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Despite coronavirus, videoconferences have been ongoing with the EU with regard to a new trade agreement.

We are at an impasse at the moment, although talks will resume during the first week in June.

Meanwhile, the UK is preparing to negotiate a trade deal with Japan:

On May 19, the Department for International Trade announced a new UK Global Tariff:

The pound rose on the announcement. Trade Secretary Liz Truss, negotiating our post-Brexit trade deals, is pictured:

On May 20, the House of Commons debated the Trade Bill:

She also discussed support for small businesses in this context:

Speaking of small businesses, this man is grateful for emergency government help during the coronavirus crisis from Chancellor for the Exchequer Rishi Sunak:

Other small business owners have reported similar success:

Returning to Brexit, on Monday, May 18, MPs passed the new Immigration Bill.

This short video provides information on the bill, which means that the UK will have the ability to accept immigrants from all over the world:

While the Immigration Bill is good news, the illegal migration across the Channel from France is something that the Home Office must tackle now:

I am not sure why such migrants are not returned to France straightaway. They are entering illegally:

It looks as if the French are aiding and abetting this migration, now done in full daylight. It used to be a night-time operation:

Nigel Farage went out on a fishing boat to film it. He says that the UK coast guard warned everyone on the fishing boat that their vessel would be impounded if they filmed the UK rescuing the dinghy, full of illegals:

You couldn’t make it up.

How can this be happening? Why?

One of the migrants even flips off Farage and the fishermen.

More below. Pett Level is in East Sussex. Dover is in Kent:

Of the YouTube video, Guido Fawkes says (highlights in the original):

This shocking video reveals that the illegal migration trade, which is a multi-million €uro criminal enterprise, is being facilitated by the French Navy. Nigel Farage yesterday videoed evidence of a dangerously over-burdened dinghy being escorted by a French Naval vessel across the English channel until it was out of French waters, where in British waters it was met by what he reports to be a UK border force vessel. This is not a “search and rescue mission”, this is a handover aiding an abetting criminal in the commission of a crime.

What is going on? …

Nigel Farage tells Guido there will be more dynamite footage. The good weather means this is peak time for illegal cross channel migration. Surely an MP should be granted an urgent question to the Home Secretary today?

Except, Parliament was already in Whitsun recess.

Nevertheless, the Home Secretary has urgent questions to answer:

Farage is not the only one to track this migration.

The BBC have done so:

So has investigative reporter Michael Crick, who has shocking figures about the numbers of illegals reaching the Kent coastline. Watch (subtitled):

On Thursday, May 21, Guido Fawkes reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel was talking with 30 Conservative MPs about it:

Guido says that the video conference was polite. Matt Vickers MP (Conservative, Stockton South) can concur. Priti Patel says that she is working with the French, 1,100 illegals have been turned back and that she will legislate against such crossings (third video below):

Guido also contacted the Home Office independently and received the following replies. It appears that this pertains, in some extent, to Brexit. Even so, under the Dublin Regulation, refugees must apply for asylum in the first safe country of arrival (emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

Is the Home Secretary Priti Patel aware of what the border force is doing?

    • The French boat was not escorting the migrant boat. International maritime law prevents border force intervening with boats unless they are expressly invited to. The boats were shadowing the migrant vessel in case it sank and the people needed rescuing. The first duty French and British vessels is to save life at sea. Upon arrival those aboard the boats have to be processed through the asylum system before the Government is legally able to return them.

Has this collaboration been given Ministerial approval?

    • Collaboration is wide of the mark. Priti raises the issue of channel crossings with the French interior minister every time she sees him. Both are committed to stopping it, but have to work within the framework of international law, meaning the work to stop crossings can largely only be done on land not at sea. More will be able to done to deal with boats once they have landed on British shores when the Brexit transition period ends. The Government is keen to reassess the EU’s Dublin convention on asylum application.

Is the French Navy not in breach of EU directives and/or law?

    • The French Navy is following international law. It would be illegal to intervene with the boat. Instead, the navy is committed by law to save lives at sea, and consequently shadows boats that are at risk.

Is this the official or unofficial policy of the French government?

    • The French Government has been working well with the British to stop illegal channel crossings. They do not want to allow crossings as this creates a strong pull factor for more migrants to come across continental Europe to northern France in the hope of crossing too. It is a big domestic political problem for them, and they have been largely successful in clearing migrant camps and patrolling beaches. 100 people were stopped over the weekend. Boats do however slip through the net.

Guido asked why it was the case that the Australians were able to turn back boats uninvited. They do it by breaking international law. It upsets the UN and embroils the Australian Government in a lot of legal trouble with powerful interest groups; it works though…

Also on May 21, Breitbart reported that the Fourmentin, named after a notorious 18th century French pirate who terrorised the English (!), has form in illegal migration: ‘Transponder Data Proves Farage Right on French Handover of Illegals’, having made similar trips of this nature. The Aramis, a former French naval vessel which is now a police vessel, has, too. Good grief.

There must be shady money in these operations. You or I could not take a dinghy out to sea, but these people get a military escort. One law for us and another law for people who aren’t even citizens of France or the UK. We know nothing about them (e.g. criminal records in their home countries) other than that they are male and able bodied. The mind boggles.

Several days ago, a Conservative MP said that over 600,000 immigrants arrived in the UK in 2019. I wonder if the likes of these were included in the count.

Conservative Woman posted an article by John Smith, ‘Farage migrant video shames so-called journalists’. It says, in part (emphases mine):

This is a scandal of epic proportions. More than 1,000 immigrants are known to have arrived in Britain since lockdown began on March 23. Others will have slipped through the net. This is despite Migration Watch’s constant alerts. 

Farage has been chipping away at this issue for weeks. The video is the culmination of a long investigation by him. He has undertaken this work because he believes it badly needs to be exposed for a host of reasons. Not only are these men (he says they are mainly men) probably not refugees (they are economic migrants fleeing the safety of France), but they are breaking the law. We know nothing about them, meaning there is a security risk to our citizens. There is also a public health risk because they may have Covid-19 … 

Farage has done a public service in reporting on this scandal. It’s only May. Think how many more illegal immigrants will try to cross between now and October. Once, newspapers such as the Sunday Times or Daily Mail grasped that their readers cared about this kind of story. Now, they mock those like Farage who do their reporters’ work for them.

This is Farage’s full video, posted on May 21. It includes an interview that LBC (radio) did with Priti Patel:

Just as bad is the £2.9 billion deal the UK government struck with two companies, Serco and Mears, in January 2019 (when Theresa May was PM) to provide housing and support for asylum seekers. Good grief. Why does that cost so much?

Ending on coronavirus, it is a relief that the government now has sufficient testing capacity to extend it to the general population. This is particularly important with the proposed return to school in June for certain pupils:

Looking ahead, once things stabilise after the coronavirus outbreak, hard decisions will need to be taken about aspects of national health care. We are still waiting — ten years on — for the Conservatives’ promised ‘bonfire of the quangos’:

When the military have to sort out logistics for the health system, we have a problem:

Harvesting crops is also an issue. I hope that British farms will recruit British workers wherever possible:

However, this could well be dead in the water:

The article, from May 20, is behind a paywall, but the comments are accessible. They corroborate the article’s author saying that young Britons have applied for these jobs and have been turned down — or not replied to at all. Some farms have turned down those who can work locally and live at home, rather in a six-person mobile home accommodation on the premises.

Excerpts from the article follow:

The narrative goes something like this –

Farmers: “We need workers or the crops will rot”

Her Majesty’s Government: “Then employ British workers”

Farmers: “We tried, you tried, but they just aren’t up to it, the food is going to rot”

HMG: “Oh no, we cannot allow that to happen, open the doors and ship them in” …

The author, Gawain Towler, is suspicious of DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

Some questions recently asked of Defra push towards the idea that the ministry has now decided to side with the farmers and against the views of the majority of the population. They were asked whether the Government had put any system to evaluate the success of the campaign to employ UK workers on the farms, after all there has been a great propaganda push, so surely this will have had an evaluation attached to it.

The answer was that they couldn’t say, because it was commercially sensitive. Nobody had asked about individual farms, but the broad picture – simply how many have been employed. No answer, no system in place to check.

The ministry was also asked about the series of what looks on the surface to be discriminatory measures to discourage British workers. The refusal to allow people to have transport. The demands that they live on site, rather than travel into work, in dormitories for which the workers’ pay. The demand in some cases for an up to three-week training period, to pick fruit

Why does it take three weeks to learn how to pick fruit?

The author concludes:

If the Government is refusing to address these very real concerns, and they are, if they refuse to even have any system in place to discover the efficacy of their schemes, then what are we supposed to think? I, who am still looking for work in the sector, and many thousands like me who have also failed to find work through the system must surely be justified in thinking that they are not serious. Worse still, it looks like the system is deliberately designed to fail.

Yes, it certainly does, even though it would be nice to be proven wrong.

As one can see, there is still much work to be done in Parliament this year, dominated by Brexit and coronavirus.

On Thursday, February 27, 2020, the Government announced that a No Deal Brexit is still being considered.

It should be noted that the Government does not use the words ‘No Deal’ anymore. However, for the sake of simplicity, I will continue to do so.

Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, took questions in the Commons yesterday, principally on trade talks with the EU:

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, was meeting with Robert Lighthizer, trade representative from the United States that day.

On February 26, an article in The Telegraph (paywall) said that the parameters of negotiations between the EU and the UK have been changing. The Guardian has an excerpt from the article, further excerpted below (emphases mine):

Earlier this month, Mr Johnson said “early progress” on agreements over financial services and personal data protection would be “a test of the constructive nature of the negotiating process”.

But pledges in the political declaration to reach an agreement on financial services by June 2020, and on data by the end of December, were dropped by Brussels when the EU’s negotiating mandate was published.

Government sources said that meant Mr Johnson was fully entitled to ignore elements of the political declaration. Britain will refuse to sign up to EU rules on state aid, and will not build any infrastructure to deal with customs declarations on goods crossing from the mainland to Northern Ireland despite EU demands that they must exist.

Yesterday (Thursday), Michael Gove announced the publication of a new, 30-page document, The Future Relationship with the EU: The UK’s Approach to Negotiations.

Left-leaning politicians and pundits are dismayed and critical, however, it appears to be consistent with what Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government have been saying since last year:

– Michael Gove confirmed that the UK will not be under the control of the EU Court of Justice when implementing state aid.

– The Government could walk away from talks with the EU as early as June, if they are not productive. If so, at that point, the Government would focus on domestic arrangements to leave the EU in an orderly manner as possible.

– There is particular concentration on the part of the UK to avoid any alignment with or subjugation to the EU or EU institutions, especially the EU Court of Justice.

The last point is critical when it comes to the EU Arrest Warrant. The Guardian reported this exchange in Parliament (emphases in the original):

Gove was vague when discussing the forthcoming customs arrangements in Northern Ireland, so, no change there.

This was EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s response to the UK’s new document:

The Guardian reported that another EU official said that the planned June reassessment of talks is in line with the EU’s expectations (emphases in purple mine):

Responding to the government’s announcement that it may abandon trade talks with the EU if there is not enough progress by June, the European commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant told reporters at a briefing:

In relation to any timeline that was referred to by the UK side today, there is a mid-year rendezvous in June to assess where we are with the negotiations.

So this is probably a very fair timeline to take by the UK prime minister for a rendezvous in which we take stock of the future and chances for a deal, what type of deal.

Asked whether the EU was preparing for the failure to reach a deal, she said it would be “premature to speculate” about the result of those negotiations.

The following Twitter thread, excerpted, comes from the man who heads the Eurasia Group consultancy. He also teaches at the prestigious Sciences Po. His analyses have been quite reliable, so far. ‘Bxl’ means Brussels:

David GH Frost is one of Boris Johnson’s chief advisers:

As anticipated, there will not be enough time to negotiate specific, line-by-line agreements:

It is unclear at this time how damaging this will be to the future of the European Union:

He concludes that the UK will have to align with another nation.

We’ll see what happens.

Ultimately, the UK would like to finalise a deal by September 2020.

Six weeks on after the general election of December 12, 2019, the Labour Party fail to understand why they performed so poorly.

Theirs was the party’s biggest election loss since 1935. Many constituencies in the north of England voted Conservative either for the first time or for the first time in decades.

Labour said they would enter a period of reflection to decide their way forward in their leadership election, the campaign for which is now underway. Voting takes place in April.

Ian Murray is a candidate for deputy leader:

At the weekend, there were two interesting Twitter exchanges with Conservatives. Their 80-seat majority gives a clear indication of the way voters want the nation to go: get Brexit done and improve the country.

But some Labourites are still angry.

Pat Glass is the former Labour MP for North West Durham. Judging by what you read below, you would think she lost to a young, brand new Conservative MP, Richard Holden, in December. However, she had already stood down for the 2017 general election.

Laura Pidcock, her successor, lost to Richard Holden in 2019.

Dehenna Davison is a new, energetic Conservative MP for neighbouring Bishop Auckland.

This is how the Twitter threads went. Pat Glass started them:

Richard Holden replied about the glaring inaccuracies in Glass’s tweet:

The Chief Executive of Conservative Home chimed in:

Then there were these tweets:

The blocking caused confusion:

If other former Labour MPs are following this approach, it’s hardly going to win voters back:

Just as well, really:

As you were, Labour. Carry on with the self-destruction.

One week ago on Friday, January 31, 2020, millions of Britons celebrated Brexit Day.

David Kurten, Brexit Party member of the Greater London Assembly, tweeted:

James Higham of Orphans of Liberty called our attention to the fact, that despite our celebrations, little has changed. We’re merely in a transition period, not full Brexit. To those celebrating, he wrote:

That’s the majority view, everyone on our side so wants it to be true, when it quite palpably is not:

# Still in the Customs Union
# Still in the Single Market
# Still only a small percentage of our fishing waters
# Still in the EU Army and no plans to leave
# Still paying the EU billions to prop them up to keep fighting us …

Agree fully on all points!

Still, it was worth celebrating getting even this far against the Remainers in our own country and in the EU:

On the morning of January 31, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) gave a press conference in which she restated both her opposition to Brexit and her goal of holding another referendum for Scottish independence. The last one was held in 2014.

I fully agree with becabob’s tweet below the Daily Record‘s front page and have often expressed the same thought to my friends:

EU leaders also made speeches to representatives from the media. David Sassoli, the Italian President of the EU Parliament, lamented the criticism heaped upon the European Union. He said that he was referring to people on the Continent — not the British — and said that could not understand it.

Sassoli went on to say that the EU ‘rules’ and ‘regulations’ were in place to prevent ‘the strong’ overtaking ‘the weak’.

I wonder. Outside of MEPs, voters in EU member states have no voice over senior EU bureaucrats appointed to their various positions. They’re an unelected elite who tell MEPs how to vote. The EU Parliament essentially rubber stamps whatever legislation they are told to approve.

Moving along, the EU removed the British flag from their premises in Brussels:

Hear the cheers in a British sports bar as it happened:

The EU’s Guy Verhofstadt, an arch-enemy of Brexit, posted a video from the Alliance Party in Europe:

Meanwhile, television broadcasters were upset that Boris had a No. 10 team film his exit statement to the nation. Normally, that would have been done by one of the main channels, with permission given to the others to air it. On January 30, The Express reported:

The BBC has warned it might not air the message, which is understood to be a fireside chat.

A spokesman said: “There is a long-established process for recording statements by the Prime Minister at significant times where one broadcaster records it and shares the footage.

“The BBC and the other broadcasters are well used to following this usual process, which respects our independence as broadcasters.

“If Number 10 wants to supply its own footage we will judge it on its news value when deciding whether to broadcast it, as we would with any footage supplied to us by third parties.”

Mr Johnson’s address is one of a number of celebrations to mark Brexit day.

Government buildings in Whitehall will be lit up in red, white and blue, while Parliament Square and Pall Mall will be decorated with British flags.

On a happier note, the Prime Minister’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds posted a photo of Dilyn, their rescue dog from Wales:

That evening, Russia Today was the only media outlet to film Brexit Night for four hours:

At 10 p.m. the BBC, Sky News and ITV broadcast news programmes which lasted until 11:15 p.m. I watched ITV, and I’m glad, because the BBC and Sky gave little coverage of Leavers and, instead, focussed on Remainers.

ITV showed Cabinet members approaching No. 10 for a quiet party that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was throwing for them, his staff and other friends of Brexit, e.g. former Labour Party MP Gisela Stuart.

Just as the newsreader was about to announce who was going in — around 10:06 p.m. — the television played up. It was time to retune the channels, which was aggravating, as we missed the next five minutes of coverage. This is an important detail, more about which below.

ITV showed us coverage of the big party at the rugby club in Morley, which is just outside of Leeds in West Yorkshire:

Happily, ITV showed the fireworks display on their rugby pitch. They were probably the only municipality to have one.

Andrea Jenkyns MP helped to organise the event, which was packed, and probably arranged for permission for the firework display. Fireworks are now officially banned for the year until November 5.

This was the scene in Morley earlier in the day (the Twitter thread has great tweets):

The BBC chose a different locale, Boston in Lincolnshire, for their coverage:

They sang Auld Lang Syne at 11 p.m.:

In the southeast — in Kent — this was the scene at 11:00 p.m. along the famous white cliffs of Dover. This is a lovely little video:

In Brussels, the buildings in the historic centre of the city were illuminated beautifully. Thank you:

In London’s Parliament Square, thousands gathered for the countdown, including former Labour MP for Vauxhall Kate Hoey, an ardent supporter of Brexit:

Earlier, Kate Hoey gave an interview to Sky News:

Returning to Parliament Square, the chap in the middle has been campaigning in Parliament Square for the past few years. As far as I know, he did it without pay and, unlike his Remainer counterpart Steve Bray, never brayed about Brexit, but greeted passers-by instead. Anyone who wanted to talk about Brexit with him could do so:

Steve Bray, who continually ruined many live broadcasts from No. 10, says he will continue braying. Shameful. He was paid £80 a day, he said, to shout all the time. It’s a wonder he has a voice box left:

Here’s a nice ‘pan’ of those in Parliament Square:

This was the big moment in Parliament Square. Thanks to America’s OANN for capturing the atmosphere in their video:

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage was on hand to address the crowd:

The Houses of Parliament looked stunning:

The Department for Exiting the EU formally closed:

Steve Barclay MP formally resigned his position in that department:

Now on to No. 10 Downing Street, the scene of Boris’s subdued party (click photo to read the full article):

Recall that, at the beginning of this post, I mentioned that the television required retuning. No one inside No. 10 was aware of that. Unfortunately, when the big moment came and Boris had intended for everyone to watch the countdown televisually, he had to make do with banging a small gong instead.

I don’t know if any of the nation’s broadcasters showed Boris’s address to the nation at 10 p.m. that night. I tuned in to ITV around 10:05.

Here it is in full:

He aptly and congenially explains that a) he understands that not everyone supports Brexit, b) outlines the next ‘act’ in this continuing ‘drama’ and c) tells us why leaving the EU is the ‘healthy and democratic’ thing to do, referring to the referendum result from 2016.

I am really looking forward to the months ahead. I believe that Boris, flawed though he is (aren’t we all?), will be making history in all the best ways for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

A little over a year ago, in January 2019, this was the state of play with Brexit. Theresa May was Prime Minister and Parliament was in rebellion:

That was around the time I began watching BBC Parliament in earnest. I went from being an occasional viewer to a regular one over the next several months.

With Boris Johnson’s clear victory for the Conservative Party in December that year, ‘Get Brexit Done’ became a reality.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 was Britain’s last day in the EU Parliament. I watched the debate on the Brexit bill, which went up for the definitive vote that afternoon.

Earlier that day, then-Brexit Party MEP Nigel Farage tweeted that he was ready:

A Dutchwoman offered her support:

That afternoon, Farage — the man who strove so diligently for 25 years to get the UK out of the EU — gave his final speech as an MEP:

When he finished, he and the other Brexit Party MEPs waved small Union flags:

Mairead (‘Mary’) McGuinness, the Irish minister presiding over the session as the EU Parliament’s First Vice-President, told them in no uncertain terms to ‘please remove the flags’. (MEPs are no longer allowed to display national flags in the EU Parliament.)

Farage retorted, ‘That’s it. It’s all over. Finished.’ The Brexit Party MEPs, the largest British bloc, gave their party leader a standing ovation.

McGuinness quickly attempted to regain control: ‘Please sit down’, followed by ‘Please take your flags with you — if you are leaving now’. With that, the Brexit Party MEPs left the chamber.

The debate included a tearful farewell from a Green MEP and an angry one from a Liberal Democrat MEP. They received standing ovations and hugs from their colleagues.

The brightest moment came when Jaak Madison, a Eurosceptic MEP from Estonia stood to speak. This is an excellent video. He supports Britain and also warns the EU not to be complacent when it comes to the economy:

One Briton clearly appreciated Madison’s speech:

The week before, Madison tweeted that the Remain camp had lied to the people:

He, quite rightly, cannot understand how anyone could support communism and made it clear on January 15 by recapping 20th century Polish history:

When the Conservative Party dominated the election on December 12, 2019, he was delighted:

Last October, Madison was eager for Britain to leave the EU by the then-October 31 deadline.

Before Boris got his new deal, Madison said that the EU’s ‘antics’ were driving Britain further and further away:

I’m posting this video of his, because MEPs were, at that time, allowed to display their national flags:

But I digress!

When it came time for MEPs to vote on January 29, 13 abstained (Brexit Party). The result was clear:

MEPs then held hands and sang all three verses of a famous farewell song to their British counterparts:

Some MEPs held up large red, blue and white scarves which read ‘United in Diversity’ and ‘Always United’:

Farage met with the media outside the EU Parliament. The lady with him is Ann Widdecombe, who was a long-serving Conservative MP before she was elected as a Brexit Party MEP last year:

He later broadcast his LBC radio show from Brussels. The whole show is available in the tweet:

The SNP (Scottish National Party) MEPs, meanwhile, were morose:

The replies to the tweet display the ongoing tension in the UK:

That subsidy is called the Barnett formula. The English pay Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a subsidy. We should get rid of it. They have had devolved governments for several years now. As such, they should be able to fend for themselves.

One thing that struck me about the MEPs during the debate was exemplified by one of the senior ministers who spoke. He said that European citizenship takes priority over national citizenship. A majority of the British public believes the exact opposite.

In London the following day, Conservative MP Peter Bone, who has also wanted Britain out of the EU for nearly 30 years, gave a speech in the House of Commons. He was an MP during the early 1990s when John Major was Prime Minister and told his fellow Parliamentarians that Major actively disapproved of his anti-EU sentiment. (Major signed the Maastricht Treaty). Bone ended his speech by proposing a national holiday to mark Brexit. He suggested that it fall near the time of the 2016 referendum, held on June 23:

The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, politely dismissed the proposal, which he termed ‘republican’ (anti-monarchy). Rees-Mogg, who is probably the foremost Commons authority on how our unwritten constitution works, said that our national holidays honour the monarch, not the Union.

Oh, well. It was worth a try.

Returning to Brussels, one might wonder if English will still be spoken, seeing as nearly everyone there speaks the language.

It will, but Irish English will be the working language. On Tuesday, February 4, Wurst.lu reported (emphases mine):

The change, effective immediately, was announced on Monday by European Commission president Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, who says the unity of the 27 remaining countries is “grand” despite Brexit and the years of the UK “foostering about.” 

The British are just after leaving, and fair play to them for getting what they wanted,” she said. “They’ve been part of this union for donkey’s years, so I amn’t saying that we won’t miss them.”

“But we’ll be needing an English that’s more reflective of what now be our biggest English-speaking country, the Republic of Ireland,” she continued. “Starting today, all of yous will switch to Hiberno-English for all meetings and the drafting of documents, translations, and the like.”

The difference can be seen in a statement that was published on the EU homepage in late January, which referred to the UK leader as “Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” but by Feb.1 the words had been changed to “your man.”

All of those terms are straight out of the pub and, from my experience in working with the Irish, are not used in formal discourse.

Oh, dear.

The EU’s standards continue to slip. I’m so happy we’re in the transition phase now.

Time has not permitted me to post anything about last week’s Brexit adieu in the EU Parliament, nor scenes from Brexit Day.

However, on Monday, February 3, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out his stall on the future of the United Kingdom by giving a half-hour speech in the magnificent Painted Hall at the Old Royal Navy College in Greenwich, just to the east of London.

The media were in attendance. It was a splendid speech, recapping the history of this venue, which Sir James Thornhill began painting in 1707, the year of union between England and Scotland. I will go into the cause of that union, the Darien Scheme, at a later date. (Spoiler alert: Scotland came begging, cap in hand.)

Boris did not mention the Darien Scheme, which is probably just as well, seeing as Scotland’s SNP MPs are talking non-stop about another referendum among their people for independence. The last one took place in 2014.

Boris did talk about Britain’s advanced workers’ rights, which go far further than the EU’s, e.g. maternity and paternity leave. Carbon emissions targets are another area in which we surpass the EU, having given ourselves a deadline. He talks about trade possibilities and how Britain can develop once more outside of the EU.

Without further ado, this is Boris Johnson in full flow on Britain’s history and achievements over the centuries. Press questions, which weren’t very interesting, come in the last 20 minutes, so you can ignore those:

I particularly commend this video to those who think our Prime Minister is a buffoon.

Boris is a keen historian and takes one on a journey in this speech. His journalistic skills come forward in the occasional vocabulary word that demands a dictionary. Even better for Britons at this crucial juncture in recovering happiness as a nation, his enthusiasm about the future is infectious.

I wish him all the best in taking us forward.

It is tempting to refer to the day the UK is leaving the EU as an active partner as Brexmas.

The Sun coined the name during the 2019 election period in the run-up to Christmas. Today, however — the day it will actually take place — feels more like Brexmas to me.

That said, the suffix ‘-mas’ is an ancient one referring to a Mass being said on an important feast day, e.g. Christmas and Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael (September 29).

The Wikipedia entry on Mass explains how the word entered common parlance centuries ago. From there, ‘-mas’ was used for certain feast days:

The English noun mass is derived from Middle Latin missa. The Latin word was adopted in Old English as mæsse (via a Vulgar Latin form *messa), and was sometimes glossed as sendnes (i.e. ‘a sending, dismission’).[8] The Latin term missa itself was in use by the 6th century.[9] It is most likely derived from the concluding formula Ite, missa est (“Go; the dismissal is made”); missa here is a Late Latin substantive corresponding to classical missio.

Historically, however, there have been other explanations of the noun missa, i.e. as not derived from the formula ite, missa est. Fortescue (1910) cites older, “fanciful” etymological explanations, notably a latinization of Hebrew matzâh (מַצָּה) “unleavened bread; oblation”, a derivation favoured in the 16th century by Reuchlin and Luther, or Greek μύησις “initiation”, or even Germanic mese “assembly”.[10] The French historian Du Cange in 1678 reported “various opinions on the origin” of the noun missa “mass”, including the derivation from Hebrew matzah (Missah, id est, oblatio), here attributed to Caesar Baronius. The Hebrew derivation is learned speculation from 16th-century philology; medieval authorities did derive the noun missa from the verb mittere, but not in connection with the formula ite, missa est.[11] Thus, De divinis officiis (9th century[12]) explains the word as a mittendo, quod nos mittat ad Deo (“from ‘sending’, that which sends us towards God”),[13] while Rupert of Deutz (early 12th century) derives it from a “dismissal” of the “enmities which had been between God and men” (inimicitiarum quæ erant inter Deum et homines).[14]

But I digress!

This is how the week unfolded rather quietly — considering that, at 11 p.m. GMT (12 a.m. on the Continent), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will become a non-participative member of the EU until our transition period is complete. We hope that will be at the end of December 2020.

Boris answers burning Brexit questions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made time to answer several Brexit questions from the British public. This short video is as factual as it is entertaining.

Please watch:

British MEPs leave Brussels

The last British MEP (Member of the European Parliament) to attend an EU Council meeting was Chris Pincher on Tuesday, January 28:

Nigel Farage cleared his office:

On Wednesday, January 29, political pundit Guido Fawkes posted a run-down of the closing days of British MEPs’ participation, ‘The Final Day of Brexit’. They got one final vote that day, on the Withdrawal Agreement (emphases in the original):

Most importantly, MEPs will formally approve the Withdrawal Agreement this afternoon, marking the final legal hoop needed to jump through to secure Brexit on Friday. Remain MEPs will vote against the deal, failing to understand they’re voting in favour of a no-deal exit…

MEPs’ final day in Brussels will seemingly be occupied by a lot of singing; with a Green Party MEP planning to encourage a rendition of Auld Lang Syne after British MEPs’ final vote, socialist MEPs meeting up for a family picture and a rendition of the EU’s ‘anthem’, and MEP Magid Magid hosting a party in the Place du Luxembourg featuring live music and DJs. No word on whether, given it’s their last day, MEPs will be signing each other’s shirts…

The vote took place in the early evening:

The week before, the president of the European Council and the president of the European Commission signed the UK Withdrawal Agreement for the EU …

… and Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed it for the UK …

… therefore, it was recommended that the EU Parliament approve the Withdrawal Agreement:

Guy Verhofstadt’s tweets

Over the past week, Guy Verhofstadt has tweeted about our exit. He is keeping the door open for our return.

I’ve also included a few replies to his tweets:

He waxed sentimental over a Liberal Democrat MEP:

Michel Barnier visits the Emerald Isle

The UK’s chief negotiator representing the EU, Michel Barnier, spent Monday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

He visited Dublin first …

… then travelled north to Belfast:

Perhaps now is the moment to remind everyone that we will always be European. Our beef is with Brussels:

UK to become economic powerhouse?

According to The Express (article link in tweet), Barnier is worried that we could become an economic powerhouse, threatening the prosperity of EU member countries. British commenters say that he has only himself to blame:

Signs look good, at least at this juncture, particularly since the election on December 12:

Going back to Tuesday, January 21, The Express cited findings from the IMF at the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Provided our negotiations go well this year (emphasis in the original):

BRITAIN’S economy is set to power ahead after Brexit, outpacing the eurozone and other major European countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

The findings of two studies published by the the body show the UK is on track for two years of growth and is anticipated to outperform Germany, France and Italy. The economy is expected to expand by 1.4 percent this year and by 1.5 percent in 2021, it said. It marks an optimistic outlook for the UK’s post-Brexit future after last year’s growth was recorded at 1.3 percent.

Celebrations in the UK

Celebrations will be very low-key on January 31.

Big Ben silent

Unfortunately, Big Ben will not be bonging to mark our Brexit.

The historic bell is under renovation at present and unnamed ‘Parliamentary officials’ said it would cost £500,000. Boris and Conservative MP Mark Francois urged the public to stump up with private contributions. This they promptly did, raising £272,000. That still was not enough — I detect overall resistance from our notional betters here — so the money is going to the veteran’s charity, Help for Heroes:

Lights and Union flags in London

On January 22, Guido Fawkes posted the government’s plans to mark Brexit Night in central London (emphases in the original):

The Government has already announced its official plans to commemorate Britain leaving the EU at 11pm on 31st January, however a new victory has been won after minister Nigel Adams signed off on the Union Jack being flown down the Mall to celebrate Brexit. Her Majesty will be delighted given her support for the cause

In addition to the Union Jack flying in Parliament Square, a light display in Downing Street and a countdown clock being projected against No. 10, new intake Tory MP, Dehenna Davison, has spoken of her delight at securing the victory, saying “After discussing this with the Minister multiple times over the past few weeks, I am delighted that he has today instructed officials to ensure the Union Jack is flown down the Mall on Brexit Day”, also highlighting the minimal cost to the taxpayer from the move. Unlike getting Big Ben to bong again…

The flags went up on January 28:

British flags will be flown in Parliament Square.

A red, white and blue light display is expected to be shone on Westminster Palace.

The No. 10 digital countdown clock will be illumined in Downing Street.

New 50p coin

The new 50p commemorative Brexit coin, which was ready for our predicted exit on October 31, 2019, had to be melted down. That was quite expensive.

However, they have been reminted and began appearing this week:

More will appear beginning in March.

The text on the reverse of the coin includes the date January 31, 2020 and reads as follows:

A number of Remainers have tweeted their disapproval and said they would not accept them as change.

Radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer of TalkRADIO gave her own riposte to diehard Remainers pining for Brussels. Priceless:

Brexit Party celebration

The Brexit Party is holding a special celebration in Parliament Square between 9 and 11:15 p.m. All are welcome:

Brexit merchandise

There are at least three different types of Brexit-related merchandise on sale now.

Forman’s smoked salmon

Lance Forman was a Brexit Party MEP then switched to the Conservative Party before December’s election.

In real life, he runs his family’s smoked fish business in East London, best known for smoked Scottish salmon. I have eaten Forman’s fish before and it is excellent. His Brexit offer runs until February 29:

T-shirts

Leave.EU are selling commemorative Brexit t-shirts. Wear at your own risk.

They also have mugs:

Tea towel

The Conservative Party is offering a special tea towel with Boris’s election slogan, ‘Get Brexit done’, in past tense:

————————————————————————-

Whatever way my fellow Britons choose to celebrate Brexit Day, I hope they have fun!

I will continue Brexit Chronicles until we are fully out of the EU.

Boris Johnson issued a brief but rousing address to the nation on New Year’s Eve.

He looks forward to an ‘exhilarating decade’ ahead as we enter the 2020s:

People admire his enthusiasm, gumption and optimism, so lacking in the past few Prime Ministers — and Britain as a whole.

I wish him all the best as he attempts to unite the nation, particularly post-Brexit.

I am also pleased that protecting Christians is on his agenda, dating back to his days as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May. The following tweet is from last July, when the Conservative leadership race was going on:

He also mentioned the subject in his first Christmas address to the nation, which is more than the Archbishop of Canterbury managed in his New Year’s greeting.

May God bless our Prime Minister in 2020!

Happy New Year!

Happy new decade!

I enjoy, albeit with trepidation at times, looking back at the decades I’ve lived through and charting the change from beginning to end.

O tempora, o mores!

1960s

In 1960, growing up in the United States, I remember that things were still quite formal. Most people took care in the way they spoke and in their appearance. They were careful to conduct their households in a respectable manner. By the middle of the decade, that began to change but not too noticeably.

By 1968, a social revolution was underway, including sexually. What was once private became public. Attire reflected that. Women began wearing skirts above the knee. Men’s clothes became more form-fitting.

Sloppiness and drugs became fashionable with the advent of hippies. Even though they were a small minority, they received a lot of media coverage. A slogan connected with them — ‘If it feels good, do it’ — began to pervade society at large.

Cinema and television reflected this change.

At home, Americans moved from watching westerns to tuning into a zany comedy hour. In 1960, Gunsmoke was the most viewed programme. In 1969, it was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Gunsmoke had moved to sixth place in the Nielsen ratings.

Film genres and themes also shifted. In 1960, the great epics were popular, with Spartacus the highest grossing film and Exodus coming third. Psycho was second. In 1969, while Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was in the top slot, Midnight Cowboy was at No. 3, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was No. 6 and an X-rated movie, I Am Curious (Yellow) was No. 12. It would have been unthinkable in 1960 that an urban drama about homosexuality, a movie about swingers and one that was pornographic would have been so popular nine years later.

1970s

The cultural shift continued in the 1970s. American magazines and newspapers devoted many column inches to social drop-outs experimenting with communal living. Swingers were becoming popular in suburbia. Again, those were two small sub-groups of society, but everyone — even the most respectable — knew about these two phenomena.

Pop music got bolder, more sexualised. I remember in high school that we talked a lot about sex and could hardly wait to start dating so that we could experiment. Our parents wondered what was wrong with us. The idea of sin and the forbidden went out the window. ‘If it feels good, do it’ had spread to the middle classes. Previously forbidden carnal acts were encouraged as being completely ‘natural’. This furthered the evolution of a shame-free society. Today, I read that some teenagers don’t kiss on a first date; instead they engage in oral sex.

Interestingly, one of the most suggestive singers of the decade, Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, laments where this has led today:

I remember neighbours of ours getting divorced. The wife said that she could earn her own living now, thank you very much. The husband was heartbroken. We felt sorry for their two children. Until then, my family and I personally did not know any couples who got divorced. It just didn’t happen to everyday individuals. However, divorce rates continued to rise and, these days, no one bats an eyelid.

More women started working. What began as a liberating elective would turn out to be a mandatory means of survival in marriage in the years that followed. Few of us knew that then, though.

Returning to music, it was a great decade for youngsters. FM radio produced rather excellent stations devoted to little known genres that never reached Top 40 AM stations. Through them, we discovered prog rock from Britain: Yes, Rick Wakeman, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, to name but three musical greats. There were many more, too numerous to mention here.

Near the end of the decade we had disco. Saturday Night Fever was a huge box office hit and propelled John Travolta from television (Welcome Back Kotter) to cinema fame.

The most popular television sitcoms, such as Welcome Back Kotter, were all set in metropolitan areas. In terms of television in general, The Waltons was probably the only show with a rural setting.

Halfway through the decade, I spent a year in France, which was much quieter than the US socially and still quite formal, even though the more leftist state university students were generally unkempt and unwashed. In many respects, the country was a bridge between the 1960s and the 1970s in the nicest possible way.

1980s

Leaving university, I recall that many of my friends latched onto the Reagan zeitgeist and became conservatives.

They turned into their parents and lost the fun-loving verve they once had. I stayed single the longest, so was more acutely aware of a shift into respectability and suburban living.

I lived in a major US city then, earning my own way in life. For relaxation, I used to go to matinees at the weekend. The price of admission was cheaper and the cinemas were nearly empty, giving me the impression I had the big screen all to myself.

I saw a lot of world films in the first part of that decade, some from Brazil and Australia but mostly Britain and France. French film became a passion. Even one of the UHF television channels showed French films from the 1950s. Bliss.

As far as music was concerned, my favourite FM station played British and European singles apart from reggae on Sunday afternoons. More bliss.

Then, around 1986, something began to change. Although my favourite radio station stayed the same, the movie theatres weren’t showing as many foreign films. Within a couple of years, they stopped showing them altogether. One of my lifelines had vanished, sadly. The American films that replaced them were not very good, either, so I stopped going to the cinema.

Everything became very one-dimensional. America, somehow, had lost the link with the zeitgeist of European culture, which it never recovered. It used to be that people in the 1960s and early 1970s made a two- or three-week trip to western Europe to see the historic sites they learned about in school. It was what we today would call a bucket list item.

Fortunately, by the end of the decade, employment events intervened — and further improved — for me.

1990s

Living in England, I realised that I had an insatiable appetite for history and politics. I learned a lot about both thanks to a gift subscription to The Spectator, which I had read about in English lit class in high school. It’s been around since 1828.

In 1990s, my in-laws told me that Margaret Thatcher’s time was up. She had become too full of herself. We had high hopes for John Major.

I remember the 1992 election, which Major won handily. I could not understand the rage of my female colleagues who expected Neil Kinnock to win. They stayed up all night drinking, waiting for a Labour government that never came. The next day, at work, they were hungover, tearful — and, above all, angry. Why did they think he stood a chance? Perhaps I had been reading too much of The Spectator, but I had no doubt that Major would continue as Prime Minister.

By 1997, most of us felt change was needed. The Conservative MPs on the front bench seemed like tired, bloated bureaucrats. None of them had an original idea. Most seemed to be lining their own pockets. I was most consterned by Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, who started closing A&E (Accident and Emergency) services at local hospitals. What was she thinking?

When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, nearly everyone I knew rejoiced. Change was coming.

And how …

2000s

The first few years of Labour were fine. I was enjoying my work too much to pay any attention.

By 2005, I longed for a Conservative government, especially when Gordon Brown became PM with no general election.

After that, Labour became unbearable, banging on about people’s personal lives and habits. The smoking ban came into force in the summer of 2007. Ministers assured us in television interviews that private members clubs and hotels would be exempt. No, not at all. It was a blanket ban everywhere.

It was during this decade that London elected its first mayor, Ken Livingstone. He served two terms and introduced the city-wide congestion charge for motor vehicles, which we called the Kengestion Charge. My colleagues at the time reminded me that, as head of the old GLA (Greater London Authority), he was known as Red Ken.

Boris Johnson succeeded him, also serving two terms. His administration made the streets tidy again and also lowered crime.

By 2006, I started looking more closely at the EU and the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who seemed to rule our lives. I agreed with those disgruntled Britons who wanted a referendum on our membership.

Most of all, however, I was sick and tired of Labour, to the point of despair.

I also asked my far better half to cancel my gift subscription to the The Spectator, as it had changed its editorial line considerably after Boris Johnson left as editor. Although more people now read it, it is a former shadow of itself. I would not call it neither conservative nor traditional at all any more.

2010s

Hope came in the May 2010 general election.

The Conservatives had to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. It was the David Cameron and Nick Clegg Show, but at least Labour were out of the picture after 13 years.

David Cameron referred to himself as the ‘heir to Blair’. It took me some time to see it, but he was not wrong.

He set out to reform the Conservative Party and alienated older, faithful members in their local associations. CCHQ suddenly did not need their help.

On a broader level, Cameron will probably be best remembered for opening up marriage to same-sex couples and for offering us the EU referendum, billed by all parties as a ‘once in a lifetime’ choice which they all pledged to implement.

A number of televised debates took place in 2016. I watched them all. Some of my friends were less than convinced by the Leave proposition. The one clincher was Brexit The Movie, which is an hour-long eye-opener about the Brussels gravy train and better than any of the debates, no matter how good:

I stayed up until the early hours of the morning of Friday, June 24, 2016 to watch the result. When it was clear that Leave had won, I went to bed. The next day, my far better half and I woke up to Cameron resigning because he did not like the result. We had a celebratory lunch in London and went to a party that evening that had been planned months earlier. I remember the apprehension we both felt about sounding out the other party guests as to their views on the EU. We later discovered that were not alone. Finally, someone there broke the ice upon his arrival by exclaiming:

Is everybody HAPPY? I certainly am!

At that point, we were free to talk about Brexit.

Theresa May became Prime Minister later that summer.

Across the pond, another sea change was happening: Donald Trump’s candidacy. It was even more of a shock when he won. A startled nation awoke to find that Hillary Clinton was not their president.

The conflicts about Brexit and Trump continue today. Opponents to both have grown ever more vehement.

On September 20, 2019, the British website Spiked issued a thought-provoking documentary on Trump and Brexit. It’s 26-minutes long and well worth watching. To cover Brexit, their reporters interviewed residents of Southend-on-Sea in Essex. To cover the Trump phenomenon, they interviewed Pennsylvania journalist Salena Zito and residents of Erie, which was once a major industrial powerhouse in that state. It has fallen on very hard times, indeed:

The major theme running through both is, as they put it, ‘change’, which I believe they should have called ‘self determination’ and ‘recovering the aspirational dream’.

One thing that struck me was the interview with the owner of a gym in Erie. He said that his father raised seven children on a janitor’s salary:

You couldn’t do that now.

Too right. Both parents now have to work — unlike in the 1960s — and few households can support more than two or three children.

People in Britain and the United States want to work and save more of their hard-earned cash. They also want good job opportunities for their children.

A fisherman in Southend said that, because of EU rules, he is restricted to an ever-smaller part of waters in which to fish. The number of fishing boats has continued to decline, he added, and the number of fisherman has also dropped dramatically. That is why he, and many others in Southend, voted Leave in 2016.

The decade closed with Boris Johnson’s landslide victory on December 12. Historian David Starkey explores what this means for the nation in this 57-minute documentary from The Sun, ably conducted by a young reporter:

Starkey explores the evolution of Parliament since Victorian times, when it became the institution we know today. As many Northern constituencies flipped from Labour to Conservative, Starkey says that Boris’s pledge to revitalise the North will mean little unless he espouses their values of patriotism, which, he says, has been a dirty word for many years.

He says that Boris could well become a figure like Charles II, who restored the monarchy beginning in 1660. Many of their personality traits are similar, he notes, particularly their penchant for bringing a nation together and reforming it at the same time. It is well worth watching when you have the opportunity.

There is much more to Starkey’s interview than summarised here. He talks about the people of the North, Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, David Cameron, Tony Blair and, significantly, Benjamin Disraeli. Starkey hopes that the PM will study his Victorian predecessor’s successes closely.

With that, I must close for now. There are many developments over the past 60 years that I have not mentioned. This is merely to give an idea about the direction that Western society took as the decades rolled on.

Welcome to 2020. Let’s hope it brings many good tidings. I wish all of us the very best.

This year, Boris Johnson spent his Christmas as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

On Christmas Eve, the Conservative Party released this entertaining video of Boris and his father Stanley making mince pies. Boris explains how mince pies are a perfect metaphor for Brexit. There’s nothing ‘sensitive’ about this video. In fact, ‘Mince pies (with Boris)’ is great fun. Watch:

Boris has a lot of support:

Shortly before Christmas, the Prime Minister spent a day in Estonia and served a festive lunch to British troops stationed there. The Express reported:

The Prime Minister dished out turkey and Yorkshire puddings to servicemen at the Tapa military base near the capital Tallinn on a one-day trip to the Baltic state.

The base is home to 850 British troops from the Queen’s Royal Hussars who lead the Nato battlegroup along with personnel from Estonia, France and Denmark.

He said the troops were the “most vivid and powerful possible symbol and expression” of Britain’s commitment to the security and stability of the whole of Europe.

He said: “It’s an incredible thing for me to come to Estonia because when I was a kid – when I was your age – Estonia was part of the Soviet Union and we’re now here helping to protect Estonia’s security.

On Christmas Eve, Boris issued a Christmas message that only he could deliver in such a natural way, partly humorous and partly serious. This is another must-see, especially as he made a firm point about opposing the persecution of Christians (subtitled version here):

He said (emphases mine):

Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution.

For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell.

As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practise your faith.

On Christmas Eve, The Express explained:

A source from No 10 said the Prime Minister wishes to “look at how we can lead on the issue around the world”.

They revealed: “It’s something he came across a lot when he was foreign secretary.

“It has been an issue he has taken seriously personally since he left [the Foreign and Commonwealth Office].”

In May, a report from the former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt found that the persecution of Christians in some parts of the world was a near “genocide” levels.

The review was led by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen.

It is estimated that one in three people suffered from religious persecution, with Christians being the most persecuted group.

According to the review, Christianity faced being “wiped out” from regions of the Middle East.

Figures show that Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5 percent of the population.

These figures drop even more critically in Iraq where numbers have fallen from 1.5 million in 2003, to less than 120,000.

The Prime Minister thanked NHS staff, police and other first responders for being on the front lines during the Christmas period, sacrificing time with family and friends.

On a lighter note, he began his video with this:

Hi folks, Boris Johnson here, taking a moment to wish you all a merry little Christmas.

He ended with this:

Mr Johnson signed off breezily, urging people to enjoy the next few days, adding: “Try not to have too many arguments with the in-laws – or anyone else.”

Brilliant!

The Express reported that Boris and serious girlfriend Carrie Symonds spent Christmas at No. 10 with their Welsh rescue dog Dilyn. The article says that, according to The Times, the couple will be jetting off to Mustique for the New Year as guests of the Von Bismarck family who have a home there.

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