Tag Archives: extension

Brexit: Where are we now?

Boris Johnson: Metaphorically, it seems his thumb is still stuck well and truly up his rear end.

The story so far (as This Writer understands it):

Boris Johnson has failed in his bid to get the UK to leave the European Union on October 31; the EU has agreed an extension up to January 31, 2020.

Other Conservatives have said that a failure like this would make the Conservatives unelectable and finish them as a political force. His motto, much-quoted, has been “do or die”.

But he wants an election on December 12.

That’s a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it?

Labour – the UK’s principle Opposition party – has said it would welcome a general election, but not until the possibility of a “no deal” Brexit is categorically removed, as that could turn the UK into a tax haven off the coast of mainland Europe and axe citizens’ rights as human beings and workers, along with environmental safeguards. The Tories have denied planning to axe workers’ rights.

But the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have indicated that they would support an election – on December 9.

A motion to hold an election would be put forward under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which means two-thirds of MPs would have to support it. This may be impossible to achieve without support from the Labour Party.

Labour had previously planned to have a vote of “no confidence” in the Conservative government, which would require only a majority of one vote.

It seems the vote is likely to happen at 5.30pm today (October 28). Labour is expected to abstain.

It seems that, if Mr Johnson really wants to break the deadlock, he’ll have to concede a lot more.  But we have to ask ourselves: what is stopping him?

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Ditches remain Johnson-free even though he has caved in and requested Brexit delay

Computer says yes: Boris Johnson had to write his letter calling on the EU to delay Brexit after all.

Despite his show of bravado in Parliament today, it seems clear that Boris Johnson has accepted his legal duty – if reluctantly – and has requested a delay in Brexit from the European Council.

It seems Mr Johnson’s speech in the Commons about refusing to negotiate an extension was wordplay; he doesn’t have to. All he had to do is request it.

He was just trying to sow doubt for the sake of causing upset.

He gave away his real intention in a letter to Conservative MPs, earlier – although one would have had to read between the lines. It seems Mr Johnson has a psychological aversion to making any statement about delaying Brexit.

It’s not another broken promise as it is entirely possible (although unlikely) that Mr Johnson wishes he was dead in a ditch right now.

He has misled us, though – proving once again that we have put an extremely untrustworthy creature into the highest office in the land.

And we can expect more dirty tricks on Monday. He might not be dead in a ditch, but his politics belongs there.

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Don’t believe Juncker – he has no power to stop a Brexit delay if MPs vote for it

Jean-Claude Juncker: Did he say the EU will allow no more delays because he wants to be the president who got Brexit done?

Jean-Claude Juncker would like to go down in history as the President who saw the UK leave the EU, it seems.

He has said that, now a new Brexit delay has been forged with Boris Johnson’s government, no further attempts to prolong the UK’s membership of the bloc will be allowed.

There’s just one problem: he doesn’t have the power to say that.

If the UK petitions for a further delay – possibly to January 31 next year, it will be for the 27 other EU member states to decide, not a president whose term in office is nearly over.

The most Mr Juncker’s outburst can be said to have done is flush out the biases of certain mainstream UK media reporters – if we didn’t already know what they were:

It seems clear that the deal will not win enough support in Parliament. Labour is against it…

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has already spoken up against the deal.

It’s all falling apart around Boris Johnson, just when he hoped it was coming together.

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Daniel Kawczynski’s Brexit appeal to Poland – so much for sovereignty and ‘taking back control’

Daniel Kawczynski: He really wants sovereignty for the UK but seems to have a problem understanding what sovereignty means.

So here’s Daniel Kawczynski: A confirmed Brextremist, he is dead set on the UK regaining its sovereignty on March 29 and making decisions for itself, rather than relying on any of the nations in the European Union.

And here’s the same Daniel Kawczynski – Polish-born Tory MP for Shrewsbury – proudly telling us he’s relying on the Polish Government to impose its will on the UK by preventing us from extending the date of Brexit to a later date; if the UK approves an extension, the EU would have to approve it too – otherwise it couldn’t happen. Here he is:

It’s great to see such a complete absence of self-awareness, isn’t it?

Even better to see so many people enjoying it too. Here‘s Daisy Ecksamania: “This is actively encouraging a foreign power to interfere in UK national affairs, which I would say is tantamount to treason

I love this one – Dr Karen QueueJumper Schafheutle: “Working with a foreign government to subvert the will of the UK parliament. And you put it in a tweet.”

Mike Vine: “We are now at the point where a serving MP openly boasts about working with a foreign government (a pretty extreme right wing one at that) against the interests of this country! Surely there must a word for such activities with associated legal sanctions!”

“The Amazin’ Chris Graylin'” had a new perspective: “Good plan. Could we reach out to France, Germany, Italy, etc as well. In fact, perhaps we could formalise this reaching out with some sort of permanent agreement that all the Euro countries agree to help each other out. Will put it to the PM, this could be a winner.”

London John told us all why he thinks Mr Kawczynski is keen on hard Brexit:

… and Huw Peach told us what happened when he told the public about it: “After I posted the same Private Eye article last summer, Mr Kawczynski asked by DM for my phone no, called me up & shouted at me for about 20 minutes, saying I was bringing politics into the gutter & that I was responsible for him being attacked in

(I’m not giving out my own phone number but I can’t wait for that call. I only hope I’m quick enough to be able to record it all!)

The worst of it is, he clearly doesn’t even understand how he has brought all this ridicule on himself. But we’re back to the self-awareness thing again.

And this is how Brexit happened: Complete lack of self-awareness by Tories.

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A tale of two plans

Both the Labour Party and the Conservatives have unveiled new plans to revive the UK economy, in the wake of last week’s deeply unimpressive Cabinet reshuffle. Let’s take a look at them.

Labour is offering us the impressively-titled ‘Pre-distribution’ – a system which asks employers to pay their staff more money in wages, in order to eliminate the need for the government to take higher taxes and then redistribute the wealth, thereby lessening the huge differences between the benefits enjoyed by the very wealthy and the privations suffered by the very poor.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, announcing the policy, called for firms to be responsible in their attitude to wages, and to focus on the long-term.

He said it would require a major shift in philosophy for the Labour Party, as many redistribution options – for example, increasing tax credits – will not be possible when Labour next returns to power, although redistribution of tax wealth will always be necessary.

He said pre-distribution – a term he has taken from US economist Jacob Hacker – is about lifting the UK away from being a low-wage economy, because this has made us unable to pay our way in the world. We must have higher wages – and therefore our workforce needs higher skills.

In fact, this is just an impressive title for something Labour has already spent a considerable period supporting – the ‘Living Wage’. The idea is that, while the minimum wage went some way towards lifting people out of poverty, it did not finish the job.

Consider workers who do 29 hours a week on minimum wage. They do not qualify for tax credits and the amount they earn may not cover their outgoings. How do they survive?

Under the current government, the only choice is to borrow, if they don’t have savings. So they go to richer family members and ask for a handout (a humiliating experience, made worse if a person is working full-time) or, much worse, they go to loan sharks.

Recent reports have indicated that people working full-time – 37 or more hours a week – are still not earning enough to cover their overheads and are having to do the same.

The current system therefore makes it possible for people to get into phenomenal amounts of debt, and we know that debt is what caused the global credit crisis of 2008. As more and more people go overdrawn, banks will fall into trouble. The amounts might not be as much – individually – but cumulatively they become a problem.

Also, consider the working atmosphere created by the current attitude to wages. Employers have enjoyed wage increases that have multiplied their earnings by – what is it – eight and a half times over the last 30 years. Employees have seen theirs rise by something like 27 per cent – less than the rate of inflation. Therefore their earnings have dropped in real terms, and that’s why we see the problems I have outlined above.

As a result of this, workers become demoralised. What’s the point of going to work for a business where the bosses make out like bandits and the people who actually create the wealth are treated like dirt? As a result, productivity slumps. Of course it does. Where’s the incentive to produce high-quality work at high speed? This leads to a drop in sales as orders fall off due to dissatisfaction. If the trend continues, the company fails. I have seen this happen to a major employer in the town where I live. It has been forced to remodel itself, cutting back and back, but still fell into receivership and may now be under its second new owner within 10 years. The problem for managers is they never decide to cut back on the source of the problem – poor managers who take too much of the profit; they always cut down the workforce, reducing their chance of profitability still further.

This is also what happened with my last employer – a newspaper company that is struggling because it is top-heavy. I left because bosses ignore my advice and went ahead with a plan that I knew would harm sales of the edition where I worked. Sure enough, within a few months it had merged with another edition. The solution from management? Cut down on anything other than management. Ridiculous.

And, by the way, British industrialists: A saving is not a profit. If you cut back one year in order to keep your head above water, what do you do when it doesn’t carry over into the next?

Labour’s alternative would pay workers enough money to have something left over, after they have covered their costs. They will have spending power. This means they will be able to buy more, invest more – they will have breathing space, and a sense of personal worth. From that will come a sense of pride in their work and a feeling that they are valued by their bosses. Productivity improves, as does the quality of the product. Orders increase. The company flourishes and is able to employ more workers. The cycle of growth then repeats itself.

Isn’t that better?

The plan also shows up the Conservatives’ lie that cutting benefits will ‘make work pay’. Forcing people off of a benefit system that doesn’t pay their costs and into a job that doesn’t pay their costs is no solution at all and any Tory who spouts this nonsense in the media is to be mocked and targeted for unseating at the next election (in my opinion).

In contrast, the Conservatives have announced that home owners will be allowed to build large conservatories and extensions without needing planning permission. The Tories hope a home improvements boom will stimulate the economy.

Don’t laugh; they’re serious.

They haven’t realised that this will only benefit those who, firstly, own their houses; secondly, have enough spare cash to pay for what has been described as a “large” extension to their dwelling and; thirdly, want one. Apparently there are around 200,000 applications a year – that’s a drop in the ocean when you live in a country of more than 60 million.

The relaxation of planning rules will only last until 2015, because the Tories want to persuade homeowners to get on and build these extensions as soon as possible – again, failing to realise that we are in the middle of a time of fiscal austerity, which they are enforcing, and we simply don’t have the cash.

Therefore, the solution proposed by the government is for private individuals to borrow more, in order to fund the scheme and pay the builders. Isn’t that what the Tories have been mocking Labour for proposing on a national level – even though Labour isn’t currently proposing that?

Also, what about the 20 per cent VAT that goes on home improvements?

And what about the increased aggro between neighbours, as our quiet leafy suburbs get turned back into construction sites?

So the choice seems to be: Pay workers more, see increased long-term productivity and less concern over debt; or get homeowners to put themselves in debt by borrowing to pay for home improvements they probably don’t need and create a short-term boost in the construction industry.

Which one gets your vote?