Category Archives: Brexit

Bang goes the Good Friday Agreement as paramilitary groups accuse Johnson of betraying peace

Northern Ireland: it seems Boris Johnson’s stupidity may end not only his post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU but also terminate 23 years of peace.

Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.

The Loyalist Communities Council, a group representing the views of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, are protesting at Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The group has written to Johnson and Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, warning of “permanent destruction” of the 1998 peace agreement without changes to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The letter said unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland a part of the EU’s single market for goods – should remain “peaceful and democratic”.

But this is a decision to withdraw support for a peace deal that underpins power-sharing in Northern Ireland. If a solution is not found quickly, peace in the province could be lost – again.

And it would be Boris Johnson’s fault.

In fact, the Brexit deal seems to be unravelling fast for Johnson. The European Union has refused to ratify it for a second time after Brussels accused the UK of violating it.

The decision came after Johnson’s ministers said they would unilaterally change parts of the agreement to give businesses in Northern Ireland time to adapt to new trade rules.

Johnson is unsafe wherever he goes now.

If he decides to change the Brexit deal again, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, his dream of free trade with the EU (which turned out to be a nightmare in any case) will be over forever.

But if he doesn’t, he risks re-igniting the Troubles – as violence by nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 was known.

Loyalist paramilitary groups endorsed the Good Friday agreement and say they have no desire to reignite the Troubles.

But the LCC said the Northern Ireland protocol had breached safeguards in the Good Friday agreement to protect the status of the province and the rest of the UK.

So Johnson has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. And he only has himself to blame.

Source: Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement | Northern Ireland | The Guardian

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Iain Duncan Smith is to give his ignorance to post-Brexit government reform

The pick of the Tories: Iain Duncan Smith is a creature of odious habits and even worse politics.

The former Tory leader whose ‘reforms’ of social security have led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people has been appointed to lend his ignorance to the government again.

Iain Duncan Smith will chair the new Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform.

The title of the organisation creates the acronym TIGRR – tiger, get it? But Duncan Smith is no kind of tiger. As benefit claimants know from his time as Work and Pensions Secretary, he’s a little bitch.

This Site has its own acronym for him – RTU. It stands for “Returned To Unit”, the message of shame on the record of armed forces personnel who fail training for promotion up the officers’ ranks – as he is said to have done.

The government has claimed that the TIGRR will “identify and develop proposals across a range of areas that will drive innovation and competitiveness, reduce barriers to start-ups and scale-ups, create opportunities for innovation to make the most of cutting-edge technologies, and support growth and dynamism right across the UK economy”.

But with RTU at the helm it is more likely to reduce competitiveness with new schemes that will be massively expensive while helping nobody (like Universal Credit), create barriers that stop people getting what they need (as he did with all benefits, particularly those for the sick and disabled), and abandon cutting-edge technologies for paper and ink (as DWP workers were forced to do when his plan for Universal Credit to be fully computerised fell on its ass).

He didn’t even help his own government! All his so-called “reforms” created more expense and none of them saved any money at all.

Labour has said it is ready to fight over any reforms that could be harmful – particularly to employment rights.

While This Writer has nothing personal against Andy McDonald, I remember when the party under Ed Miliband, in the dying days of its previous right-wing, neoliberal incarnation, voted in support of RTU to harm benefit claimants and I have a doubt.

The simple fact is that the appointment of this death machine should tell us everything we need to know about what his organisation will do. And it won’t help anybody.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith appointed post-Brexit government adviser | The New European

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Brexit: Amsterdam overtakes London as Europe’s top share trading centre

Duper’s delight: Admittedly it was Andrea Leadsom, not Boris Johnson, who gave us the soft soap about Brexit leading us into “sunlit uplands” – but he was the figurehead for it. Surely he must have known it was a lie?

Didn’t the Brexiteers say this could never happen and that London would remain the financial centre of Europe (if not the world) no matter what?

Average daily trading halved from €17.5bn to €8.6bn last month, according to data released by the CBOE exchange – while trade in the Dutch capital surged from €2.6bn to €9.2bn as exchanges shifted order books abroad after Brexit.

It has happened because Britain failed to gain equivalence with the EU or strike a comprehensive trade deal covering financial services, meaning exchange operators such as the CBOE and Turquoise had to move their order books abroad by January this year.

The actual impact is small:

The change can be compared to moving a computer that processes online store orders from one city to another. While the computer has moved, all of its customers and suppliers are still in the same place. Likewise, while share trading has shifted, most of the traders, brokers and asset managers are still in London.

But the symbolic impact is huge.

Brexit is stripping the UK of its established place in the world. Thanks to Tories like Boris Johnson, the country is losing all of the power and prestige that ordinary people worked so hard to give our rich bosses.

In fairness, this decline may ultimately be good for us.

It might finally give apathetic Brits the kick up the backside they need to end the rule of the overprivileged few, introduce a fairer system that rewards those who actually contribute, and earn a return to the top.

But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

Source: Amsterdam overtakes London as Europe’s top share trading centre | Financial sector | The Guardian

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If half our exporters are in danger due to Brexit, should we ignore them in favour of the other half?

Imagine this container ship half-empty and you’ll have an idea of the effect that Brexit is having on UK exports.

That was the rationale behind the support for the EU referendum decision, if I recall correctly: that the 48 per cent who were disadvantaged by it should accept that the 52 per cent had won.

Now we see 49 per cent of UK exporters are facing difficulties that are disrupting their business as they struggle to cope with Brexit-related bureaucracy and border checks that the Tory government spent years promising would not be imposed.

People are making the obvious comparison, and This Writer thinks it is reasonable to do so.

All right – the EU referendum vote was democracy in action and it was won by those who wanted to quit the European Union.

That decision has consequences, and we are seeing those consequences in action now.

In January, the UK lost 68 per cent of its export trade to the EU. Now we see that 49 per cent of exporting companies are experiencing difficulties with the new system. If the situation continues, they may close. Already fishery firms are closing.

If firms go out of business, people will lose their jobs and the economy will spiral into a recession so deep that 2008 will seem like a picnic in comparison.

I wonder if Brexiteers who work for affected firms will still be telling Remainers, “You lost – get over it!” from the food bank queues.

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Since Brexit the UK has lost 68% of exports to its biggest market – because Gove ignored the experts

Michael Gove says the UK has had enough of experts: it seems his Chelsea scarf has cut off the supply of blood to his brain.

Now we know why senior Tories have been quietly telling us we’ll have to wait a number of years before seeing the benefit (ha ha) of Brexit.

I notice that the number of years mentioned seems to vary between five and 50. That also tells us much.

But it is our memories that we should be consulting. We were told that Brexit would take us out of the shadow of the EU and into the “sunlit uplands” of independence (even though we were never dependent on the European Union, when the UK was a member).

That was the happy fantasy; this is the bitter fact:

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit.

It’s a drop of two-thirds – a disastrous amount for any country. For the fifth-richest in the world, it signals a precipitous fall to a place much lower in the international wealth rankings.

And there must be no passing of blame. Responsibility lies firmly with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, it seems – who ignored repeated warnings from the Road Haulage Association.

In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.

In addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty because there were no goods for them to return with, due to hold-ups on the UK side, and because some UK companies had either temporarily or permanently halted exports to the EU.

“I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” he said.

Ah, well. We all know Michael Gove’s views about experts.

Yes indeed. Mr Gove said the people of the UK had had enough of experts getting it wrong all the time.

Unfortunately for him, it seems the experts – and, yes, they do come from an organisation that can be reduced to an acronym – were right and he was wrong.

I wonder how many billions of pounds he has cost his fellow UK citizens?

Source: Fury at Gove as exports to EU slashed by 68% since Brexit | Brexit | The Guardian

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Is this yet another example of Tory racism?

The Tories said that EU nationals would be encouraged to apply for “settled status” rather than being forced to leave the UK after Brexit.

That’s what they said.

But they have put obstacle after obstacle in the way – barriers to application and delays in Home Office decision-making being significant factors in pushing vulnerable EU citizens out.

And from January 1, EU citizens were quietly added to the Tory government’s voluntary returns scheme, offering them paid flights and £2,000 resettlement money to get them to leave of their own accord.

It seems clear that Tory policy hasn’t moved an inch since Theresa May was attacked so bitterly for sending advertising vans around London telling people from foreign countries to “go home”.

Worst of all, this is cutting our collective nose off to spite our face.

The UK relies on EU migrants to do a lot of important work. Without them – especially in the Covid crisis – we’ll struggle.

Either the Tories haven’t thought about that or – more likely, considering the Covid death toll – they simply don’t care.

Source: EU citizens offered financial incentives to leave UK | Brexit | The Guardian

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So much for ‘free trade’ between the UK and EU! Have you seen how much tax the TORIES are charging us?

Money, money, money: the UK government is coining it in VAT and other taxes since Brexit finally happened on January 1. And YOU are paying.

Tales of shoppers having to pay huge extra costs to have goods delivered from the EU post-Brexit are proliferating.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have free trade!

It means our own – Tory – government is charging us extra in taxes.

It seems possible that this was the intention all along.

So in the BBC story (link below), one shopper was lumbered with a £12 extra cost for a £50 item.

UK VAT accounts for £10 of the extra £12 that Sascha was asked to pay. Sellers may also be charging higher delivery fees to cover any extra paperwork or border delays they may face.

On items costing less than £135, the charge is applied at the point of sale.

Another buyer was asked to pay £123 on top of £600 (and £25 delivery) for two designer handbags from Paris – when they arrived. This was still UK VAT, the BBC reckons, but because the items cost more than £135, the charge was applied when the items reached their destination.

A woman who received earrings as a gift, posted by a friend, was charged £28.85 by parcel handler DHL, even though they were sent before Christmas. Deliveries ran late so they arrived after January 1 – and came with the added taxes.

Gifts worth less than £39 don’t attract any extra charges… But gifts over that, like gold earrings, are eligible for VAT and (if it’s over £135) customs duties. And it’s always the recipient who receives the bill.

Import VAT applies for second-hand items as well as gifts, even if bought from a private individual.

EBay already has its system set up to charge the extra VAT upfront. Amazon says VAT will always be charged at point of sale on its site too. But the system won’t be running smoothly yet everywhere

Oh – and it works in reverse, too. A person in France, buying a £150 pair of boots from the UK, was asked to pay 88 Euros in import duty, breaking down to 43 Euros VAT, 30 Euros customs tax and a 15 Euro handling fee.

She was able to reject the delivery – but many others may not have the option as firms are

changing their terms and conditions so that customers have to cover the extra charges, even when goods are returned.

The BBC explained:

Shoppers on the continent buying from UK firms face the same rules as UK shoppers do in reverse so Jemima would have had to pay VAT and customs charges, because the boots or the materials they were made from, originated from outside the EU.

The revelations received this response on the social media:

Goods shortages, much higher prices, but at least we’ve got blue passports eh? How many still think #Brexit was a good idea? Voluntarily kicking ourselves when we’re already down,” tweeted Sheridan Webb.

Pete Franklin added: “That normal, apparently successful, people are being surprised by this gives us a clue why we are in this mess – they simply haven’t been paying attention. ”

Perhaps Steve Feasey put it best: “When Project Fear turns out to be Project Hasn’t-Everything-Got-Dear.”

And some have added this to the list of disasters caused by Brexit since the EU referendum in 2016:

Source: Brexit parcel price shock: ‘I had to pay £30 for a gift’ – BBC News

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Tory blames Covid for Northern Ireland trade problems & admits it would have been better to stay in EU

Empty shelves: in fact this shot  is from the shortages when people were panic-buying before the first Covid lockdown. It should therefore be no surprise that Brandon Lewis is using Covid as an excuse for the consequences of Brexit.

How else are we to interpret Brandon Lewis’s admission that the European Union’s Single Market offers a “competitive advantages”?

Wasn’t the UK supposed to become more competitive by leaving the EU?

Lewis was responding to complaints that hundreds of products have disappeared from supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

According to the Belfast Telegraph,

Hundreds of products have disappeared in shops, many online sellers have stopped supplying NI customers, and freight hauliers report bottlenecks caused by new EU paperwork needed before lorries can board ferries from Great Britain.

Lewis said the shortages were due to Covid-19, not Brexit. But we all expected that, didn’t we?

If that’s the case, then why this post-Brexit disruption when traders had been promised unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

He said – well, hear it for yourself. As an added bonus, you get Peter Stefanovic demonstrating that Lewis was lying:

In another interview, on Radio 4’s Today programme, he undermined the entire argument for leaving the European Union at all:

Wow.

Okay.

In that case, let’s challenge Lewis to put it to the test.

If he thinks Brexit has put Northern Ireland at a “competitive advantage”, let’s see him go there and stand in front of a supermarket explaining to disappointed shoppers why they are now better-off.

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As fishing industry lorries protested in Whitehall, did the Tories experience the shell of fear?

Fishery protest: do you think the Tories got the message?

It was hardly what the Tories could call the sweet smell of success.

Yesterday morning a fleet of lorries representing the Scottish fishing industry converged on Whitehall and Downing Street bearing messages of post-Brexit protest against Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal.

Fears are high that the industry could collapse altogether as fish prices have plummeted due to bureaucracy that has left catches rotting rather than crossing EU borders.

So it seems Scottish fishery firms decided to bring the problem home to the Tory government by letting ministers experience for themselves the consequences of their decisions.

Curiously, it seems to have taken the Tory-supporting, Brexit-orientated media a while to cotton on to the newsworthiness of the demonstration:

They got their in the end, though.

The protest seems to have had an effect.

In contrast to Dominic Raab’s claims that delays to fishing exports were just “teething problems”, Boris Johnson announced a £23 million fund to support firms which “through no fault of their own have experienced bureaucratic delays, difficulties getting their goods through, where there is a genuine willing buyer on the other side of the channel”.

He said details of the scheme would be available later in the week.

This Writer will believe it when I see it, but the Scottish fisheries are to be congratulated.

It seems their aromatic lorries may have acted like a dose of smelling salts – and woken up our ministers.

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Now Brexit has happened, will Boris Johnson backtrack on his promises and scrap our protections?

Daniel Hannon: he has also called for NHS hospitals to be sold to private US companies after Brexit. It makes you wonder whose side he’s on.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

They’ve already backtracked on their promise not to use a pesticide that kills bees (albeit admittedly in conjunction with other EU countries).

And they’ve cancelled our freedoms to travel to and from EU countries – deliberately making it especially difficult for musicians to work there.

So why shouldn’t the Tories follow Daniel Hannan’s demand and ditch the other protections UK citizens have enjoyed as members of the European Union?

Safeguards for the use of data, pay and conditions, GM foods, hedge funds, dangerous chemicals and the disposal of environmentally-damaging vehicles should all be binned, Daniel Hannan said.

He wants to ditch:

the Temporary Workers’ Directive – which guarantees agency staff receive equal pay and conditions with employees in the same business.

the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – that gives individuals control over their personal data and limits its transfer to other countries.

the ban on products made from genetically modified (GM) crops – potentially allowing US food derived that way into the UK, as part of a future trade deal.

the REACH Directive – to outlaw chemicals linked to health problems including cancer, thyroid disease, hormone disruption and slow development.

the End of Life Vehicles Directive – to achieve environmentally-friendly dismantling and recycling, with targets for the reuse of vehicles and their components.

the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) – introduced to regulate hedge funds and private equity following the 2008 financial crash.

the ‘Droit de suite’ rules – that pay artists a fee on the resale of their works of art, instead of the American ‘first-sale doctrine’ that removes rights from subsequent sales.

“chunks of” the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) – the legal framework to harmonise regulation of securities markets and trading venues.

He doesn’t say how that makes the UK more competitive.

To This Writer’s untutored eye, it seems he just wants to hurt his fellow UK citizens for no very good reason.

His plans would make the country less competitive as they are backward steps that help nobody.

Source: Scrap EU consumer and worker protections now Brexit is completed, leading Tory says | The Independent

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