Tag Archives: Irish

Johnson’s Brexit is one betrayal after another

Boris Johnson: his Brexit is an insult , even to those of us who voted to leave the EU.

There’s more happening in the UK than Covid-19 and Dominic Cummings.

But the Tories’ mismanagement means none it is good.

Take Brexit: the instant he was shot of the need to pander to the DUP, Boris Johnson threw out all pretence that he was going to demand the same trade and customs conditions in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the UK.

So he is paving the way for the restoration of the Province to the Republic by making it easier for them to align than for NI to stick with the rest of the UK.

As for the trade deal: he has thrown the inexperienced Liz (“cheese!”) Truss into the arena, adding fuel to claims that he is in collusion with hedge fund bosses who want to profit from Brexit by betting that the UK’s economy will collapse.

There was huge outcry about these stories last year – but now Johnson has carte blanche to do what he likes.

A new Brexit border in the Irish Sea will not be ready by Boris Johnson’s end-of-year deadline, according to a new analysis that warns more than 60 administrations, government departments and public bodies will be involved in overseeing the new system.

Ministers finally admitted last week that there would be some checks on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK from next January, when the Brexit transition period comes to an end.

Johnson and others have also refused to consider extending the transition period, despite having no agreement between the EU and Britain over the practical treatment of Northern Ireland and little prospect of a trade deal being in place by the start of 2021.

Source: Johnson’s promised Brexit border in Irish Sea ‘will not be ready in time’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Why is Johnson so popular when he has bungled the coronavirus crisis so badly?


I don’t get it.

A poll out yesterday (April 2) shows that most people believe Boris Johnson and his government have botched their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, endangering lives.

But popularity polls put him and his party at their most popular in years, with more than 50 per cent of people supporting them.

In the name of all that’s decent, why?

And don’t give me the old flannel about the alternative being worse. That’s a false argument; we don’t know that the alternative would be worse and can only judge the situation that we have.

The new poll by Ipsos Mori shows 56 per cent of said the social distancing measures were imposed too late while just four per cent believed they were brought in too soon. A further 35 per cent of respondents said they thought the measures were taken at the right time.

Even so, a majority of those polled said they thought the measures had been effective – while watching death figures increase steadily. This is contradictory; if Johnson brought in the measures too late, then he has endangered lives and they have not been effective.

Other critics are harsher.

“No 10 appears to be enamoured with ‘scientism’ – things that have the cosmetic attributes of science but without its rigour,” wrote Nasim Nicholas Taleb, professor of risk engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and author of The Black Swan, and Yaneer Bar-Ya, president of the New England Complex System Institute.

“Collective safety and systemic risk are the business of the state. Letting a segment of the population die for the sake of the economy is a false dichotomy – aside from the moral repugnance of the idea.” This is a reference to Dominic Cummings’s favoured ‘herd immunity’ idea that was, in fact, unscientific and would have resulted in the deaths of millions of UK citizens.

“Gambling with the lives of citizens is a professional wrongdoing that extends beyond academic mistake; it is a violation of the ethics of governing,” they concluded.

Foreign commentary has been even more unkind.

“Looking across the Irish Sea I find myself thinking surely now, surely the British can see how they’ve been hoodwinked,” wrote Joe Horgan in the Irish Times [boldings mine].

“Boris Johnson is incompetent in a way that is astonishing even to those of us who thought he was a mere showman charlatan.

“Johnson told you one week to carry on, everything would be fine, and the following week to not step outside the door. For a man so fond of wartime imagery there is one that seems to fit him. An image from WW1 that was used to describe British soldiers in the trenches and the generals that ordered them to their deaths. Lions led by donkeys.”

(Led By Donkeys is, coincidentally – or perhaps not – a UK organisation that ran a billboard campaign highlighting the contradictions of Johnson’s, and other Brexiteers’, words on Brexit.)

“Much like those generals, Johnson’s initial idea of herd immunity seemed willing to sacrifice thousands of you only for him to turn around in the middle of no man’s land and run for cover.

“Of all the European leaders he has looked the most out of his depth, the most shallow, and vacuous. These are dark times and rambling verbal buffoonery looks as essentially useless as it essentially is.”

He concluded that he felt the Irish people had been lucky, and: “I dearly hope you, our neighbours, our friends, and our family, on the other side of the Irish Sea, I dearly hope you get lucky too.” Because luck is all that can save us from Johnson’s disastrous policy blunders.

Perhaps most cutting was the New York Times.

“Boris Johnson has spent decades preparing for his lead role, honing his adopted character, perfecting his mannerisms, gauging the reactions to his performance and adjusting it for maximum effect,” wrote Jenni Russell in that publication.

“Now he has the national stage and the rapt audience he always craved… throughout these last weeks as the coronavirus crisis became apparent to everyone in Britain, Mr. Johnson has been indecisive, contradictory, confused and confusing, jovial when he should be grave, muddled when a frightened nation desperately needs him to be clear.

“The man picked for his supposed talents as a great communicator has stumbled his way through news conferences, occasionally hitting with evident relief upon a jolly riff he finds familiar.

“In the rare moments when he has struck the right note, he unerringly hits a jarring one minutes, hours or days later. His switches of strategy and his lack of clarity left far too many Britons oblivious to the importance of social distancing until far too late.

“As the virus spread into Europe in mid-February, an alert prime minister would have taken immediate charge, turbocharging preparations, aware that a possible pandemic posed a grave danger to Britain. Instead, he vanished from public view for 12 days, most of it spent on a private holiday with his pregnant fiancée at a palatial country house.

“It was only at the end of February, with 80,000 known coronavirus cases worldwide and the World Health Organization on the edge of declaring a pandemic, that Mr. Johnson began to wake up. By that time there were 20 confirmed cases and one death in Britain already — and surely many more coming.

“On Feb. 28, after the FTSE index had suffered its biggest one-week fall since 2008, Mr. Johnson finally said the virus was the country’s top priority. Only not enough of a priority, it turned out, for him to start work on it that weekend. He could have convened an immediate meeting of the government’s top emergency committee, Cobra, but he postponed it to Monday, as if the virus’s unseen and exponential spread would also be taking the weekend off.

“The next week Mr. Johnson announced that “we should all basically just go about our normal daily lives’’ so long as we washed our hands for 20 seconds, several times a day. It was advice he immediately undermined by boasting cheerfully that he was still shaking hands, as he had indeed done at a hospital with several virus patients just days before. He did not recommend stopping.

“Two days later, as Italy and Spain were shutting down, pleading for other countries not to repeat their mistakes, Mr. Johnson was explaining jauntily that one of the options for handling the virus was not to close schools or sporting events but to “take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures.” The policy, it was later revealed, was to encourage “herd immunity.” That implied some 40 million people getting ill and another 800,000 ending up in intensive care.

“It was instantly apparent to an aghast public that a creaking, underfunded health service with fewer than 5,000 intensive-care beds; an acute shortage of ventilators, masks, suits and gloves; an inadequate testing capacity; and a disease running free would fall apart just as Italy’s had done.”

Was it? His opinion poll ratings seem to suggest otherwise – in defiance of reason.

““Herd immunity” was quietly reversed. Suddenly restrictions started piling on, but sometimes only as recommendations: 14-day isolations, a warning against pubs, restaurants, theaters; a ban on mass gatherings; school closings. Each day brought new shocks as the government ran to catch up. Each day it acted as if taken by surprise by the virus’s spread.

“Mr. Johnson found it impossible to maintain either consistency or seriousness. He delighted in describing cutting peak death rates as “squashing the sombrero” and declared with verve that we would soon “send coronavirus packing.” He has veered among solemnity, evident boredom and grins, as if his virus briefings were the Boris Johnson Entertainment Show, not the grimmest of necessary broadcasts.

“He said the elderly must be protected from contact, then declared he hoped to visit his mother. Desperate doctors and nurses were warning of imminent disaster, and some of his cabinet were in revolt at his failure to grip the crisis, risk his jolly image and order Britain closed. On Monday, finally, he had to announce that Britain’s lockdown had begun.

“Even then, at this time of profound national fear and disorientation, Mr. Johnson could not speak with gravitas, only with the odd, stagy emphasis of a man pretending while half his mind is elsewhere. His whole political appeal has always rested on his capacity for artful ambiguity, for never necessarily meaning anything he says, for amusing and uplifting people, for avoiding hard facts. It’s what he knows, but not what we need.”

(Apologies to the NYTimes for quoting so much of the article but the facts it contains, and the conclusions it draws, should be drawn to the attention of the UK’s population.)

Given all of these criticisms, it is perhaps unsurprising that Mr Johnson has decided that discretion is the better part of cowardice and is remaining in retreat from the public.

Apparently he still has coronavirus symptoms and is therefore continuing his self-isolation.

Some of us are sceptical, including This Site’s old friend Samuel Miller.

He said Johnson “may stay inside a fridge” – referring to the incident in which our great and illustrious prime minister hid inside a refrigerator to escape having to answer difficult questions.

That’s Boris Johnson for you. That’s the prime minister we elected. A man who spouts nonsense at us and then runs away and hides.

And the people, we’re told, love him for this genocidal stupidity.

In the name of all that’s decent, why?

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Benefit claimants are the modern equivalent of dogs to private landlords, say MPs

Britain’s landlords are living in the past, it seems, with many of them determined to exclude benefit claimants by using the archaic statement “No DSS”.

The DSS to which this refers was the Department of Social Security, which was merged into the Department for Work and Pensions nearly two decades ago, in 2001.

It is symptomatic of an attitude that belongs even further in history, when prospective tenants were put off by the racist slogan, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs.”

Obviously landlords can no longer advertise racism, although one way around that may be the “No DSS” slogan, as racial minorities are still more likely to be on benefits.

And it seems dogs are more desirable than claimants these days:

The Commons work and pensions select committee on Wednesday confronted the director of Your Move, a national online lettings agency, with an advert it published in March for a home in Telford, Shropshire, that read: “No DSS. Small dogs considered.”

More interestingly, the slogan is offensive to almost one-third of the UK population. Perhaps these landlords don’t realise that 20 million people in the UK are currently claiming benefits, according to the DWP.

Derek Thomas MP said [it] amounted to a “hostile environment” for tenants on benefits.

In practise, the exclusion refers to the 889,000 people on Housing Benefit.

Shelter said the “no DSS” practice breached equality law because it disproportionately affects women and people with disabilities. Renters say it means they have less choice, standards are lower and costs higher.

So these landlords are deliberately pushing benefit claimants – most commonly women and people with disabilities – into hardship.

It’s deliberate discrimination – but the only remedy is expensive court action.

Letting agents have said landlords have derogatory preconceptions about people on benefits – that they believe their properties may be damaged in ways depicted on TV shock-documentaries about nightmare tenants.

Worse, the Conservative government’s Universal Credit is a disaster for people on benefits because it deliberately starves them of the funds they need to pay their bills – and landlords interpret this as unreliability on the part of the tenant, rather than the government.

Frank Field, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, said it was possible to recommend new legislation to stop discrimination against benefit claimants.

But how far is that likely to get, when the likes of Christopher Chope and Philip Davies are there to “talk out” any Bills to penalise landlords, from the backbenches?

In fact, with the House of Commons stuffed with MPs who are also landlords, how can anyone hope for positive change?

Source: MPs call on landlords to scrap ‘no DSS’ clauses in rental ads | Society | The Guardian


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Is Theresa May’s latest fudge a bid to pass the poisoned chalice of Brexit on to somebody else?

Misery face: Theresa May wants to wash her hands of Brexit by passing the problems created by her deal onto somebody else. But MPs have an opportunity to make her try again. And again. And again…

Let’s cut through the hot air and fantasy and admit something: the “legally binding” changes to the EU deal that Theresa May just agreed at Strasbourg do not change anything.

She desperately needs to break the impasse that means she cannot get a majority in Parliament for her duff Brexit deal – otherwise the UK crashes out without any deal at all, which may be disastrous for foreign trade.

In practise, this meant finding a way around the Northern Irish border “backstop” deal, set up to ensure that goods crossing the border between that part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland continue to do so in as frictionless a way as possible.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which is propping up Mrs May’s government, has said it will not support any deal that puts Northern Ireland in a different position from the rest of the UK.

So, to try to win back that party’s support, she has secured a “joint statement” in which both the UK and EU commit to replacing the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020.

This is supported by a “joint legally-binding instrument” that the UK could use to prevent the EU from keeping this country tied into the backstop indefinitely.

It isn’t what Parliament told her to get.

She was told to ensure that the backstop would be replaced with “alternative arrangements” immediately, and has failed to achieve this.

Instead, the backstop will remain a part of the deal, but operating until December 2020, rather than for an unspecified period of time.

After that, it seems the UK’s government will be expected to magic up some “alternative arrangements” that haven’t been considered by now.

Mrs May is trying to kick the Brexit can down the road – possibly far enough that she won’t have to pick it up again. It seems she wants to pass the poisoned chalice to someone else.

But she won’t get the chance if Parliament sees through her ploy.

She has deliberately failed.

She deserves absolutely no support when MPs vote on her meagre offer. They should vote to extend the Article 50 “notice of intention to leave” period and order her to stop fudging and get a proper deal.

Of course, the wits of Twitter think she already achieved this:

… Although some disagree [with apologies for the profanity]:

Source: Brexit: ‘Legally binding’ changes to EU deal agreed – BBC News

Tories could be fined 20 million Euros for conference app data breach

Tory despair: This image was originally used to show Tory Brexiters haven’t got a clue. It works equally well to describe their reaction to the app calamity.

Reactions to the Conservative conference app that allows users access to every attendee’s contact details have been appearing online.

As you can imagine, they make uncomfortable reading for Tories.

For instance:

It seems there is no way out of this one. The data breach has been identified and it has been proven that the information is available to anyone.

So what are we to make of the following announcement by Tory chairman Brandon Lewis?

Fixing the barn door after the horse has bolted?

It bodes ill for Mr Lewis, who had a lot riding on this year’s Tory conference, according to the Evening Standard:

Angela Rayner hits the right note here:

That’s extremely relevant when you consider the app malfunction has been…

This turned out to be a popular discussion point:

https://twitter.com/GuitarMoog/status/1046148490114584582

And the conference hasn’t even started yet…

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EU and Ireland leaders slam David Davis for “unacceptable” comments – as predicted by Vox Political

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Brexit Secretary David Davis: The one on the right is a liar, but the one on the left intends to hold him to his word – as does Guy Verhofstadt of the European Union.

It is exactly as Vox Political stated: David Davis has undermined trust in the UK’s sincerity during Brexit negotiations and now the EU27 are halting further developments until cast-iron assurances are provided.

Serves the arrogant, ignorant and flat-out stupid Tory right.

And Guy Verhofstadt isn’t the only one vowing to hold the UK to its obligations: Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said both Ireland and the EU would be holding the UK to the terms of the agreement reached last Friday.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said, “as the Taoiseach indicated on Friday, even if the worse case scenario occurs and there is no final deal, there must still be full alignment north and south under the agreement”.

The … spokesman cited in particular Article 46 which states that: “The commitments and the principles…are made and must be upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.”

It is exactly as This Writer stated, regarding Mr Davis:

They are judging him according to his character: He lied about the ‘impact assessments’ and he reckons Friday’s agreement is a lie as well.

Does anybody remember the saying, “An Englishman’s word is his bond”?

Mr Davis, together with the Conservative government under Theresa May, has put an end to that. Our international reputation is ruined.

And if he thinks anybody is going to sign a trade deal with a government of liars, he’s going to have a very nasty surprise.

The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator has accused David Davis of “undermining trust” with “unacceptable” comments that implied last week’s breakthrough deal was not legally binding.

Guy Verhofstadt lashed out as he revealed MEPs would toughen up their red lines before agreeing that the negotiations can move onto a future trade deal – a development Britain badly wants.

“Remarks by David Davis that phase one deal last week not binding were unhelpful & undermines trust. EP text will now reflect this & insist agreement translated into legal text ASAP,” Mr Verhofstadt tweeted.

Source: Brexit: European Parliament chief condemns ‘unacceptable’ David Davis remarks as backlash grows | The Independent


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Known liar says UK could lie about Brexit deal; what is the EU supposed to think?

[Cartoon: Ben Jennings.]

David Davis really should know when to keep his mouth shut – especially after his own Brexit ‘impact assessments’ debacle and the recent behaviour of his colleague Boris Johnson.

Let us remind ourselves of the disgrace with which Mr Davis has covered himself, courtesy of this video by Peter Stefanovic:

It is clear that Mr Davis lied about the existence of these documents. If anybody wants to split hairs about the difference between an “analysis” and an “assessment”, This Writer would urge them to look up a dictionary definition of both terms and consider whether there really is a huge difference between them.

Now he has said the last-minute agreement on the Irish border, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement between the UK and the EU27 on Brexit is “non-binding”.

According to the BBC: “He stressed that the deal struck by Theresa May on Friday to move to the next phase of talks was a “statement of intent” and not “legally enforceable”.

“Mr Davis has said “full alignment” would apply to the whole of the UK, not just Northern Ireland, but the Sunday Telegraph said Conservative Brexiteers had been reassured that it was “non-binding” and had been included to secure Ireland’s backing for the deal.”

This shows an extraordinary lack of intelligence from Mr Davis.

Only a few weeks ago, his colleague Boris Johnson caused an international incident when he said he believed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching journalism in Iran – confirming the claims of the Iranian authorities who had arrested her (such actions are considered to be ‘soft’ campaigning against the ruling regime there). In fact, she had been on holiday.

Of course the Iranians took Mr Johnson at his word and threatened to double Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s prison term. The imbecilic foreign secretary is in Iran at the time of writing, trying to put right his monumental blunder.

Now Mr Davis has made almost exactly the same kind of blunder – but one that could have far more serious repercussions for everybody in the UK.

And why not?

All they would be doing is judging him according to his character: He lied about the ‘impact assessments’ and he reckons Friday’s agreement is a lie as well.

And he is, after all, the UK minister responsible for Brexit.

The harm to Mr Davis’s reputation is indelible. If you want proof – look at the reaction to his claims about trade deals after Brexit.

He told Andrew Marr that the UK could sign a “Canada plus, plus, plus” trade deal with the European Union “the second after we leave”.

What do we think of that? See for yourself:

We have a Brexit Secretary who has ruined his own reputation with a silly lie – and giggled like a schoolgirl about it when his falsehood was exposed, let’s remember.

He has acted in extremely bad faith and the EU’s negotiators – not to mention the leaders of the other 27 nations – know it.

And he has ruined not only his own reputation but that of the UK internationally.

Still, he won’t be resigning any time soon. Theresa May is too weak to demand it and besides, the stupid Tory government will simply try to hide behind another lie.

Here it is, in fact:

“New sense of optimism?”

New smell of merde, more like!


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