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Archive for the ‘Battle for Europe’ Category

Britain in purgatory

Posted by seumasach on April 14, 2019

Cailean Bochanan

14th April, 2019

At last, some clarity is coming to Brexit. We now know that Theresa May wasn’t just running down the clock for a no-deal departure and that the EU is prepared to give extensions without any plan or clue to a plan being on offer. Even if the EU isn’t heaven a no-deal Brexit would certainly be hell and the UK has therefore entered a sort of purgatory to be purged of the sin of hubris.

We are learning still more about the British constitutional system: it doesn’t , as claimed, rest on the sovereignty of parliament. An attempt by parliament to seize control has failed miserably. How can a mere aggregation of constituency I.e. local representatives act decisively on national issues: they voted to save their seats. It was the great elitists the Whigs, who despised the people with a vengeance, who extended the franchise in order to make sure the spectre of Stuart monarchical power, which had raised it’s head once again under George the Third, could never again return to haunt them. This led to the gradual emergence of the executive, prime ministerial power through the two-party system  within the legislative itself, in contradiction to the much-vaunted doctrine of the separation of powers. Such a system worked at it’s peak during times of nations consensus such as the the two world wars and Cold War, the famous post-war consensus. So even the British constitution works when there is consensus but what happens when the country is split down the middle, from top to bottom? Nothing happens by the look of it.

But there is no shame in being dysfunctional: there are plenty of other dysfunctional countries. Spain continues to be divided along exactly the lines of the civil war fought over eighty years ago and torn apart by regional division. Similar entrenched divisions are evident in many other European countries: that is one reason why they are so committed to the EU. The EU enables them to transcend irreconcilable local feuding and move to a new, higher terrain. The political stability of Britain post- Good Friday Agreement also depends on EU membership.The Greek crisis was largely blamed on the EU and was widely cited by left-leaning, Brexiteers. But they failed to note that Greece didn’t actually leave: Greece will eventually resolve it’s economic and political problems within the EU.

But we have boldly set out to go it alone and we’ve got as far as complete paralysis. We desperately want to move, “to just get on with it” in our fabled, no-nonsense, everyday, down to earth sort of way. To keep ongoing to the end of the road!

But the UK is already at the end of the road.The factors which have enabled our essentially parasitic, imperial  economic model to serve the needs of our people are no longer there no matter how we seek to escape EU financial regulation, protect our tax havens and enable illegal money flows into the country.And extraditing Assange or jumping on the anti-Maduro bandwagon won’t stop US competition in the offshore game. Under Trump “business” trumps the Special Relationship.

 The world has left us behind. China is leading the way with the greatest project of economic construction in human history, the Belt and Road Initiative. The EU-China summit shows that Europe is buying into it. Trump is already boasting about his big deal the with China, the grandfather of all deals, the greatest deal in human history etc.- so he tells us. It is a sad delusion that Brexit Britain will be global Britain. Outside the single market the UK is economically insignificant. Thatcher destroyed the UK’s industrial base but at least her single market idea enabled the UK to become , to some extent, a hub for incoming investment.. March 31st didn’t see Brexit but another historic event went largely unnoticed: the Basil 111 accords came into force changing the status of gold within central banking reserves. In other words, the beginning of the return of gold as money and the beginning of the end of the dollar reserve fiat system introduced in 1971. This in turn threatens the status of the pound which hung onto the dollar’s coat tails under that system.

With a no-deal Brexit looking like a leap into the abyss rather than just a leap in the dark it would appear to be off the agenda. The other imagined forms of Brexit constitute a huge mass of fudge best epitomised in Corbyn’s membership of “a” customs union and close alignment with the single market, whatever that’s supposed to mean. If only the problem were a disconnect between the people and the political class as it has become fashionable to claim. The vagaries of Labour Party policy are the result of an attempt to connect to the people, a people itself hopelessly divided and confused as would be expected when you reach a fork in the road, when you face a historic shift in the status of the UK, something which can’t be grasped within the parameters of the everyday.

The remain option is now the only logical one but may still be politically impossible. Unable to leave and unable to remain our stay in purgatory may be a prolonged one. Another extension may be necessary. It is a national humiliation.

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Pompeo, Pence & the alienation of Europe

Posted by seumasach on February 25, 2019

Patrick Lawrence

Consortium News

19th february, 2019

What a job Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did in Europe last week. If the objective was to worsen an already critical trans–Atlantic rift and further isolate the U.S., they could not have returned to Washington with a better result.

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Gavin Williamson’s post-Brexit military plans are a dangerous fantasy

Posted by seumasach on January 15, 2019

Coinciding as it does with appeals for a hard Brexit from senior security state people, Williamson confirms Brexit as a neo-imperial project gone wrong.

Peace Pledge Union

30th december, 2018

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been accused of living in the nineteenth century after promising to build new military bases around the world following Brexit.

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Ex-MI6 and defence chiefs warn Tory MPs to vote down Brexit deal that ‘threatens national security’

Posted by seumasach on January 15, 2019

Explaining why they oppose the new relationship with the EU in the agreement, they write: “Buried in this Agreement is the offer of a ‘new, deep and special relationship’ with the EU in defence, security and intelligence which cuts across the three fundamentals of our national security policy: membership of NATO, our close bilateral defence and intelligence relationship with the USA and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.”

The geopolitical stakes in Brexit couldn’t be put more starkly. However, short of Trump’s removal from office, they appear totally unrealistic.

Sky News

10th January, 2019

A former top spook and an ex-defence chief have taken the unprecedented step of urging Tory constituency bosses to order their MP to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

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Probes involving Trump associates are becoming difficult for the president to ignore

Posted by seumasach on December 15, 2018

Britain is descending into political chaos as May is seemingly playing for time. Meanwhile, attempts to unseat Trump reach a crescendo at least in the press. The impeachment of Trump would restore the Special Relationship and perhaps put Brexit back on the road to Oceania.

 

Independent

15th December, 2018

The interview that Michael Cohen gave ABC News on Friday morning should show Donald Trump one thing; that until he surrenders to begin a three-year prison sentence next March, he is unlikely to go away.

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Hammond threatens EU with aggressive tax changes after Brexit

Posted by seumasach on December 15, 2018

It is clear now that the meaning of this statement has to be revisited in the light growing American hostility to UK financial interests culminating in Trump’s election and  embodied in his tax reforms, and the growing campaign to render British Overseas Territories more transparent finally concretised in 2018 legislation. Dodgy financial operations are not only under threat by EU regulations but by US competition. and have been for some time. Hence the need for a deepening of the City of London’s role as a haven for illicit money flows.

Guardian

15th January, 2017

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has suggested Britain could transform its economic model into that of a corporate tax haven if the EU fails to provide it with an agreement on market access after Brexit.

In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Hammond said that if Britain were closed off from European markets after leaving the EU, it would consider abandoning a European-style social model with European-style taxation and regulation systems, and “become something different”.

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Cameron stepped in to shield offshore trusts from EU tax crackdown in 2013

Posted by seumasach on December 15, 2018

Guardian

7th April, 2016

David Cameron intervened personally to prevent offshore trusts from being dragged into an EU-wide crackdown on tax avoidance, it has emerged.

In a 2013 letter to the then president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, the prime minister said that trusts should not automatically be subject to the same transparency requirements as companies.

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‘Dirty money’: U-turn as Tories back plans to make tax havens transparent

Posted by seumasach on December 15, 2018

“The disclosure measure had originally been proposed by David Cameron and George Osborne in 2013, but the commitment was dropped when May became prime minister, prompting Hodge and Mitchell to act in concert to get the measure on the statute book.”

Interesting that the UK government has acted against these tax havens although they still have the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. May, then, is a safe pair of hands as far as City interests are concerned and, by the look of it, not a closet Remainer.

Guardian

1st May, 2018

Britain’s overseas territories will be forced to adopt public registers of company ownership at the end of the decade after the government conceded it would have to support a backbench amendment designed to stem the global flow of “dirty money”.

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Trump tax overhaul may drain $2 trillion from foreign projects as funds shift to U.S.: U.N. report

Posted by seumasach on December 15, 2018

“Almost 40 percent of the funds are located in the United Kingdom or its Caribbean offshore territories such as the British Virgin Islands, UNCTAD said, citing data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.”

This hit by Trump against City of London and UK offshore interests has received little commentary but goes a long way to explaining the wall of hostility towards him in the UK press. This is also confirmation of my contention that Trump has ended the special relationship at a time when the UK itself is trying to throw off the regulatory fetters of the EU (I refer, of course, to the regulation of finance). It also goes a long way to explaining why the UK has descended into political chaos, finding itself caught between the EU and the USA, between a rock and a hard place.

Japan Times

6th February, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax reform could bring almost $2 trillion back to the United States as U.S. firms repatriate cash piles from foreign affiliates, a U.N. report said on Monday.

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Putin positive on Macron’s ‘European army’ plan

Posted by seumasach on November 17, 2018

So much for the theory that Russia seeks to undermine the EU by backing brexiteers and eurosceptics.
11th November, 2018
Europe’s desire to create its own army and stop relying on Washington for defense is not only understandable, but would be “positive” for the multipolar world, Vladimir Putin said days after Donald Trump ripped into it.

“Europe is … a powerful economic union and it is only natural that they want to be independent and … sovereign in the field of defense and security,” Putin told RT in Paris where world leaders gathered to mark the centenary of the end of WWI.

He also described the potential creation of a European army as “a positive process,” adding that it would “strengthen the multipolar world.” The Russian leader even expressed his support to French President Emmanuel Marcon, who recently championed this idea by saying that Russia’s stance on the issue “is aligned with that of France” to some extent.

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Enter Captain Corbyn!

Posted by seumasach on September 27, 2018

Cailean Bochanan

27th September, 2018

The analogy coming forcibly to mind of late was of Britain as a ship adrift without a captain heading towards the rocks as the crew below indulged in an endless brawl, unaware of or indifferent to the grim fate awaiting them. But my spirits have been lifted by the Labour Party conference; could it be that someone has emerged who can put the ship of state back on course to somewhere that is not the abyss. In other words, can Corbyn finally end his highly ambiguous stance on Brexit and at the crucial moment come out for Remain.

Without of course stating anything of the kind, Corbyn has pointed to that as the only logical outcome. The bare facts are that there is a consensus now in the Labour Party that Labour will vote against any deal negotiated by Teresa May which doesn’t satisfy the criteria that Labour has set down and that Labour will oppose a no-deal Brexit. Well, no deal which could conceivably be negotiated by May could satisfy those criteria therefore Labour will vote down whatever she comes up with. That means that deal would fail to pass the Commons leaving us with a no-deal Brexit. Opposing this at any cost, Labour would then campaign for a referendum with the two options being: Remain or the deal negotiated by May. They would win support for this in the Commons and the country would vote by a clear majority for Remain.

This was the logical kernel of the fudge agreed upon at the LP conference. But it was a tiny island of logic in a sea of fudge. Truth-telling is political suicide in the contemporary world: everything must be approached obliquely, through dissimulation, through fudge. Labour haven’t actually come out for Remain. It has been tentatively suggested as an option; all options are on the table, therefore, Remain is on the table. It could even be on the ballot paper (how could it not be!) should it come, in extremis, to a second referendum.  

The main element of dissimulation is the claim that Labour prefer to have a General Election so that they can take on the Brexit negotiations, so that they can take on May’s hopeless conundrum. As if they hadn’t learnt the one clear lesson of the last two years: there is no such thing as a Soft Brexit! They must have worked out by now that the Soft Brexit scenario was merely an invention of the hard line brexiteers to help sell a Hard Brexit i.e. Brexit by lulling the people into a false sense of security and then blaming Europe for a Hard Brexit and the whole mess that would flow from it. Incidentally, why they would want a mess in the first instance is a very good question that, with a bit of luck, we will learn the answer to in the years ahead. Anyway, returning to Labour’s fudge, they’re professed aim of demanding a General Election provides a very good alibi in anticipation of  any accusations of being closet Remainers and helps smooth over divisions in the party between those with the perfectly achievable goal of Remain and those who insist on pursuing the impossible mirage of a benign Brexit, a Brexit for jobs, a Brexit for Ireland and other such nonsense.

I’m being a bit unfair. There is a benign Brexit option: the Norwegian option. This could come in handy if Labour are unlucky enough to win a General Election called, for some reason, by Teresa May. After all, it would be very difficult for them to call a referendum after reaching their heart’s desire of a chance to negotiate a “Brexit for jobs”. So they could leave the EU but remain in the single market, maintain free movement etc.. Only, they wouldn’t have any input into the EU project. That wouldn’t be the end of the world. The EU has developed quite nicely without our input: they’re already working with Russia and China to bypass US sanctions against Iran and uphold the Iran deal. Britain would just have to sit things out for a while in the sin bin, quarantined from a world that is passing us by. But the ship of state would still be afloat!

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