Category Archives: Negotiations

Cost of living: is the Don’t Pay campaign viable or is there a better way?

Take a look at this discussion of the Don’t Pay campaign, that calls for a million people to cancel their Direct Debits to energy firms:

Is it viable? Well…

There are pitfalls.

As I understand it, the suggestion is that you cancel your Direct Debits and make a complaint about the amount to your energy supplier, who cannot then switch off your supply for non-payment while the complaint is ongoing. It is important that you make your complaint direct to the supplier and not to any debt collection agency they may send to you.

According to the narrative, you may be offered a small reduction – but you should not accept it. Instead, you should wait for a letter of “deadlock” – meaning your supplier is saying they can’t come to terms with you.

Then you complain to the Ombudsman. What is not said here – but is apparent from the Ombudsman’s documentation – is that the complaint must be ongoing for at least eight weeks – or your supplier must have signposted you to the Ombudsman – before you can do this. And you must give the company an opportunity to resolve the issue.

Every complaint the Ombudsman receives is said to trigger a charge of £375 (some say £500) to the energy supplier. Strangely, the Ombudsman’s website does not mention the amount it charges.

The idea is that if enough people get to this point in the process, the energy firms will be paying £375 million on complaints alone and may fall into financial difficulties themselves.

However: these are firms that have built up huge profits over the last two years, and it is entirely possible that they could simply wait out any protests; I understand the proportion of customers needed to complain would have to be more than 15 per cent before any real threat to the firms’ viability is registered. That might be too much to ask.

Alternatively, instead of paying Direct Debits, you could instead arrange with your energy supplier simply to pay for what you use each month – meaning your energy firm doesn’t take more than you can pay because you can regulate it. But the tariff may be higher so you could still be out-of-pocket by doing this.

I imagine it would still be possible to make a complaint about the amount being charged via Direct Debit being too high, so you could still go through the Ombudsman process.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media are scaremongering with warnings that energy suppliers may simply get a court order allowing them into people’s homes in order to fit pre-payment meters or cut off the energy supply (although this last option is extremely rare).

Suppliers cannot move anybody to pre-payment if it is not practical – for example, if an illness or disability means a customer would be at risk if their gas or electricity was cut off. This Writer has seen information from a person on Personal Independence Payment whose supplier extended their present tariff until next March.

Suppliers also need to follow clear guidance and make sure they have given adequate notice, time to pay any debts and offered alternatives to being moved on to a pre-payment meter.

So what’s the best thing to do?

From what This Writer has seen so far, the best advice is to get in touch with your energy supplier and simply tell them that you are concerned that you will not be able to pay a Direct Debit if it increases hugely in October or January.

Explain your circumstances because, like the PIP claimant mentioned above, you may be able to negotiate an extension of your current tariff.

Discuss the benefits and pitfalls of every alternative that is available to you. Warn them that you are concerned you may have to take action against them if you cannot come to affordable terms – as a last resort.

And make clear exactly how much (or, realistically, how little) your financial situation is likely to change between now and next January; any payment plan needs to be practical.

Then see what they say before committing to any action that could harm your credit rating.

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Russia-Ukraine peace talks shift to sovereignty and territorial integrity

Not talking yet: but a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war between those two countries is edging closer.

Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia will shift onto subjects of “sovereignty and territorial integrity” after apparent agreement was reached over membership of Nato and nuclear weapons.

It seems the talks will focus on the future of the breakaway Donbas region and ownership of the Crimean peninsula.

According to Sky News,

Russia has claimed its main focus has shifted to taking control of the eastern Donbas region, an apparent pullback from its initial more ambitious goals, but one which is raising fears of a divided Ukraine.

This Writer still cannot see Ukraine accepting that in any way. A split Donbas region won’t solve the problems there.

A better alternative would be to hold referenda among the people there, allowing them to decide whether to be Ukrainian, Russian or independent.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn’t averse to referenda; he has signalled willingness to ask his people whether to declare neutrality and stay out of Nato, in a significant step forward towards peace.

Source: Ukraine willing to consider declaring neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia – Zelenskyy

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Was Vox Political article the blueprint for Russo-Ukrainian peace?

The negotiators: it may look as dull as ditchwater but it seems peace may break out as a result of what has been happening in this room.

Even This Writer can’t seriously make the claim in the headline.

But isn’t it curious that negotiators have come up with a 15-point plan for peace, after This Site published its own naive – I thoughtconcepts of what might work.

The one element that seems to be public knowledge at the time of writing is that Ukraine would give up its bid to join Nato, becoming neutral but able to call on protection from allies like the US, UK and Turkey.

That’s very close to my suggestion that Ukraine remain outside Nato but be able to call on the organisation for protection if its borders were violated – isn’t it?

Perhaps the negotiators could take up my ideas about the breakaway eastern territories and those seized by Russia in 2014 too?

This Writer’s biggest concern is that sanctions imposed by other nations against Russia become a sticking-point in international relations.

Logically, any that have been imposed by the UK will be dropped with indecent speed by Boris Johnson, because he’ll want to restore his funding stream.

But Russia’s claim that Western sanctions against Russia are “aggression and war with economic, political, information means” is a cause for concern.

Sanity may be breaking out between Russia and Ukraine, but is there any hope that it may spread elsewhere as well?

Source: Ukraine war: Reports ’15-point’ peace deal being ‘seriously discussed’ as Putin says he’s ‘ready to talk’ | World News | Sky News

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Nazanin could be coming home – but only because Boris Johnson needs Iranian oil

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman may be released at long last – not because of any breakthrough in negotiations over her, but because Boris Johnson has apparently paid a long-standing debt to Iran in order to gain access to cheap oil.

Once again, with Boris Johnson, it seems the right thing has only happened for the wrong reason.

Johnson ruined Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s chance of release from prison in Iran back in 2018 when, as Foreign Secretary, he stupidly said she had done exactly what the Iranian authorities had jailed her for doing – running a course in journalism. In fact she had been visiting her family.

She has spent five and a half years in prison. Her original five year term ended in March last year but she was immediately charged with a further crime of propaganda activities against the government and jailed for another year on April 26, 2021. So her jail term is nearly spent in any case.

Today (March 15), Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP, Tulip Siddiq, tweeted that her constituent’s passport had been returned to her, suggesting that a return to the UK is likely in the near future.

Sadly, it does not seem that this turn of events has been brought about by any change in the prisoner’s circumstances – or indeed, any negotiations on her behalf by the UK government.

It seems to relate to an alleged £400 million debt incurred by the UK government after an order for military equipment was cancelled because of the revolution in Iran in the late 1970s.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard related this to her case some time ago, saying Iran was refusing to release her until the debt was paid.

Now, reports suggest Boris Johnson has paid up – not to free Nazanin, though, but because the Russo-Ukrainian war means he wants access to cheap oil:

That’s a good question to ask Boris Johnson: “Well, is it?

While we wait for his answer, let’s consider some of his remarks about the case today – in the light of the evidence that he has paid off the debt because he wants oil – not Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe (these are from the BBC report).

Boris Johnson said it would not be sensible to comment “until we’ve got a final result” but said “delicate discussions are going on”.

Obviously he’s not even referring to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe but to whether he’ll secure any cheap oil for the UK. That’s the subject of the “delicate discussions”. Otherwise this comment doesn’t make sense.

You can see corroboration of that interpretation here:

Mr Johnson said he did not want to “tempt fate” and said that negotiations about “all our difficult consular cases have been going on for a long time”.

He didn’t want to discuss Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe individually and couldn’t say more than he did, because there was nothing to say.

Then, pressed on Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe individually, he came out with this classic fluff:

The prime minister added: “Everybody wants Nazanin home, we’ve been working on that for a long, long time, I do not want to do anything to interrupt conversations right now.”

This is a stock phrase that you will hear repeated whenever there is nothing new to say on a subject.

It indicates that all the work has been about securing oil – at whatever cost is necessary – and none of it has been about the UK citizen who has been wrongly jailed for nearly six years.

And the fact that Johnson is still groping for credit tells us he is a despicable excuse for a human being.

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Russia-Ukraine talks resume – and at last they’re discussing PEACE!

The media are still banging the war drums but representatives of Ukraine and Russia were meeting again today (March 14) – and the agenda was a way to restore peace.

According to a BBC report here,

Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podolyak says both sides have now laid out their positions.

Earlier he said the latest talks would focus on establishing a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and security guarantees for Ukraine.

The pundits on Politics Live also mentioned the talks, saying they need to provide a way for Russia to withdraw with dignity, saying it has won something from what its leaders thought would be a walkover but turned into a wreck.

Nobody has talked much about peace possibilities so This Writer hesitates to bring forward suggestions that may seem naive. But we have to start somewhere – right?

So how about this:

  • Ukraine agrees not to join Nato – but to negotiate a special status with that organisation such that, if Ukraine’s borders are violated in the future, Nato would act as an ally and step in. This would provide Russia with the buffer between itself and Nato nations that Vladimir Putin wanted, while offering Ukraine the security that Volodymyr Zelenskyy demands.
  • Ukraine and Russia agree that the breakaway eastern regions hold referenda on their future – possibly a series of votes on whether to remain in Ukraine or become autonomous, and on whether to merge with Russia. All parties to abide by the result. Incursions into these regions by (allegedly Nazi) military or paramilitary groups to cease, with breaches being policed by a coalition of Ukraine and whoever governs the affected region.
  • Ukraine relinquishes any claim on the Crimea (or at least the vast majority of it that is inhabited by Russians.
  • Russia agrees to help repair the damage done to Ukraine by its invasion.

Would that be a good starting-point?

I am concerned that the same official who reported on the talks (above) has tweeted the following unhelpful message:

I don’t see how a discussion of the different countries’ political systems helps deal with the practical matters at issue here.

The questions involve what each country wants and how they can achieve the best compromise that can’t be seen to harm either of them – not whether their politics are good or bad. That is a matter for each nation’s people to decide.

I hope an agreement can be reached but I fear it will be difficult to get past the negotiators’ entrenched opinions.

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Russia-Ukraine: third round of talks begins – but will Johnson try to sabotage them?

Is Boris Johnson Vladimir Putin’s useful idiot? If Johnson announces new sanctions against Russia while that country is holding peace talks with Ukraine, it could provide an excuse for Putin to continue the war.

Russian and Ukrainian diplomats are meeting for a third round of peace talks, amid a wave of propaganda from both sides.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy reckons “there will be judgement” on Russia for its invasion of his country, while Vladimir Putin says Russia would quit Ukraine immediately if Ukraine agrees to demilitarise, and to allow the disputed regions in eastern Ukraine their autonomy.

None of the claims are realistic, and This Writer doubts they will be mentioned when the talks restart at 2pm today (4pm in eastern Europe). The negotiators will be looking for a mutually-acceptable conclusion – not trying to score public relations points.

I don’t think Russia will be prepared to give any ground on the disputed eastern regions that are inhabited by people of Russian ethnicity, who identify with Russia and who have (allegedly?) been persecuted for many years.

Nor will Russia relent on its determination that the Crimea should be acknowledged as a Russian territory. This is not unreasonable as it was only given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in an act of remorse for what he saw as that country’s poor treatment within the USSR.

But the demand for Ukraine to demilitarise is unreasonable. If that country rid itself of all military forces, there would be nothing to stop Russia from rolling straight back in and taking over completely.

And there’s no reason for Ukraine to do as Russia demands; when an invader finds out he can’t win, you don’t offer to make it easier for him.

Realistically, both sides know this. They’ll be seeking a solution that allows them both to walk away with dignity.

Unfortunately, Boris Johnson has decided to hold talks on further sanctions against Russia, at the same time as the peace negotiations are taking place. He started his meeting with the Canadian and Dutch prime ministers at midday and is planning a press conference at 2.50pm – while the Russia-Ukraine talks are taking place.

Will he make an announcement that could upset the peace process? Probably. Johnson is a fool who acts only in what he sees as his own interest.

But what is Johnson’s interest?

Judging by his behaviour so far, his interests lie in prolonging Russia’s war, protecting that country’s interests in the UK, and preventing Ukrainian refugees from gaining asylum here.

An announcement of further sanctions – to be imposed at an undefined point in the future, as far as the UK is concerned – may be just the inflammatory stimulus Russia needs to call off peace talks again.

Bear in mind: it is the timing of the press conference that is contentious. By making an announcement on sanctions while the peace talks are taking place, Johnson is denying Putin and Zelenskyy a chance to come to an agreement.

If they were to make progress, an announcement on sanctions may be unnecessary in any case.

It seems that, by trying to appear proactive, Boris Johnson is simply trying to get in the way.

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Russia-Ukraine: here are some – amazing – reasons to be cheerful

Liz Truss: even though it is unlikely to be serious, we can hope that Putin’s nuclear threat acts as a deterrent that stops her from making stupid, ineffectual threats against a country that could squash the UK like a bug.

The UK’s right-wing media may be doomsaying at an industrial level but the Russia-Ukraine crisis is not as horrifying as they’re saying.

For starters – as This Site and others suggested would happen – Ukraine and Russia are to hold negotiations for peace, at an undisclosed location on the border with Belarus.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin had suggested talks take place in Minsk but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was reluctant to go to a country that had acted as a staging post for the Russian invasion of his country.

It’s a reason to be hopeful, although Mr Zelenskyy said he was not convinced the meeting would have a positive outcome. However:

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he needed to use every opportunity to secure peace.

Bet then – just when some of us were starting to think we could see an end to the crisis – Putin announced that he is putting his country’s nuclear forces on “special alert”.

He said it was because of “aggressive statements” by the West.

It has been widely interpreted as a threat to launch nuclear missiles against western countries. So – an escalation of tensions and we should all be terrified, right?

Well, no.

Mature analysts are saying Putin may now believe he has miscalculated the amount of resistance his forces were likely to meet in Ukraine, along with the response from western nations that have proved more united than he expected.

So he has reached for new ideas – including the nuclear option. The trouble is, nuclear warfare is pointless for him – insane, in fact – because the west would respond by sending its own nuclear arsenal to turn Russia into a radioactive cinder. Mutually Assured Destruction – there’s a reason the acronym is “MAD”.

So – again – it’s unlikely Putin actually means he’s prepared to use nuclear weapons.

That’s a good thing too, isn’t it?

But – there’s always a “but” – it is a serious demand for western nations to tone down their rhetoric, and the West has taken that seriously.

And this brings me to the last of my reasons to be hopeful: It stops Liz Truss from putting her foot in her mouth every time she opens it.

The Queen of Cheese’s latest boneheadedness has been to support calls for UK citizens to go to Ukraine – a move which, if it happened, would almost certainly be seen by Putin as the UK sending troops to that country (despite an official statement from her colleague, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, that this will not take place).

Unable to stop the flow of gibberish from her mouth, Truss claimed that anybody going to Ukraine would be fighting “for democracy”.

It’s exactly the kind of inflammatory talk that is likely to push Putin over the edge and endanger us all.

So we should welcome the decision by western leaders to modify their tone.  Hopefully it means Truss will be told to hold her tongue until the crisis is over.

Source: Ukraine and Russia set to hold negotiations at border with Belarus, says office of President Zelenskyy | World News | Sky News

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Putin has found ANOTHER way to make the West look stupid: talk

Buddies: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping of China. Putin seems keen to go back to the negotiating table after a chat in which Xi reminded him of China’s preference to leave other countries’ borders inviolate and their internal affairs to their governments.

Having almost conquered Ukraine within two days, Russian president Vladimir Putin has found another way to make Nato and the western powers including the UK and USA look stupid: negotiations.

According to Reuters,

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to send a delegation to Minsk for negotiations with representatives of Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Friday after the Russian leader held a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The shift in mood could throw a lifeline to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has always said he knows his country can’t withstand an attack by Russia on its own.

He has had to watch Russian troops move into his capital city of Kiev, despite the heroic efforts of his outnumbered and outgunned military – and armed civilians. This could prevent further violence.

And it’s a good move for Putin because it makes the western jingoists look daft again. They’ve been saying he wants to create a new Soviet Union, starting with an occupation of Ukraine, and a trip to the negotiating table – most likely to secure Ukrainian neutrality so it won’t join Nato – will well and truly end that story.

This Writer is willing to bet he’ll take the disputed eastern territories into Russia as part of the negotiations; he’s in a position of power and will use it. He’ll say it’s what the people there want.

If Zelenskyy agrees to talks, and if we’re all very lucky, the violence could be all over by Monday.*

*All right, that’s highly optimistic. But a phrase reminiscent of “It’ll all be over by Christmas” reminds us all of what we’re risking, doesn’t it?

Source: Putin tells China’s Xi that Russia is ready to talk with Ukraine – Kremlin | Reuters

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Don’t be fooled: Johnson’s Brexit deal is a DISASTER for the UK

Will he call it the “Christmas Eve Agreement” after the day it was reached, or the “New Year’s Eve Agreement” after the day it will be ratified?

Either way, Boris Johnson will try to give his dire Brexit deal a legitimacy it does not deserve by creating an association in our minds with the Good Friday Agreement, which brought huge benefits to the people of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

His Brexit deal does no such thing.

Here’s the reason:

It’s a simple truth, but one that will bear repetition – many times, because Johnson will be pushing his lie for all he’s worth.

While there was certainly much to criticise about the European Union’s demands on the UK when we were a member state, our ability to trade frictionlessly with every other state on the bloc was not part of that and the deal must be, by definition, a huge step backwards.

Just getting to it cost us – that’s you and me, the UK taxpayers, not the Brexiteer businesspeople who sequester their cash in tax havens to avoid being affected, remember – a huge amount of money that the nation could ill afford to lose.

Sadly, not all of us will realise this because they’ll be tranquillised by the Tory-lickspittle press. But some of us do know what it means:

Johnson must know that he can’t fool all the people, all the time – and with trade, which is happening all the time, he must know that people are going to feel the adverse effects of his deal very quickly.

So the smart money reckons he will quit very soon, having achieved what he set out to do:

Other responses have been more satirical. Let’s have a read and a giggle before we get on to the hard facts:

Hm.

Johnson has described the deal as his Christmas present to the UK. Oh dear…

… and now there’s a big war of words about what it all means:

But one thing is for sure:

So, what’s actually in the deal?

Perhaps before we go into the details, we should consider the attitudes adopted by the different sides:

If you enjoyed that bit of Johnsonism, you’d better hope it sustains you when the hardships start to bite.

Here’s a document that summarises the changes in the new, 1,200-page (plus 800 pages of appendices) agreement:

I’ll write them out below and we’ll see what people have had to say about them so far:

Free movement of people

Border checks will be re-imposed between the UK and the EU nations.

Restrictions will be re-imposed on pets travelling between the UK and EU.

Roaming charges will be re-imposed.

Visa-free travel between the UK and EU beyond 90 days’ duration will end.

But visa-free travel up to 90 days may continue. It is the only aspect of this subject heading that remains unchanged.

Work, residence and study in another EU country are now subject to restrictions particular to the new agreement – and they are already controversial, as we shall see shortly.

Trade in goods

Under the new agreement, frictionless trade between the UK and the EU is ended.

Oh, there will be no tariffs or quotas – but the whole purposes of the 2,000-page document is to create barriers that did not exist before January 1, 2021.

The UK will no longer benefit from any of the EU’s international agreements.

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures – to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants – will be re-imposed. It will be interesting to see what they reveal (although let us hope that the find nothing untoward from the UK).

All other matters under this heading will be subject to new bureaucratic procedures – red tape – under the new agreement. Remember years ago, when David Cameron announced a “bonfire of red tape”? It created a huge number of problems as it turned out that those measures were actually necessary – and now Cameron (who demanded the EU referendum) is responsible for much, much more of it:

New customs formalities.

New rules of origin procedures that will check where parts come from.

A new fisheries agreement.

Trade in services

The former financial services passport is abolished.

And there will be no easy recognition of professional qualifications.

That creates more red tape!

Air transport

UK air traffic will no longer be free to travel anywhere within the single aviation area.

And the so-called “fifth freedom” for extra-EU air cargo will be withdrawn from the UK, replaced with new rules in the Brexit deal.

More red tape!

Road transport

The UK is out of the single internal transport market for hauliers. Truckers will need import and export declarations, security declarations and other paperwork for their shipments. New infrastructure is being built at ports to deal with queues and to check loads.

Cross-trade operations will be subject to even more red tape!

Energy

The UK will no longer be part of the single internal energy market.

And energy trading platforms will be subject to yet more red tape!

Access to EU programmes

The UK is out of Erasmus (what’s Erasmus? You’re about to find out!) along with NextGenerationEU and SURE. It will be shut out of the Galileo encrypted military signal.

Did you know the UK was part of any of that?

And access to Horizon Europe (it’s the the European Union’s future framework programme on research and innovation (R&I) for 2021-2027) will be subjected to even more red tape!

There’s another part of this which puts a sinister aspect on the deal, reminiscent of the TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that was stopped because of a “dispute settlement” process that would have given businesses more power than governments.

The UK-EU trade deal includes a dispute settlement mechanism, and both sides will have the right to slap tariffs on the other unilaterally to protect against unfair competition. EU businesses will be able to restrict those in the UK.

That’s a lot of red tape!

It seems the Brexit deal also establishes an organisation for policing the agreements. The joint partnership council has 19 sub-committees and seven working groups. That’s in addition to a Parliamentary partnership assembly, a civil society forum and domestic advisory groups.

I tend to agree with Briefcase Michael’s sarcastic comment: “So it’s goodbye to all that EU bureaucracy!”

And I especially agree with Carole Hawkins who described these red-tape groups as: “Hot air talking shops which will achieve diddly squat as always.”

It might be informative to examine the deal in comparison with what was promised by the organisation Vote Leave, which was the primary motivating force that encouraged more than 17 million UK citizens to support Brexit.

Bear in mind that Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings were the figurehead and mastermind behind Vote Leave, and they ended up running the UK together after the December 2019 general election.

So did they make sure they achieved everything they promised?

That failed comedy double-act? Not a chance!

The website Politico ran an article comparing the bold promises with the bare realities. It listed them as follows:

1. Trade with the EU will be tariff-free and involve minimal bureaucracy

The deal is tariff free for now. But it comes with numerous strings attached and significant bureaucracy. Vote Leave also promised that businesses that do not trade with the single market will not need to follow single market rules… At the very least, Northern Ireland will have to follow single market rules to ensure its land border with Ireland will remain open.

2. Northern Ireland border ‘absolutely unchanged’

The border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is changing. There will be customs procedures for goods crossing the Irish Sea because Northern Ireland will have access to the EU customs union while remaining in the U.K. customs union. That will involve paperwork checks and border control posts (though not physically at the border) to undertake physical checks on some plant and animal products.

3. End supremacy of EU law and the EU’s Court of Justice

Northern Ireland will remain subject to EU customs union and single market rules, which will be overseen by the Court of Justice. So it would be wrong to suggest the entire U.K. will not be subject to judgments from the court.

4. Take back control on immigration and asylum, and cut migration to the tens of thousands

it is still unlikely that the U.K. will cut immigration to the tens of thousands, as Michael Gove promised Brexit would allow it to do.

5. Britain will take back control of its fisheries

Johnson said he wanted talks on EU fishing access to U.K. waters to take place annually… There is a process to get there. It involves a five-and-a-half-year transition, during which the EU will have full access, but the quantity of fish the U.K. can take out of shared waters will increase. Negotiations would be annual after that, and the EU will be able to retaliate with tariffs if the U.K. refuses to grant it access. So it depends on the definition of “control.” The important detail is exactly how much more fish the U.K. will get to take out of shared waters across 100 or so stocks.

6. £350M for the NHS instead of being sent to Brussels

The U.K. net contribution to the EU budget was more like £230 million a week, but Britain has had to spend huge sums on the divorce bill and on preparations for Brexit. The NHS did get a funding boost – but this isn’t as a result of the EU departure.

7. New trade deals, and access to a European trading zone ‘from Iceland to Russia’

The U.K. has so far failed to sign a single brand new trade deal that it did not have as part of EU membership. The U.K. has agreed a tariff-free, quota-free deal, but the customs barriers have increased, it is still subject to numerous EU conditions, and there are still big gaps on services — for example, many business travelers will need work visas. Britain still needs to lock in trading terms for EFTA states Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and complete a free trade agreement with Turkey.

8. Continue cooperating on security issues and counter-terrorism

Both sides will continue to cooperate on security and counter-terrorism — but … the U.K. will no longer have direct, real-time access to EU security databases, such as on passenger records, criminal records, DNA and fingerprints. The deal allows for “ambitious and timely arrangements” to share such data, according to an EU document. The U.K. will continue to observe the European Convention on Human Rights, and could see law enforcement and judicial cooperation cut off if it fails to do so. It will also have to adhere to strict data standards. There will be “cooperation” between Europol and Eurojust, but that will amount to nothing more than what other third countries get when dealing with the EU. However, in other areas, such as the extradition of criminals, the cooperation will be closer than with third countries.

9. Financial protection for farmers who get cash from Brussels

The government will implement a new regime in the years to 2025 that will change the rules for funding farmers in England. Cash will be tied not to the amount of land, as in the EU system, but to whether that land is used for public good. It is unclear whether, in the long run, farmers stand to receive the same amount of money as they do now, as Vote Leave promised.

10. Continued participation in EU science research schemes, deeper cooperation on scientific collaboration, plus increased funding for science

The U.K. is retaining membership of the Horizon Europe program, under which EU states pool funding for science projects. It will also continue to participate in the Euratom Research and Training program, the Copernicus space program and others.

11. Wages will be higher

Even government economic forecasters reckon a deal with the EU will hit UK GDP compared with retaining membership. Some wages in some sectors might increase (customs officials?) but others might even lose their jobs.

12. The union will be stronger

In recent months, repeated polls have shown that Scotland would vote for independence if given another referendum, with Brexit a particular grievance for Scottish National Party voters. The debate is turning to whether Johnson will be able to hold off on granting one if the SNP wins big in Scottish elections in 2021.

Welsh nationalism is on the rise as a result of Johnson’s cack-handed Brexit negotiations, and also due to his failure to control Covid-19. And who can doubt that Northern Ireland will come closer to the Irish Republic after this?

13. Cut VAT on energy bills to save the average household £64 a year

Outside the EU [the UK] can. But Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who also backed Brexit, has not announced that the government will make the change. The promise remains outstanding.

14. Scrap VAT on sanitary products

The EU has long insisted it will scrap VAT on sanitary products but is still yet to do so. Sunak announced in his March budget that it would be scrapped in the U.K. Johnson won a concession from Brussels when he struck the Withdrawal Agreement that the so-called “tampon tax” would not apply to Northern Ireland if it remains in the customs union, which it will. So that’s a checkpoint for Vote Leave.

15. The new treaty should be ready within two years and before the next election (which was May 2020)

Well…

For a snapshot of the way people have responded on particular issues, let’s consider the Erasmus scheme.

Erasmus is an exchange programme that allows UK students to study and work across Europe. More than half the UK students abroad are there as part of the Erasmus scheme.

But Boris Johnson has ended the UK’s involvement in it – after promising to Parliament that this would not happen:

Johnson says he is replacing Erasmus with a new scheme called Turing – after Bletchley Park Omega device solver Alan. Also named after Turing is the test to distinguish human beings from artificial devices created to fake it. One gets the impression Johnson would fail:

Given all of the above, what is one supposed to think of this deal that Boris Johnson claims is so good?

Earlier this month This Site published a piece asking whether Johnson became the figurehead for the Brexit campaign purely to stop the European Union clamping down on the City and its role in money laundering and financial crime across the globe. Was it his intention to preserve the City of London as the financial crime centre of the world’s economy?

What do you think?

Personally, I’m wondering if it’s the first time in history a nation has been asked to celebrate spending a huge amount of time and money on a plan to waste even more time and money – with absolutely no profit in it for us.

What was the point?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Brexit trade talks continue after deadline as UK and EU negotiators appear to change their story

Man in black: why isn’t Johnson wearing a Union Flag facemask, considering von der Leyen has one for the EU? Men in black are traditionally… villains, aren’t they?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Sunday, December 13 the deadline for a post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal, considering the ratification process for all Parliaments?

Suddenly that’s not the story after all. Instead:

The two sides had said Sunday was the deadline for a decision on whether to continue with talks.

They’re making this stuff up as they go – on both sides.

This is what happens when both sides in a confrontation talk tough but know they really need to come to terms.

The UK is facing an economic disaster (that prime minister Boris Johnson may – or may not – be secretly working towards, depending on which rumours you believe).

And the EU has to consider the possibility of political destabilisation that could arise from failure to reach a deal.

And both could be hoping to magic up a public relations miracle in time for Christmas.

Forgive me, but This Writer finds the timing – and the rhetoric – all to be a little… cynical.

Source: Brexit trade talks: UK and EU to ‘go the extra mile’ in effort to agree deal – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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