Tag Archives: trade

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.

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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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‘I’m backing Brexit!’ says Starmer. But will he take his MPs with him?

About face: Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer have performed an astonishing turnabout to support Boris Johnson’s Brexit – even though they don’t have to; it will become law anyway. Why are they insisting on tying Labour into responsibility for it?

Keir Starmer has given us yet another reason to distrust him:

Yes, that’s right. The politician who demanded that Labour pursue a policy that would put the UK through another EU referendum – and that lost the 2019 general election – has performed a complete about-face and was backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal before he had even read it.

That doesn’t seem very “forensic” to This Writer!

Here’s the proof:

That statement was made a matter of hours after Johnson announced that a deal had been reached; he would not have had time to read the 1,200-page agreement and its 800 pages of appendices.

It is impossible for those of us in the know not to say “we told you so”…

But the question now arises: should Labour back Johnson’s deal, that has cost hundreds of billions of pounds and promises nothing more than to make us all worse-off?

And the answer is obvious: no.

The deal will go through; the Conservatives have a very comfortable majority in the House of Commons, thanks to Starmer’s own daft election policy. It doesn’t need Labour’s support.

And of course, Starmer has outed himself as a hypocrite, considering the number of times he has told his MPs to abstain on Tory policies.

It raises once again what has become a perennial question:

Perhaps in an attempt to head off criticism, deputy leader Angela Rayner has tried to say Labour will vote for the deal, but won’t take responsibility for it – and will hold the Tories to account for broken promises:

That is not reasonable. If Labour supports the deal, then Starmer (and Rayner) take as much responsibility for it as Boris Johnson and the Tories. That’s what their vote means:

The plan confirms Starmer’s Labour as pale-blue Conservative cheerleaders:

One criticism that may strike home is that Starmer has turned the House of Commons into an imitation of the Russian Parliament, the Duma, in which the opposition party votes with Vladimir Putin on everything (apparently).

Note that Rayner says that Labour with vote for the agreement “against no deal” – but there is no possibility of that, now. The Conservatives can vote it through without Labour’s help. ‘No deal’, it seems, was nothing more than an invented bogeyman after all – a threat to hang over us so we wouldn’t compare what we are getting with what we are losing.

In Rayner’s case, it seems to have worked.

But will she – and Starmer – take the rest of the Parliamentary Labour Party with them?

Chris Bryant may find it hard, for one, after his comments about Jeremy Corbyn…

Yes indeed. And it seems more trouble is brewing, according to the Telegraph:

A series of Labour MPs are set to revolt against Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to whip the party in support of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal.

Rupa Huq, Kevin Brennan, Neil Coyle, Geraint Davies and Clive Efford were among those who criticised the deal and signalled their refusal to vote for it, according to sources present on [a briefing] call.

It is not clear whether they will vote against the deal or abstain, but who can blame them for rebelling? They’re probably thinking something similar to David Rosenberg:

Depending on what happens and how badly the public take it, This Writer thinks James Foster’s prediction may bed horrifyingly accurate:

Whatever happens, one thing must be made clear:

Keir Starmer knows what he is doing. He should be judged on that basis.

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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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