Tag Archives: trade

Should Northern Ireland split from the UK to end deadlock with the EU and keep Biden happy?

Deadlock: The EU has a trade agreement and couldn’t care less if it harms Boris Johnson. And Joe Biden’s commitment to co-operation with the UK may waver if a solution can’t be found and the Troubles return. What if the Province splits from the UK – for the good of its people?

It makes a nice story on the eve of a G7 summit – especially one taking place in the UK. And that’s what the BBC propagandists want.

But while US President Joe Biden and the UK’s pipsqueak Boris Johnson might agree that trade problems in Northern Ireland due to last year’s UK-EU deal need to be solved, we have no reason to believe they agree on how.

The European Union has no problem with the current situation. All the problems were created by Boris Johnson because he rushed through a trade deal, either without understanding it or without caring what was in it – to meet a deadline he thought he needed to maintain public confidence.

Even the BBC had to admit it:

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised after years of debate and work in December.

“We have a trade deal – it has been painfully discussed for years… if six months later, they say: ‘What we negotiated with you, we don’t know how to respect it’, then that means that nothing is respectable anymore.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the Northern Ireland protocol – the name for the post-Brexit trading rules – was the “only solution” and should be implemented fully.

Biden’s interest dates from the 1990s, when his forerunner Bill Clinton worked with people on all sides of the Northern Ireland question to help bring about the Good Friday Agreement that ended the so-called “Troubles”.

The BBC (again) has already published details of a planned speech in which Biden was set to voice concerns that deadlock on the Northern Ireland Protocol could jeopardise peace in the Province.

Sadly, with Biden taking pains to stress that he is not “warning” the two sides in any way, the EU unwilling to give any ground at all, and Johnson incapable of understanding the complexities involved, it seems there may be “Troubles” ahead once again.

There is a simple way out, of course: Northern Ireland could vote to leave the United Kingdom.

I’m not even suggesting that this means joining the Republic of Ireland.

The simple fact is that the people of this region have suffered terribly because of the “Troubles”. If I was living there, I would be furious that Johnson’s insensitivity has put NI back in the firing line and would be prepared to consider any alternative to prevent it.

And there’s no reason they would want to stay in the union – Johnson has created a situation where they are actually worse-off, the longer they put up with the current situation.

If Northern Ireland quit the UK but did not join the Republic, Biden would be happy; future violence could be averted. The EU would be happy too – it would make trading much simpler.

The only loser would be Boris Johnson. He would become the prime minister who forced the nation to split – and voters are not likely to forgive him for that.

It would be poetic justice. He thought he could get away with any old rubbish. He thought wrong.

Source: G7: UK and US in complete harmony over Northern Ireland – Boris Johnson – BBC News

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After 10 years, the Tories are finally launching their ‘Royal Yacht’ vanity project. They’ll make US pay

Artists impression: this is what someone thought a new Royal Yacht might look like last year, when the cost was going to be £100 million. This year the cost has magically doubled for no reason at all. What do you think we’ll get for that – an extra flagpole?

I’ve been busy over the bank holiday weekend, working on material for the new version of my defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim. So I thought it was a joke when I saw this:

But it’s not a joke:

A new national flagship is to be commissioned by the government in a bid to boost British trade and industry globally, the prime minister has said.

The vessel will be the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was retired in 1997.

The government plans to build the ship in the UK, at a reported cost of £200m.

Tories have been trying to build themselves a new luxury yacht – at our expense – since at least 2012, when Michael Gove suggested spending £60 million on it to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee:

This boat would cost £60 million, apparently – a million for every year she’s been on the throne. It would be a pointless present because, at Her Majesty’s age, she’s hardly going to be able to steer it.

By 2016, the projected cost had nearly doubled:

Now we learn that Conservative MPs want to give the Queen another yacht – at a cost of £100 million that could be better-used elsewhere, perhaps on benefit payments for a further £16,666 sick people for a year.

When [Gove] suggested it, back in January 2012, the cost was said to be £60 million. Why has it nearly doubled in the years since?

At least we have an answer to my question of the time – whether Tories try to spend our money on such unnecessary lavishments habitually.

Yes. Yes they do.

Amazingly, that price had remained static when the possibility was floated yet again in 2020:

The twist this time is a proposal to split funding three ways between businesses, the public and the National Lottery (so the public pays twice).

The idea of boosting trade has been there since Gove, and I addressed it last year:

The point about trade deals is interesting at a time when the Tory government is desperately trying to re-establish the UK as a trading nation after severing ties with the European Union.

But who benefits from such deals?

Rich businesspeople, perhaps – but would they pay their taxes or send the cash to tax havens?

If the latter, then why should the public pay for something that will not help us in the slightest?

And that brings me back to RD Hale’s tweet, pointing out that the government could fund nearly 90 million school meals.

Others have made their point too:

I think it will actually be built this time.

And we’ll end up paying for it while Johnson and his layabouts get to traipse around the world in it and their fat Tory donors profit (with the money going into tax havens, as I mentioned above).

Because Boris Johnson has no shame at all.

POSTSCRIPT: There was another tweet, from a guy who said he donated £20 to the Tory Party and was rewarded with a contract to build the new Royal Yacht for £200 million. I laughed because it was funny and I laughed because, in someone’s case, it’s probably true.

Source: Plans for new national flagship to promote ‘best of British’ – BBC News

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For once, it IS important for us to know that Boris Johnson had affair with Jennifer Arcuri

Johnson and Arcuri: I know there’s no real justification for the image of her in that costume, but if anybody is appalled that she put it on, how do you feel, knowing that HE probably took it off?

Of course I’m not interested in the sex revelations. The thought of bloated Boris Johnson bouncing around on some debutante can only inspire concern for her health (both mental and physical).

But the fact is that between 2012 and 2016 Johnson had the affair with a woman who then received benefits from him, as Mayor of London and later as Prime Minister, that she may not otherwise have had.

The Mirror makes this clear in its “world exclusive”:

Boris Johnson faces an inquiry by the Greater London Authority – responsible for the mayor’s office – over claims his failure to declare his relationship with Arcuri may have been a breach of the Nolan Principles of Public Life, which are contained in the Mayor of London’s code of conduct.

Arcuri was granted access to events at three top level trade missions, despite her businesses not meeting the criteria for the trips.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said there was no evidence he’d committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office but he may have breached the Nolan Principles.

Not only that, but he also handed her £126,000 of public money:

Jennifer… went on to receive £126,000 of taxpayer money in event sponsorships and grants. The bulk, £100,000, came in a government grant in 2019.

Johnson was cleared of impropriety in public office by the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which is tasked with ensuring that the London Mayor’s office does not fall prey to corruption.

The police investigation said that Johnson did not influence decisions to let her go on the three trade junkets or to give her the public money.

But there were serious faults in the inquiry, as This Site pointed out last year:

Why were records relating to this case deleted – what did they cover and when were the deletions made? We may never know, but the questions should be enough to raise suspicion.

Why were some records never made? The report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct remarks on them so it is reasonable to believe that they were necessary. Who was responsible for making these records? What information would they have provided?

Why did the third parties mentioned in the report delay providing their information? What influenced them to inconvenience the investigation and would their information have been different, had they not done so? What was the subject of the information they had been asked to provide?

Possibly most damning is the statement that officers working for Johnson and making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions “thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making”.

It seems those officers were right. As it influenced their decision-making to put Arcuri on trade missions, it seems to This Writer that Johnson had a case to answer after all.

Ah, but the police don’t prosecute senior politicians. Like all fascist dictators, Johnson is above the law.

It’s not good enough. We deserve better answers than we’ve had so far – and Johnson should resign (of course). He never does because he’s an unaccountable fascist, but it is always worth reminding ourselves that he should. Here’s a tweet about it:

The BBC, under its Tory Director-General, has been hiding the story:

Still, there is an upside to it all. At least the satirists are having fun:

Amazingly, Twitter is also filling up with apologists who are still moaning, “But Corbyn..!”

Source: Jennifer Arcuri admits four-year affair with serial love cheat Boris Johnson – Mirror Online

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This is your Tory government: work contracts with ‘hostile’ nations and trade deals with human rights violators

Dominic Raab: his pretty words about human rights mean nothing.

Credit to Dominic Raab for finally admitting that he and everybody else in the Conservative government are immoral scum.

The day after Downing Street admitted its new media briefing room was built by a firm based in a nation hostile to the UK – Russia – he has admitted that his government will seek trade deals with nations whose governments violate the human rights of their citizens.

This is consistent with the Tory Bill currently working its way through Parliament that will strip you of your right to protest against other violations of your rights (or the law) by the Tory government, of course.

If your government is happy to strip you of your human rights, it will be happy to trade with nations that have done the same.

Raab said these countries are the “growth markets” of the future.

He neglected to mention that the reason they may be considered growth markets is because most right-thinking countries would never soil their hands doing deals with such vile creatures.

He also failed to admit that the UK has been reduced to considering such abhorrent activities because his government forced through the country’s departure from the European Union, which has been extremely harmful to everybody but the richest multi-millionaires.

Unbelievably, Raab tried to turn the argument against trading with these monsters on its head:

We don’t junk whole relationships because we’ve got issues – we have a conversation because we want to change the behaviour.

You don’t change the behaviour of others by giving them what they want, though.

And you certainly can’t lead by example when you are forcing your own country to backslide into the same dark-age ignorance as the countries you’re criticising.

Underlying all of this, though, is the fact that your fellow UK citizens voted for this. While our colleagues in Europe and elsewhere hold themselves to the highest standards, the UK voted to grub around in the dirt. And Raab isn’t even the dirtiest grotesquery in the Tory government.

Source: Exclusive: Raab Says UK Wants Trade Deals With Nations That Violate Human Rights | HuffPost UK

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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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Bristol council passes motion to make reparation for slavery. Tories oppose it

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June.

Here’s yet another reason for This Writer to be proud of the city of my birth.

After making controversial history during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, when citizens of Bristol tore down a statue of the slaver Edward Colston and threw it in the docks, the city council has gone a step further.

It has passed a motion to make “reparations” – not just financial but also cultural – for the slave trade in which the city participated and its enduring impact.

As former Lord Mayor Cleo Lake stated, “The contribution of African civilisation, culture and people versus how we have been treated is one of the world’s great paradoxes.”

Bristol is also calling for the UK’s Tory government to set up an all-party parliamentary inquiry to examine how such reparations might be delivered.

This might be a challenging request as although the motion was passed with 47 votes in support, 12 Tory councillors voted against it.

Believe it or not, they said the motion to make amends for an abhorrent past “risks exacerbating some divisions by presenting a binary view of the world when the reality is much more complicated”.

That sounds like doubletalk to This Writer! That is, disapproving speech that is intended to confuse an issue.

I think these Tories simply don’t want to face the reality of Bristol’s – and the UK’s – slave-trading background, with all the harm it has done, or the racism that still pervades this nation as a result.

In opposing the motion, they also opposed community wealth creation strategies to produce more sustainable and equitable growth whilst alleviating systemic poverty, which acknowledges that a just economy is the only way to achieve racial justice.

Typical Tories, you might say.

Source: ‘History is made’ as Bristol passes slavery reparations motion

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

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

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

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

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

It seems possible that this was the intention all along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The BBC explained:

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

The revelations received this response on the social media:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the Belfast Telegraph,

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

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

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

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

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

Wow.

Okay.

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

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

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: 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

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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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.

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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