Category Archives: Trade

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Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.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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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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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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Brexit: EU firms refuse UK deliveries (Vox Political Scrapbook)

So much for the big tory “bonfire of red tape”.

It was a David Cameron project, as was the EU membership referendum of 2016. Cameron succeeded in creating more red tape than any previous UK prime minister, it seems.

Oh, and the bureaucracy that he destroyed? That was saving us from the corruption that is now the hallmark of Boris Johnson’s administration.

A growing number of retailers in the EU have decided they won’t deliver to Britain because of the new costs involved in sending packages after Brexit. Companies have said they are unwilling to register for VAT in the UK, with one Dutch firm calling the red tape “ludicrous”.

Brexit disruption means Sainsbury’s has reportedly lost around 700 product lines in Northern Ireland – where it has been forced to stock goods from Spar. And Marks & Spencer said new trading rules in place since Britain left the EU were delaying deliveries of food to its stores in France – where branches had empty shelves on Tuesday.

Source: Brexit news – live: EU firms refuse UK deliveries as Boris Johnson’s India trade trip scrapped

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Humiliation for Starmer as Labour MPs refuse his call to support Johnson’s bad Brexit deal

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

Keir Starmer stood humiliated in Parliament after his reasons for supporting Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal were ridiculed on all sides, and almost one-fifth of Labour’s MPs rejected his call to join the Tory government in voting for it.

In total, 36 Labour MPs who do not currently have the party whip suspended abstained from voting for the deal. Two more, from whom the party whip is currently suspended – Jeremy Corbyn and Claudia Webbe – also abstained. And Bell Ribeiro-Addy went further, voting against the deal.

Perhaps they all agreed with these words:

He means there was no opportunity to change the deal – it was a matter of taking it or leaving it (“no deal”) so the rights of the UK electorate to have it discussed in a democratic way were trampled.

Mr Corbyn’s decision is particularly embarrassing for Labour’s Chris Bryant, in the light of this:

Do I have to point out the obvious – that Bryant did indeed support Johnson’s deal, and Brexit, while Corbyn did not?

But Bryant’s embarrassment is just a symptom of the about-turn that Labour has made under Keir Starmer:

Starmer himself came badly unstuck when he spoke in the Commons debate on the deal.

It seems his rationale was that any deal is better than no deal at all, But there is a flaw in that argument:

It is indeed a poor excuse, as was pointed out to Starmer by Independent MP Jonathan Edwards:

I am afraid the leader of the Labour party has accepted the spin of the Government that this is a binary choice between deal and no deal. It says a lot about the way his position has changed over recent weeks.

He also made a point of noting that Starmer had turned his back on Corbyn’s pledge that Labour would only support a deal that passed six tests:

He used to have six tests for any Brexit deal that he would be willing to support. How many of those tests does he believe the agreement actually meets?

Starmer could not answer.

It got worse.

David Linden (SNP) said,

If he can point out to me in the Order Paper where I am voting for no deal, I will be very happy. Will he tell me what page that is on?

Starmer could not. He could only make the vain claim that Linden was hoping to avoid the consequences of his “no” vote with the belief that the deal would be passed without his support.

The problem with that is, everybody knew that this would happen. In such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable for MPs to show their disagreement with the legislation by voting against it.

Indeed, a vote that – although positive – shows significant disagreement would leave a message for history that the legislation was controversial. Starmer’s demand for Labour to support it may be seen as an attempt to sabotage that.

Perhaps the knockout blow for Starmer’s credibility came from Theresa May:

She said:

I did listen with some incredulity to what the Leader of the Opposition said. He said he wanted a better deal. In early 2019, there was the opportunity of a better deal on the table, and he voted against it, so I will take no lectures from the Leader of the Opposition on this deal.

May is widely considered to have been the worst UK prime minister since Lord North (a dubious accolade that she inherited from her immediate forerunner, David Cameron). If that is the case, what does it say about Starmer that he allowed her to have the upper hand in this?

Yes. It says that his loyalties lie more with the Conservatives than with the members of his own party – the vast majority of whom wanted the Corbyn-led government that he helped to ensure could never be.

As for the threat of “no deal” – well:

The problems with the deal – and with Keir Starmer’s demand for Labour MPs to support it – were highlighted by Clive Lewis in his speech, most of which he has repeated in this video:

Starmer ended up in the worst of all possible worlds:

Yes, the deal passed, which is what he wanted.

But he was made to look a fool for supporting it and the 39 Labour MPs (with or without the party whip) who did not follow him have emerged as principled, moral … and right.

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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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Sharma bid to BORE us all into ‘no deal’ Brexit fails miserably

Alok Sharma: I’ve cartoonised the pic of him and he’s STILL wearing a sneer on his face!

What kind of preparation do Tory ministers undergo before appearing on the morning media round, spouting their nonsense? Preparation H?

As a friend said to me after Alok Sharma’s humiliation today (December 14): “He’s got to be buttsore after that!”*

Sharma had appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where presenter Nick Robinson listened to his claims that the UK could end up with an Australia-style trade deal with the EU, then delivered a comprehensive shafting:

Now, it is bad enough when a politician fails to answer a question that they could reasonably have expected to come their way.

But when that person then traipses to other studios and fails to answer other questions in the same way, it is a calamity.

So, for example, we had this:

And this:

And this:

(Anybody remember trying to find toilet rolls in supermarkets, back in March and April? That was a fun game, wasn’t it?)

And, indeed, this:

Some have suggested that perhaps Sharma was hoping to send us off to sleep by droning at us…

Despite the fact that Sharma was sent out with a message that all is well and no matter what happens in the trade negotiations with the EU, people here in the UK will be able to get on with their lives as normal, we came away with the following information:

Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is still lying to us about the threat of trading with the EU on WTO rules, by saying it will be an “Australia-style” deal. The Aussies don’t have a deal with the EU.

Business will face the imposition of huge import/export tariffs and Johnson’s Cons are not providing the information they need, if they are to be prepared.

Shoppers can expect the price of their groceries to rise by five per cent and this will be a disaster for people who have a limited budget.

There will be shortages of some products, meaning shops – and shoppers – will try to stockpile them… and this will make the shortages of these products worse.

And…

Alok Sharma is an imbecile.

Some Twitter wits have enjoyed themselves at his expense:

But it’s cold comfort. We all know that, in the end, it is the public who will suffer as a result of Sharma’s incompetence.

Preparation H is a well-known treatment for haemorrhoids.

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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