results in a failed grade for Theresa May as far as Brexit negotiations are concerned.

A ‘No Deal’ Brexit is far superior to the present draft Withdrawal Agreement as a No Deal Brexit WILL ALLOW THE UK to strike any trade deal it wants, post-Brexit.

Theresa May is living a fairy-tale if she thinks that allowing the backstop to remain in the draft agreement and then post-Brexit trying to negotiate her way out of the backstop with the Hard Crew is going to get the UK out of the backstop. (What???)

Sorry Theresa. I like you. But the EU is trying to steal Northern Ireland from the UK by stealth (If I were them, I’d try the same thing!) employing the backstop to arrive at the point in time where a UK Prime Minister’s choice would be narrowed down by events to only one of two choices; Either surrender Northern Ireland to the EU, or the UK becomes trapped in a worse deal.

Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement as it stands would’ve gotten her a 1-out-of-10 grade in Political Science class. That’s a 10% grade. Not even up to the D- mark that we all feared in high school.

Yet, with one change (dropping the backstop, or alternatively, putting a firm end-date on Customs Union membership) would turn that very same draft Withdrawal Agreement into an A+ agreement, or 95% if you prefer that measure.

Who wants an even worse deal than at present? Hands up! None? See Theresa, I’m right!

So choose to drop the backstop, or alternatively, get a firm end-date on Customs Union membership and you’ll be the hero of Brexit and live out your life in the House of Lords after your premiership ends! Or, choose to be reviled worse than Guy Fawkes — for being the Prime Minister who delivered the British people into the hands of the EU’s Hard Crew and concomitantly trap Britain in an even worse deal than it presently has.

There’s no other options left. Taking the path of least resistance with your EU pals is no longer an option. The time has come to show some mettle or get out-of-the-way and let someone who can get the job done, get it done.

And forget about cancelling Brexit. That should be a treasonable offence even for British MP’s including the Prime Minister. The People voted to Leave and you must follow their instructions.

Of course it’s nice to leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement that allows an easy Implementation Period so that no one has to work too hard at moving to a new way of doing things, and it’s nice to create fluffy and pretty Political Declarations that sound wonderful and sweet (but in reality will rank as nothing once the Hard Crew gets into power) and all the other sweet, flowery, diplomatic and fluffy things that the new relationship with the EU could and should be. But none of that is based in reality.

And unfortunately, no matter how we try to pretty it up, we live in reality, not in non legally binding documents. And no one wants to be trapped in a worse deal.

So, put on your big-girl pants and get the final and most important part of the job done, or get out-of-the-way and let someone else who can, get the job done.

You’ve been great, but obtaining a successful Brexit is bigger than any one Prime Minister (or two, or three!) and it must be done right.

Hurt feelings, being pushed aside for a more proactive and bolder Prime Minister, or not being able to build the legacy you want are far less important than the British people getting out of the EU (which is what they voted for) and either obtaining a better Withdrawal Agreement prior to March 29, 2019 or moving smartly along to a No Deal Brexit by the same date, are your only two options.

Any other paths are merely flights of fantasy that only serve to waste everyone’s time, including yours.