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Will there be a UK/EU Trade Deal?

One would hope there will be a UK/EU trade deal signed by 2021, but there’s no reason good enough to give away the entire country as a way to obtain a trade deal — a deal that should be as important to the EU as it is to Britain.

The EU mindset seems to be to stridently ask for everything and if the Brits are incompetent enough to grant everything, then the EU won’t mind taking it.

But it seems that every time the UK government stands up for UK business and for Britons, the cries of being treated unfairly reach another record-setting crescendo.

Listen to the rhetoric that the EU side is using to force the UK to agree to their terms:

“The UK needs to take “significant steps” in the coming days to secure a trade deal with the EU, the European Council president said.”

“Charles Michel said talks were approaching a “moment of truth” ahead of a crucial EU summit…”

“The Irish PM, Micheál Martin said “movement” was required before “end-state negotiations”…”

“…Mr Michel said… the UK side needed to take “significant steps”…”

“The coming days are crucial,” he added.” — Excerpts from BBC

There’s nothing like putting all the pressure on the UK side hoping they panic and agree to sign everything away at the last minute! That’s obviously the EU tactic here.


The EU (so far) has Taught the UK that Polite Diplomacy Doesn’t Work

“Everyday, we teach others how to treat us.”

The UK side has played the entire Brexit thing very politely. In fact, too politely.

Former British Prime Minister Theresa May flew to Brussels dozens of times (often on very short notice) with no way to prepare as she wasn’t always told what was to be discussed — only to return later that day, disappointed, frustrated, empty-handed and beat-up after listening to another EU browbeating.

On top of all that, she was forced to face the then-cowed UK Parliament (not all of them, but enough to add more misery to her day) and face the then mostly pro-EU media.

She deserved better than she got.

I still feel sorry for Theresa May who was the UK’s diplomatic champion yet got nothing but disrespect from all sides. She deserves an OBE for her perseverance and for displaying almost superhuman goodwill towards the Inquisition panel over in Brussels.

Now we have Prime Minister Boris Johnson fighting for the UK and with a very capable team. Good luck, Boris! You’re going to need it.

More than anything else, were I advising UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, I would suggest he hire several of the UK’s best psychologists to explain to Boris and his team what is going on in the EU heads.

And I’m happy to inform you as to what those psychologists might say…

‘Mr. Johnson, there’s no agreement that will ever be good enough for the EU. They are suffering because their best example of what the EU is trying to attract to their bloc decided to leave and they are embarrassed and upset. And to add further pain, the UK was their 2nd-best economic contributor to the European Union annual budget.’

‘Nothing you can offer them Boris, will ever be good enough, no matter what! Therefore, trying to give them a sweet deal on fishing rights, automobile trade, energy, or anything else in an attempt to soothe their hurt feelings represents the worst kind of political folly.’

‘Therefore, please walk away Boris if they’re going to put a higher priority on their bad mood than on their future relationship with the UK and The Commonwealth of Nations.’

Let ourselves never fall into the trap the EU has set for itself.

by John Brian Shannon

Barbados to Drop Elizabeth II and Name it’s own Head of State

According to reports, the island nation of Barbados will become a republic and name it’s own official Head of State by the end of 2020, and in so doing replace the British Crown as its head of state.

“A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Barbadians wanted a Barbadian head of state.” BBC

Some Barbadians feel this is a way to ‘shake-off’ the country’s ‘colonial past’ and ‘presents a way forward’ for the country. And most definitely, it’s their right to do so, and I congratulate Barbadians on deciding to become an independent nation by the end of 2020.


There Will Be Some Changes, However

For one, the country will no longer be defended by the UK military. If you’re wondering why… ask UK taxpayers.

No country on Earth will spend billions to defend another sovereign country, so why would UK taxpayers want to pay the costs associated with defending Barbados? And why would British troops want to risk their lives to defend a nation that will have cut all ties to the United Kingdom by the end of 2020?

Although Barbados does maintain a tiny military, until now, the UK military has been legally obligated to help defend Barbados should it ever face attack, invasion, or even at-sea piracy.

But once Barbadians have their own head of state, it means that if they wanted to, they could declare war on any country… including the United Kingdom. Not that they would, of course. But it’s a right they don’t presently enjoy according to existing agreements. After December 31, 2020, they can.

For two, titles of nobility that have been granted over the years to citizens of Barbados will become null and void once the UK’s Elizabeth II is dropped as the official Head of State of Barbados and that island will thenceforth become their own republic with their own head of state. Titles of nobility are granted by the British Crown — awarded to those who have served the UK with the utmost bravery during wartime or the utmost success during peacetime, and only to those who are either UK citizens, or Commonwealth citizens where their home country declares the British monarch to be their Head of State.

Titled persons in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other Commonwealth countries that recognize the King or Queen of the United Kingdom as their Head of State, have no such fear of losing their title of nobility.

The Right Honourable The Lord Black of Crossharbour, KCSG, Conrad Moffat Black, for example, will retain his title for as long as Canada remains a member in good standing of The Commonwealth of Nations, and Canada continues to hold the serving UK monarch as it’s official Head of State, and as long as Lord Black continues to maintain a respectable, law abiding life.

The same can’t be said about The Right Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, presently serving as the Governor General of Barbados. Once Barbados leaves the United Kingdom’s orbit, her UK title instantly becomes null and void unless she decides to become a legal citizen of the United Kingdom (and then how could she serve as the Head of State for Barbados?) but that’s up to her and the government of Barbados.

For three, we all remember the American invasion of Grenada in 1983, and the American invasion of Panama in 1989, and the American invasion of Cuba in 1961, and other adventures in the Caribbean.

I expect there will be an American invasion of Barbados within one-year of Barbadians lowering their relationship with the United Kingdom to almost zero. But hey, even if I’m wrong by 6-months I’ll still have made my point.

And my point is that if you’re a tiny Caribbean island nation, or even a huge nation with a tiny military and tiny population like Canada, and you’re located somewhere in North or Central America, you’d better get used to saying “Yes!” a lot, because that’s what it’s like living next to a superpower.

You either say “Yes!” (very politely) or the superpower will do it for you.

It’s the way of the world. You can’t beat them economically, you can’t beat them militarily, you can’t beat their massive intelligence infrastructure, and you can’t cry over it. The only way to exist next to a superpower is to play it real nice, and say “Yes!” a lot.

In fact, just say “Yes!” all the time. It’ll be better for you. You’ll see.

Is that the way to… ‘throw off the colonial past of Barbados’? It really makes me wonder.

But, once Barbados becomes a republic, the United Kingdom will become free and clear of having to defend that beautiful island nation. And good luck to them!

I myself will be thrilled when each Caribbean nation that presently has the British monarch listed as their official Head of State, declare themselves to be ‘fully independent’ and they all become ‘republics’ with no longer any need of the present, or any future British monarch as their official Head of State, because that will save the UK some treasure and possibly British blood, and the UK need never worry about defending those (almost impossible to defend, due to their tiny size and tiny population) Caribbean island nations ever again. Best wishes!

It’s Time to Nationalize the UK Rail System

There’s no getting around it, the UK rail system is in trouble!

UK rail systems were already facing significant challenges prior to the COVID-19 crisis, let alone what is expected to become a prolonged economic recovery — perhaps with successive waves of Coronavirus to further complicate things — and with some of the country’s rail operators falling into administration possibly within days. That disaster could unfold every week until every train in the country winds up parked.

Therefore, rather than allow a complete unravelling of the UK rail system via government inaction, Parliament needs to nationalize every rail operation in Britain and during this time of light ridership — solve every rail-related problem — beginning with standardizing the customer experience to the highest possible level.

Whichever rail operator has shown itself to be the most successful railway company over the past two-years (success = a good indication how a rail operator handles the profitable times AND an unprecedented national health crisis) should have their key managers hired by the government and placed in overall charge of the (proposed) then-government-run British Rail. That way the country will have the best-of-the-best operating that newly created pan-UK entity.

Click here to see Britain’s 2019 railway rankings.


Boris Has a Lot on His Plate, but This Is Important

Brexit is ultra-important, of course. No serious person would advocate for dropping things where they are and letting the present uncertainty continue. The government’s response to COVID-19 is super-important too, that goes without saying.

But millions of Britons ride UK trains every year; To work, to sporting events, to visit family, and to check on elderly friends who have no ability to run their own errands, or for some much-needed ‘retail therapy’ or for other reasons. Which makes the British rail system the 3rd-most important issue in 2020 for UK politicians, IMHO. Whatever else goes on in Parliament are politics that will inevitably work out over time.

Fixing the country’s rail system can’t wait because whether you’re a student, an employee, or an employer, trains are essential transportation in the UK.


Switching to Government Ownership

The government should purchase all rail systems at full market value and combine them into one mega-unit and merge them with Network Rail ASAP — putting the government in the position of owning ‘everything rail’ in the country. That way, there would be no delays or pushback whenever vital changes need to be made.

Some rail operators were in such rough shape financially — even before COVID-19 wrecked the economy! — that the purchase price might be £1 (only) along with assuming the existing operator’s corporate debt.

The government would be wrong to assume they have weeks or months to ramp-up to take control of every British rail company; Expect one rail company per month to fall under administration, beginning October 2020.

After a railway is shut down it’s more difficult to begin the process of fixing deficiencies once the former employees have moved-on to other jobs and management is consulting with the banks (and law courts) on outstanding financial issues, and their regular ridership are by then car-sharing or have made other lifestyle choices like quitting their jobs. (Why do that? No train, boss!)

Therefore, whatever the government does, they must actually begin to do it — next month. There’s no luxury of time here. Other than Brexit and COVID-19, this is the country’s most pressing issue and it needs to be handled. Yesterday.


Suggestions:

  1. The UK rail system is powered by high voltage (24,000 volt) overhead lines. This was done to make the UK rail system as CO2-friendly as possible. And while that part of it works well, those locomotives are only as clean as the National Grid that provides the electricity of which only 30% is renewable energy annually — much of it produced at night when the wind is blowing but no trains are running. Therefore, electric trains are dirty trains but only because of the source power plant emissions and the high-ish electricity transmission line losses experienced when dispatching electricity over long distances. However, as many electric locomotives are now nearing time for replacement, clean-burning bio-diesel locos could replace today’s electric locos, helping to create a more reliable railway.  And bio-diesel locomotives feature 80% lower emission levels compared to old-style diesel locos and (bonus feature!) schedule disruptions due to electrical grid failures will no longer occur.
  2. With the huge resources available to government, whatever major problems have been deferred by today’s rail operators due to the inability to afford expensive maintenance or upgrades would easily be afforded by the government acting as sole owner/operator of the country’s entire railway infrastructure. Yes, some immediate infrastructure spending would be required, but as the man says, ‘You can pay me now (a little) or you can pay me later’ (a lot) yet, once the upgrades would be completed the entire UK rail infrastructure would last several decades.
  3. The profound and expensive changes needed throughout the British rail system haven’t been made, can’t be made, and won’t be made by leaving them in the hands of private companies. There isn’t enough profit at the best of times to make both Profit and Necessary Upgrades to their systems. UK rail operators can either have profit or they can make necessary upgrades — not both.
  4. No private rail operator would say it publicly because saying so would affect their bottom line and risk upsetting their shareholders, but they’ve taken the business model as far as possible — and nobody likes to admit defeat! — but they did the best they could within the constraints they operate under. They can’t say it, but it’s time for the government to take back control of the country’s railway networks, fix what’s broken, upgrade what needs upgrading, and once the whole enterprise is purring like a kitten, sell it as a (by then) successful and profitable operation via IPO. The entire upgraded and profitable enterprise could fetch £1 trillion (approximately) 10-years from now, thereby allowing the UK government to (more than) recover the cost of righting the country’s rail system. Woot-Woot!

Written by John Brian Shannon