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Once upon a time, I believed in the goodness of the human spirit and I rather naively believed that people would work together to solve common challenges — allowing humanity to triumph over chaos and that everyone, from the leader of the largest country down to the youngest intern, would eventually find themselves living in a de facto nirvana.
Boy, was I wrong!
Be Careful What You Teach Me!
It seems something’s been lost and I can sum it up thus; ‘I’m alright Jack, I’ve got mine!’ which seems to be the overriding imperative in this age.
No longer are people hardwired ‘to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem’ as they were in my generation.
Can you spot the difference between those two statements? Many can’t.
So it is with international relations these days where if ‘Country A’ wins, it automatically means that ‘Country B’ must lose. Such Neanderthal thinking!
Surely humanity has evolved beyond the brute ‘logic’ of the apes of the jungle where ‘Win-Lose’ paradigms are a fact of life and to ‘Lose’ means certain death?
But apparently not, for ‘Win-Lose’ paradigms are popular in certain circles, while more advanced humans employ ‘Win-Win’ thinking to solve their challenges.
It’s almost like there are two species of humans living on planet Earth in the early 21st-century; The intellectuals on the one hand who work the Win-Lose side of the street and the geniuses who work the Win-Win side.
You’ll recall a quote from your philosophy studies which comes from Albert Einstein who wisely said; “Intellectuals solve problems while geniuses prevent them.”
Ahem. Yes. Not too much of that these days, is there?
The other quote of note comes to us courtesy of former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who said; “Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.”
So its a mystery to those on the Win-Win side why Win-Lose remains so popular even as Win-Win is obviously a superior problem-solving method. Is it because ‘Genius’ thinking continues to be as ‘unrewarded’ as it was in the time of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge?
(Someone should fix that. Let’s call it what it is; Systemic Problem #1 on planet Earth)
Is that why some (political actors especially) default to Win-Lose paradigms in the early 21st-century — because there’s more profit in that?
If so, it’s only a matter of time before some madman decides the only way to ‘Win’ is to nuke everyone else and then ‘he’ and ‘his people’ can ‘Win’.
I’ll bet there’s a ‘scenario’ written in someone’s ‘playbook’ where that ‘instant-win’ is purported to be ‘the final solution’ for humanity.
I thought we outgrew that kind of thinking at the end of the Cold War — because those doing the heavy thinking at the time were ultra-responsible humans who knew that ‘law of the jungle thinking’ would eventually spell the end of life on Earth.
So, the question is; Are we as a species regressing to Win-Lose thinking?
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” — Proverbs 26:11
Let’s hope not.
‘What’s This Got To Do With Brexit?’ You Ask
Well thank you for asking!
We were talking earlier about Win-Lose thinking, and how intellectuals employ Win-Lose ‘solutions’ to ‘solve’ present-day problems.
Meanwhile, others believe in ‘Win-Win’ solutions that work to ‘solve’ present-day problems and ‘prevent’ future problems.
“Intellectuals solve problems while geniuses prevent them.” — Albert Einstein (remember?)
Theresa May worked diligently (and naively) to solve present and future problems in the UK/EU relationship with a view to improving that relationship in the post-Brexit timeframe.
I wouldn’t call Theresa May a genius. But if a person worked hard to solve present problems and to prevent future ones in a Win-Win spirit of fair compromise, such a compliment can’t be too far off the mark.
Unfortunately, Theresa May (rightly or wrongly) felt she couldn’t trust many in the Conservative Party and therefore, she took the Brexit ball and ran with it by herself as far as she could.
Having been shut out of the process, Conservatives were unable to give their full support to Theresa May — and worse — the EU failed to see the brilliance of her Win-Win thinking; Thinking designed to solve present UK/EU problems and prevent future UK/EU problems.
I think Theresa May’s intentions were 100% admirable, naive… and worth a try!
Heroes Often Fail
Ultimately, Theresa May failed to garner enough support among Conservatives and other parties in the House of Commons — and the EU did its part to ensure her eventual failure by insisting on the Win-Lose backstop portion of the deal — a thinly-disguised attempt to grab Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom.
READ HERE AND HERE (skip to point #7 if you’re short on time) where I suggest that the EU needn’t try to steal Northern Ireland using diplomatic stealth, clever language and convenient circumstance to ‘take’ NI from the UK, because the British Royal Family (which owns Northern Ireland, having purchased those Irish counties outright from the poverty stricken Irish citizens at the request of the Irish government in the year 1800) should ‘give’ NI to the Republic of Ireland.
It’s just another form of genius the Royal Family should approve — thereby putting an end to the problem of too much blood spilled and treasure spent in the 19th, 20th, and early 21st-centuries — and to prevent future problems.
It’s been a black hole in successive Monarchs’ finances since 1800, and British taxpayers have paid billions in subsidies to help UK citizens living in NI, and thousands of needless deaths occurred there, and the RF, the UK government, and British taxpayers should be glad to be rid of the responsibility.
No more need to send billions annually to NI to support an economy on permanent life-support through no fault of the excellent Arlene Foster and her DUP colleagues! it’s merely the way the entire Northern Ireland economy has ‘evolved’ rather than being ‘managed’ since 1800. And, no more needless death, destruction of lives and property, people maimed by horrible weapons, and no more heartache!
And the blame for it rests on foreign operators who wanted NI for themselves for more than 219-years — even more evidence of Win-Lose thinking by mediocre people.
With Northern Ireland Handed to the Republic of Ireland There’s No Longer Any Need for the Hated Backstop Clause in the Withdrawal Agreement
Such thinking could solve every remaining problem between the UK and the EU.
- Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement (sans-Backstop) could then be approved and implemented by the House of Commons.
- The Political Declaration too could be approved and implemented by the Commons and UK and EU politicians could host plenty of photo opportunities to celebrate their brilliant solution.
- The Royal Family would be free of continued responsibility by virtue of ownership of the land of Northern Ireland, the UK taxpayer would no longer need to subsidize UK citizens living in NI — and even if UK GDP stayed the same — billions less would be spent to subsidize Northern Ireland — leaving billions suddenly available for Wales, Scotland and England. Not to mention the NHS.
- UK citizens living in NI would of course, under my proposal, be invited to move to Great Britain (and only if they actually did move to GB by 2021) they should be eligible to receive a generous moving allowance from the UK government. Even if those combined amounts equalled the annual subsidy paid to float the Northern Ireland government for one year — it would make it the last year of NI subsidies!
Well That’s All Good. Why Favour ‘No Deal’?
As a previous generation of UK politicians surrendered some amount of sovereignty to a foreign power which is clearly illegal under the UK’s constitutional framework, it means the UK ‘joined’ the EU illegally and therefore isn’t required to ‘leave’ the European Union as the UK was never a legal member of the EU to begin with.
That’s why the UK can’t enter into a legal agreement to leave that had no force in law to start.
ab initio: A Latin phrase meaning ‘from the beginning.’ A marriage that is ‘unlawful’ is ‘void’ — ab initio — as if it never happened.
Just drop off the key, GB, and set yourself free!
The UK Joining the EEC and the EC Was Legal; Joining the EU Wasn’t
Therefore, whatever arrangements were in place immediately prior to the UK illegally joining the EU would automatically be reapplied (EC rules and regulations) and be legally enforceable until such times as both entities (the UK and the EU) agreed to any subsequent changes in their relationship — which is why in a previous post I suggested an incremental negotiation process should take place going forward.
Therefore, the only negotiation of any immediate consequence is; How much time to give UK businesses to return to EC rules and regulations in place at the time of the illegal accession to the European Union?
It seems pertinent to choose October 31, 2019 in order to streamline the whole operation.
Does the Royal Family need to ‘Negotiate’ with the Republic of Ireland?
No. Under my proposal, the RF would notify the Republic of Ireland (now) of its intention to quit Northern Ireland by December 31, 2020. And that’s it. That’s all the government of the Republic of Ireland is entitled to by the present owner of Northern Ireland.
(Under this proposal) we’re ‘giving’ it to you, you’re not ‘taking’ it. Do you get that?
Maybe they don’t want it. Maybe they’ll give it to Steve Bannon. Maybe they’ll drive all their sheep up there and use it for pastureland. Who cares?
A Better Modus Vivendi
What matters is, this proposal is designed to end present problems and prevent future problems in regards to the sorry situation that’s existed in Northern Ireland for decades. Genius!
No longer would there be a need to send billions annually to subsidize Northern Ireland — and any NI residents who want to move to Great Britain prior to December 31, 2020 should receive generous funding from the UK government to relocate without losing (potentially) hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling. Genius!
There’s no need for a ‘Brexit deal’ as the original treaties allowing the UK to obtain EU membership were illegal for any UK government to sign, and therefore, as it was never a legal joining, let EC rules and regulations be reapplied from October 31, 2019 onward. Genius!
And forget about the never-approved but much-talked-about £39 billion exit fee. The UK was never a legal member of the EU and the UK paid much more to the EU governance architecture than it ever received. Genius!
If the UK and the EU ever decide they want a trade deal similar to the highly-regarded CETA deal with Canada, great! Until then, EC rules and regulations would continue to apply. Which, if UK politicians from a previous decade hadn’t erred, would have remained in effect all along. Genius!
In an historic referendum on June 23, 2016 a majority of British citizens voted to Leave the European Union, and the ruling Conservative Party of the United Kingdom agreed to carry out the will of The People. So far, so good.
Theresa May was then appointed by the Conservative Party to be “The Brexit Prime Minister” and both the Conservative Party and the new Prime Minister promised that they would carry out the will of The People.
But then, they didn’t.
8-Days to go Until the Official Brexit Date of March 29, 2019
To be fair, there are still 8-days to go until the official Brexit date of March 29, 2019 and the UK could still conceivably Leave the EU on time — thereby allowing Theresa May and her Conservative Party to keep their promise to The People. At least, that’s the theory.
So, it’s important to note here that The People didn’t vote for a Withdrawal Agreement, nor did they vote for a Political Declaration, nor did they vote for a Joint Instrument. The People voted to Brexit, they didn’t vote for fancy-schmantzy political documents that seem unbelievably important to bureaucrats and politicians, but which appear to be meaningless drivel to the severely normal citizens of the UK and the EU.
Therefore, the onus is on UK and EU politicians to get the job done that they were hired to do, and to not allow their political games (or their trouble-causing political documents) to prevent the will of The People from being carried out as directed in the easy to understand 2016 referendum ballot question and subsequent vote result.
To put it simply; The will of The People trumps the bureaucratic and political machinations of UK and EU politicians, 100% of the time.
Why Do We Need a Brexit Extension Anyway?
Because. The. Politicians. Just. Couldn’t. Get. The. Job. Done.
Is anyone really surprised about this? I doubt it.
Today, with 8-days to go until the official Brexit date of March 29, 2019, the EU appears to have granted Theresa May’s request to extend the official Brexit date to May 22, 2019 (not to the June 30, 2019 that she was asking for) subsequent to the UK House of Commons passing the draft Withdrawal Agreement, and the non legally binding Political Declaration, and the (helpful in a minor way) Joint Instrument.
So, what have they been doing over the past 1001-days?
As of today’s date (March 21, 2019) it’s been 1001-days since Britons voted to Leave the European Union — and in all that time the politicians couldn’t come up with a way for the UK to Leave the EU and not have it break their own-chosen date of March 29, 2019.
It’s a damning indictment of politics in the 21st-century. There’s no other way to say it!
Let’s Compare Cultures, Shall We?
In any military culture, a failure to deliver on such a massive scale would result in the court-martial of everyone involved in this duster-cluck; And in any corporate culture, every CEO involved would’ve been fired at the 6th-month for non-performance, and likewise their replacements fired at each subsequent 6th-month interval for the same reason.
In any royal culture; Such Kings, Queens, Princes, etc., who would fail on such a massive scale would have their status severely downgraded among their peers within days or weeks.
In the entertainment industry; And even in Hollywood, the land of milk and honey, punishment exists for massive failure:
- Let’s imagine for a moment that Theresa May, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk were hired on June 23, 2016 by the Academy Awards talent committee to host the Academy Awards on March 29, 2019.
- And then, let’s imagine that they were still negotiating (with each other) the lines that they would read while on stage, right up to mere hours ahead of the Academy Awards event.
- And then let’s imagine that all three of them emailed the Academy Awards talent committee mere hours before the event to inform them that they wouldn’t be ready to read their lines on March 29, 2019 — until May 22, 2019, or maybe later than that.
- Consequently, the Academy Awards would need to be suddenly cancelled and rescheduled to May 22, 2019, or maybe later than that.
- Or, suitable replacements to host the Academy Awards would need to be found, to allow the show to go on as originally scheduled.
- What do you think would be the response from the Academy Awards committee?
- What do you think would be the response of the television viewing public?
- Even in Hollywood, the land of good and bad actors, the land of debauchery (sometimes) and excess (always), the land of drama and the land of special effects — these people would be fired forever. (You’ll never work in this town again!)
Only in political systems could humans exhibiting failure on such a massive scale survive and thrive. It is to weep.
Having Painted Themselves Into a Corner; The Only Face-Saving Way Out of This Disaster is a WTO Brexit!
Maybe that’s what these politicians wanted all along, as the end result!
In that way (they hope) citizens on both sides would recoil in horror from the dreaded WTO-style Brexit.
No wonder these politicians and their enablers have been doing everything they can to amp-up fears about a so-called ‘No Deal’ Brexit which would allow these bad actors the political cover they need to cancel Brexit altogether, which is, I suspect, what they wanted all along.
“The will of The People be damned! We won’t be told (by voters) how to run OUR countries!”
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Two men look out through the same bars; One sees mud, the other, stars.” Frederick Langbridge