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Life looked rosy for the Liberal Democrats at their party conference in September 2019.

Buoyed by her election as leader, Jo Swinson, a Scot, appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on September 15. The Daily Mail reported on the programme and the party’s policies on Brexit:

The clear stance on Brexit was cemented when members at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth voted overwhelmingly to support a motion to revoke Article 50 it the party gains a majority in a general election.

The move would stop Brexit in its tracks without the need for a second referendum.

“The policy we are debating at conference today is very clear,” Ms Swinson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“If the Liberal Democrats win a majority at the next election, if people put into government – as a majority government – the ‘Stop Brexit’ party, then stopping Brexit is exactly what people will get. Yes, we will revoke Article 50.”

The East Dunbartonshire MP added: “We have argued that a specific Brexit deal should be put to a People’s Vote to give clarity.

We still argue for that. But if we end up at a general election then I think we need to be straightforward with people and give them an option for all this Brexit chaos to stop.

I recognise not everyone agrees with the Lib Dems on this. (But) it is genuinely what we think is right for the country.”

Is cancelling a referendum result ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic’?

Some voters did not think it was:

Tweets began appearing about her voting record as an MP in David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s coalition government (2010-2015). Swinson voted with the Conservatives more often than the leading Conservative MPs of the day:

She went further than most.

However, those were but minor distractions that never hit the media. On September 19, the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Jo Swinson’s party jumped from 19 per cent to 23 per cent to leapfrog Jeremy Corbyn‘s bitterly divided outfit, according to the YouGov vote tracker. 

It came after the party used its annual conference at the weekend to vow to revoke Article 50 and keep the UK in the EU if it won a general election.

Meanwhile former prime minister Tony Blair said today that UK political parties should be worried about the Lib Dems as there is a ‘great level of frustration’ about the direction Labour and the Tories are taking.

Ms Swinson used the speech to lashed out at ‘insular, closed and selfish’ Brexiteers as she branded Brexit ‘the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain’.

This was the polling result published that day:

London’s Evening Standard published an exclusive interview with Tony Blair that afternoon. The former Prime Minister told the interviewer ‘you’re making me feel under-dressed’ and gave his thoughts on the Lib Dems:

… the dangers to Labour if its leader blunders into “a Brexit election” have increased following Jo Swinson’s first conference as Liberal Democrat leader this week. Her promise of a “very, very clear revoke” could be “attractive” and he thought a “resurgent” centre party could squeeze Labour.

On September 30, Twitter activists had researched Swinson’s husband, who works for a pro-EU organisation called Transparency International:

On October 9, Swinson went to Brussels to meet with EU politicians, including Guy Verhofstadt, who has travelled to England to participate in a few Lib Dem events, including their 2019 party conference:

Here is a bit more about Swinson’s visit. Lib Dem MP Tom Brake is in the far left photo:

She also met our EU negotiator Michel Barnier that day. He negotiates with the government, not opposition MPs. She has some brass neck, but, then, again, she wasn’t the only one bending the ears of EU officials:

On Wednesday, October 30, Swinson appeared on the BBC, where veteran journalist Andrew Neil gave her a grilling for insisting she could become Britain’s next Prime Minister. I watched it. It was a breathtaking half hour. The Express reported the principal soundbite around which the rest of the interview revolved:

Speaking on BBC Two’s the Andrew Neil Show, Ms Swinson said: “I’m standing as a candidate to be Prime Minister, Andrew.”

He interjected: “No one stands as a candidate to be Prime Minister. You’re standing as a candidate in East Dunbarton.”

Ms Swinson continued: “I’m standing as the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

“You’re right, we have a parliamentary democracy system and the leader of the party who secures the most or majority of MPs becomes Prime Minister.”

Oh, my!

She dug herself in deeply during that half hour:

Only two weeks later — one week into the general election campaign — Swinson’s delusions of becoming PM were dashed:

Her approval ratings haven’t budged since.

At the party’s manifesto launch on November 20, Swinson pledged to save Britain’s children from a ‘boiling planet’. You cannot make this stuff up:

Some found her rhetoric unconvincing:

Two days later, Home Secretary Priti Patel took strong exception to Swinson’s illiberal and undemocratic approach to Brexit, based on what she had said on the BBC’s Question Time:

Swinson had said on more than one occasion, the first time in an ITV interview, that she would revoke Article 50 on Day 1 of her premiership, because that is within the remit of the Prime Minister.

The BBC’s Andrew Marr decided not to ask her about that statement. The Mail on Sunday‘s Dan Hodges, Glenda Jackson’s son, wanted to be sure:

That day, Hodges had written a columm for the Mail on Sunday about how Swinson was ‘killing the Liberal Democrats’, particularly in the south west, where they always do well:

True. And the slogan on the Lib Dem leaflets is:

STOP BREXIT

in large upper-case letters.

Negative slogans are nearly always the least persuasive.

She began turning off voters in earnest:

Many men have said, rather politely, that Swinson would do well to wear, as one put it, ‘more business-like attire’. Where do one’s eyes go when looking at her? We would like to look more at her face without the other obvious distraction, which women have noticed, too. A Chanel-style jacket would certainly help.

She also made a huge mis-step by putting a huge photo of her face on the side of the Lib Dem battle bus:

Then Andrew Neil chimed in. Oh, boy, did Neil nail it:

On Wednesday, December 4, she made a second appearance on Andrew Neil’s show. She seemed more realistic but, by now, it no longer matters for her or for the Lib Dems. They have sunk like a stone:

She’ll be lucky if they pick up one more MP.

Neil quizzed her on her past voting record, which she now admits was a mistake. He then asked if we couldn’t trust her to make good judgements in the past, how could we do so now? Fair point, well made:

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston sounded the death knell for the Lib Dems on December 5:

This is the latest polling. Lib Dems are down three points:

Of course, all of us pontificating on and projecting their result next week could be wrong, but, somehow, I doubt it.

Lib Dems: same as they ever were, Jo or no Jo.

Yesterday’s post was about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a historic and happy occasion, to put it mildly.

However, while reunification has not been easy, the relationship between the western and eastern regions of Germany has been a historically uneasy one in some ways.

James Hawes, the author of The Shortest History of Germany, on sale in 20 different countries, wrote a short but information-packed article for UnHerd: ‘It wasn’t the Berlin Wall that divided Germany’. It is well worth reading. Even though I took World History in school, there is much here about Germany that I did not know.

A summary with excerpts follows. Emphases mine.

In the Middle Ages, as the Church was gaining adherents in the western half of what we know as Germany, the eastern half was comprised of pagan tribes. The river Elbe was the demarcation line between these two groups of people:

While early medieval western Europe was developing its unique signature, the power-sharing of international Church and national-state, the lands beyond the river Elbe were still populated by pagan, illiterate tribes. No real attempt was made to exert German control and settlement beyond that point until 1147; Cologne had already been a flourishing western European city for 1,200 years when the first German conqueror-farmers reached Berlin.

… East of the Elbe, the Germans never entirely supplanted the Slavs (some, the Sorbs, remain even in the truncated eastern Germany of today, just north of Dresden).

Hence the importance of subsequent Prussian rule and influence over the East:

The Germans of the east came to accept rule by a caste of warlords — the famous Prussian Junkers — and, later, the new Lutheran paradigm of a state which controlled its very own Church and against which there was hence no appeal.

Not for nothing did Friedrich Hayek see Prussia as the template for all modern totalitarian states, whether of the Left or of the Right. Max Weber constantly referred to a place he called Ostelbien, East Elbia, palpably different, for all its local variation, to ciselbian, western Germany.

Once suffrage was granted, voting patterns were very different between these two regions:

Of course, psychologists, philosophers and sociologists can all be wrong and often are. Electoral maps, however, do not lie. They show that ever since Germans have had votes, eastern Germans have voted very differently from western Germans.

Under the German Empire (1871-1918), the Prussian Conservatives — conservative in this context meaning supporters of royal and militarist rule under an agrarian Junker elite — depended almost completely on votes from the East, having scarcely any traction at all in the West.

The First World War changed nothing. In the first normal elections of the Weimar Republic, the extreme Prussian conservatives of the DNVP (officially anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic, violently antidemocratic, their members implicated in several high-profile political murders) were the second largest party nationally but — exactly as with the AfD today — that position was entirely dependent on votes from the East.

And when the deluge finally came in 1933 it was, again, only thanks to heavy votes in the East that Hitler got 43.9% nationally, enabling him (with support from the rump DNVP) to seize power by semi-constitutional means. If the whole country had voted like the Rhineland or Munich, he could only have attempted an armed coup, which the Army would have crushed.

Such patterns have continued to the present day, with nationalist and populist parties more popular in the east than the west.

Further disparity has resulted economically, from the western regions propping those up on the east:

well over €2 trillion has been pumped from Western taxpayers to the East. The so-called Reunification has dragged West Germany back into the role which Bismarck assigned it: to subsidise the economically moribund East because it is their patriotic duty.

Western German voters, rather sick of this, are more and more wary of keeping up this settlement, on top of their traditional role as paymasters of the stable Europe from which German industry benefits so greatly. Yet the Prussian myth of “reunification” has trumped economic reality, which goes to show something we in Britain should know all too well: that there is nothing worse for a country than to misunderstand its own history …

The founder of West Germany, Conrad Adenauer, knew his history. After the First World War he begged the French and British to help him split Prussia off from Germany. When he had to visit Berlin, he would always draw the curtains of his train compartment as he crossed the fatal River Elbe, muttering “Here we go, Asia again!” (“Schon wieder Asien!”) After the second war, though obliged in public to support re-unification, he told the British most secretly that he was determined it should never happen.

To top it all off, both sides of Germany also have a different opinion on the EU, a further source of friction, according to German journalist Sabine Beppler-Spahl in ‘After the Berlin Wall: whither democracy’:

Sabine Beppler-Spahl explains that the calls for reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall were as surprising as the fall of the Wall itself in 1989. The GDR was the German Democratic Republic — East Germany:

It is true that the first banners demanding reunification only appeared after the wall fell, and the GDR had all but collapsed. But that was because of the great dangers involved in demanding reunification in the GDR while it still existed. Hence the original protest slogan was ‘Wir sind das Volk’ (‘We are the people), which was directed at the GDR’s Stalinist government. But from mid-November onwards, it changed to ‘Wir sind ein Volk’ (‘We are one people’), which was directed at the establishment in the West. Soon calls for reunification became so powerful that they could no longer be ignored.

In calling for reunification, people were demanding rights that had been withheld for decades. These included an end to the command economy, with all its hardships, and above all, democracy. When the first free elections were held in March 1990, an impressive 93.4 per cent of the population in the old East took part – which remains the highest ever turnout in any free election in Germany. East Germans didn’t need to be convinced of the virtues of civil liberty and democracy. That’s because, as political scientist Robert Rohrschneider put it in 1999, they knew what it meant to live in an authoritarian system (1).

One of the most amazing aspects of 1989 was that, across Europe, few in power expected it. ‘Of course we said that we believed in reunification, because we knew that it would never happen’, said former UK prime minister Edward Heath in 1989. When reunification did appear on the popular agenda, it became apparent how large and diverse the opposition to it was. It included the most unlikely of allies, from prominent former East German civil-rights activists (2) and the West German SPD and Green Party, to many Western European heads of state.

The Greens were against reunification and wanted reform of the GDR instead:

Several former East German dissidents, like Bärbel Bohley, campaigned for reform of the GDR system. She and others identified with the environmentalist and anti-consumerist rhetoric of the West German Green Party, which was very successful during the 1980s. The Greens, like large sections of the West German Social Democrats and others, identified with Stalinism more than they liked to admit. They were turned off by the sight of so many people demanding democracy and an end to the command economy. So they became supporters of the status quo. ‘We were anti-nationalists’, explained former Green Party leader Ralf Fücks in 2015.

That should tell you something about why opponents to the Greens call them the ‘watermelon party’ — green on the outside, red on the inside.

That said, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, also opposed reunification. So did France’s Socialist president, François Mitterand:

Outside of Germany, the speed and turn of events also prompted apprehension. On 28 November, [Chancellor Helmut] Kohl presented his ’10-point programme for the formation of a contractual community’ (effectively, a plan for German reunification). The then British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who had made no secret of her hostility to reunification, quickly demanded that any talk of a united Germany should be postponed for at least five to 10 years (3). French president François Mitterrand informed a group of journalists that he considered German reunification a ‘legal and political impossibility’. A reunited Germany ‘as an independent, uncontrolled power was unbearable for Europe’, he concluded.

The then-US president George HW Bush — Bush I — was Chancellor Kohl’s greatest ally:

With Western Europe’s most powerful states opposed to reunification, Kohl’s most reliable ally became US president George HW Bush. As journalist Elizabeth Pond wrote, the US played a decisive role in reversing the resistance of the British and French. There was, however, one condition placed on German reunification – it was to take place within the European Community.

Although reunification took place on October 3, 1990, it did not happen overnight. The terms of the controversial Maastricht Treaty, signed in 1992, were the only way France would agree to a formally reunified Germany:

The most far-reaching part of Maastricht – and the most contested within Germany itself – was the decision to create a monetary union, with a common currency, namely, the Euro. According to historians Andreas Rödder and Heinrich August Winkler, Kohl accepted that a reunified Germany would have to enter a monetary union in order to win support for reunification from France. It was a concession that came at a price for the French, too. It meant the French state was also to be bound to the fiscal rules and regulations of the EU. As French political scientist Anne-Marie Le Goannec explains in L’Allemagne Après la Guerre Froide, it was France’s admiration for the ‘German Model’ that helped Kohl push through the fiscal rules of the EU. Maastricht, however, was unpopular from the start. And in a referendum held in France in September 1992, only 50.8 per cent voted in favour of it.

Whereas the French public were consulted over Maastricht, the Germans had no say:

Maastricht was also unpopular in Germany. Unlike the French electorate, however, the German electorate was never consulted. The absence of any public vote was compounded by the weakness of the opposition SPD, which had never recovered from its position on reunification. It meant that Kohl’s government was given a free hand to reunify Germany as a part of the European Union.

Although most Germans approved of Maastricht when Kohl’s government ratified it, by the mid-1990s, sentiment had changed dramatically:

Admittedly, support for a united Europe had been high in the early 1990s, especially in the former GDR, where over 85 per cent were in favour, compared with 70 per cent in the former West. By 1996, however, support had dropped to 35 per cent in the east and 40 per cent in the west (4). Christopher J Andersen, a professor of political science at New York State University, attributes the sharp drop-off in enthusiasm for the EU to the job losses and economic problems that plagued the former East German economy (5).

In brief, reunification under EU rules brought about years of change that no one had expected:

It wasn’t just the abolition of the well-loved Deutsche Mark, pushed through by Kohl, which annoyed so many Germans. Other deeply unpopular policy measures, which would probably have been rejected by the electorate, if they’d ever been asked, included: the expansion of the EU; the free movement of cheap labour from impoverished eastern Europe (leading to wage depression); the German military intervention in the Yugoslav war; the handling of the Greek debt crisis; and the temporary loss of control over borders. Again and again the structures of the EU have allowed different German governments to ignore the opinions of the electorate and pursue unpopular policies.

This year, the East has shown that it sees reunification differently to the West and is reacting against the EU:

The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party has led three successful election campaigns in the former East German states of Brandenburg and Saxony (in September 2019) and Thuringia (October 2019), using the slogan, ‘Vollende die Wende’ (‘complete reunification’). The slogan was widely criticised in the media. ‘People are told to go back on to the streets, like they did in 1989, and bring the system down’, said one journalist on a programme entitled How the AfD has appropriated reunification. Elsewhere, an open letter, written by a group of former GDR civil-rights activists, accused the AfD of ‘historical lies’. But the AfD can also point to several former dissidents who sympathise with it. And so the battle over the meaning of 1989, which is simultaneously about today’s politics, is set to continue.

No doubt some Germans living in the East would agree with another article from UnHerd, ’10 things I hate about Germany’, which discusses various economic and political policies from Angela Merkel. EU-loving Britons point to Germany as the be-all and end-all, the role model to which we must look up. Ultimately:

the Germans may be no worse than we are, but they’re certainly no better.

I could not agree more.

Germany is a great place to visit. The German people I’ve met have been courteous and friendly. The architecture is fabulous. Shopping is excellent.

However, no EU nation is a be-all and end-all — not under Brussels and the Maastricht system.

There is much to cover in the aftermath of the EU elections held in the UK.

Hell certainly broke loose at the end of May, and I don’t mean Theresa.

Labour

After many months, if not a year, of anti-Semitic slurs coming from some elements of the Labour Party, the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) finally took action:

During the BBC’s programme about the EU election results on Sunday, May 27, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell declared that he had voted for the Liberal Democrats, the largest Remain party. The Labour Party duly expelled him, then decided to review their decision:

Kate Hoey, on the other hand, has played her cards well as the most prominent Leave Labour MP since 2016. She believes that The Brexit Party deserves a seat at the negotiating table:

The Brexit Party

Nigel Farage is absolutely correct about Theresa May’s ‘deal’, or treaty:

Meanwhile, party chairman Richard Tice, one of three newly-elected MEPs for the East of England region, isn’t taking any nonsense:

On May 29, Westmonster reported:

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice has issued a legal letter to an SNP MEP following allegations of money laundering were made in a Sky News interview on Monday.

Alyn Smith accused the Brexit Party of being “shysters” who were “a shell company for a money laundering front”.

The interview which has been circulated across social media for the last 48 hours was brought to the attention of Tice whose solicitors have now issued Mr Smith with the following letter:

Conservative Party

The race continues for party leader, succeeding Mrs May.

The overall picture of the runners and riders shows gaps in their commitment to delivering Brexit:

Priti Patel has been committed to delivering a proper Brexit since 2016:

She also recognises the despair at grassroots level among the loyal, tireless volunteers:

It won’t be long before we see how this develops for the Conservatives.

I hope true Leavers do well. More to come as the leadership contest narrows.

Between Thursday, May 23 and Sunday, May 26, European voters let their leaders know what was on their minds.

The 2019 EU elections were quite the eye-opener, as nationalist parties and the Greens did very well indeed:

Like them or not, interesting trends emerged:

Italy

Matteo Salvini was thrilled:

France

Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) — National Rally — edged past Emmanuel Macron’s LREM — Renaissance — list:

Politico reported that Le Pen’s party:

scored about 24 percent of the vote, compared with roughly 22.5 percent for Macron’s centrist-liberal party, according to two initial projections.

United Kingdom

The biggest news came from the United Kingdom. The six-week old Brexit Party won nine out of ten regions.

The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

The Brexit Party has won nine of the 10 regions to declare their results in the European elections, claiming 28 of 64 seats in the European Parliament

Nigel Farage’s party came top in the North East, North West, East of England, Wales, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humber, the South West and South East

This came largely at the expense of the Conservative Party. Theresa May’s party have lost a huge share of the vote across all regions, so far losing 15 MEP seats to leave a total of three. The party is in fifth place, with its lowest vote share in a national election since they formed in 1834.

Good grief!

However, The Brexit Party is represented in 10 out of 10 regions, as this Scottish result came in early on Monday morning:

It seems that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will now hold one more seat than Angela Merkel’s CDU Party: 29 to 28!

Nigel Farage gave his MEP acceptance speech in Southampton, saying:

These are some of the regional results (click on image to enlarge):

Here are the other new Brexit Party MEPs.

Hearty congratulations, ladies and gentlemen!

What an amazing result!

Like the Conservatives, Labour also suffered. The Liberal Democrats received a lot of Remain votes from Labour voters, as did the Greens. In Scotland, the SNP took a substantial share of Labour votes.

You can read more about the EU election results on the BBC’s website and at the Daily Mail.

Any Remainers who missed last week’s BBC4 Storyville documentary about Brexit from a Brussels perspective must watch it before voting in the EU election on May 23, 2019.

The two-part documentary was made by Belgian film-maker, Lode Desmet, who spent two years with Guy Verhofstadt and his team in Brussels.

I did not watch it at the time, because it features Verhofstadt, whom I consider to be odious.

At the weekend, I read a British website where two Remainers commented after watching it. Both said they had changed their minds — to NO DEAL! Amazing.

After that, I looked the Storyville documentary up on YouTube, because BBC iPlayer said their videos could not be played at that time. On BBC iPlayer, part one is here and part two is here.

Each part is just under an hour long. I highly recommend them to everyone, particularly Remainers:

 

Conservative MP Mark Francois is absolutely correct:

What follows is part of his article for Brexit Central (emphases mine):

On one occasion – incredibly, bearing in mind he was on camera – one of Verhofstadt’s staffers, exclaimed on hearing that we had agreed to the 585-page so-called “Withdrawal Agreement”, that “We have made them a colony!”. The sheer joy that was evidenced on the faces of the European negotiators when it became apparent that we had acceded to the “Withdrawal Agreement” tells you everything you need to know about why they regarded it as a clear victory over Britain.

Again and again throughout the documentary, the UK’s negotiating tactics are derided by their interlocutors, including the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The Prime Minister and her team are repeatedly disrespected and only on one occasion – when Dominic Raab took over as the Brexit Secretary – did any of the Europeans appear to believe that we had started to resist …

Verhofstadt and his highly self-satisfied team are then filmed watching the result of the first Meaningful Vote in Parliament in January 2019. When the “Withdrawal Agreement” was defeated by 230 votes (the largest defeat in parliamentary history as it turns out), their disappointment is palpable. The pattern is repeated for MV2 and MV3 – by which time Verhofstadt cannot bear to watch, as he has clearly realised what is going to happen.

I have never doubted that I was right to vote against the “Withdrawal Agreement”, but this dramatic insight only confirmed my deep conviction that we were fighting a surrender to the European Union all along. Indeed, Martin Selmayr, the Secretary General of the European Commission said some time ago (although not in the programme) that “Losing Northern Ireland was the price the UK would pay for Brexit”. It seems on reflection the House of Commons was not prepared to pay this price – and rightly so.

One other thing struck me when I watched the programme – as a patriotic Brit – which was that I could not help but be angered by the sheer arrogance of the people on camera and the utter disdain that they had for our country and its people. I was discussing this only yesterday with a TV producer who is a self-declared Remainer but who told me, in her own words:

I have always been pro-EU and I gladly voted Remain, but when I saw that documentary all I could think was – how dare you talk about us like that, f**k you!

As a media expert, she also volunteered that these people were not in any way self-conscious about being filmed – because they clearly thought that they were doing nothing wrong.

Ultimately:

I would urge every MP and indeed everyone who is thinking of casting a vote in the European Elections on 23rd May (which I hope will be as many people as possible) to watch this programme before deciding how to cast their ballot.

The European elite have completely given themselves away – on camera – and proven once and for all via this programme that 17.4 million people were right all along.

The EU elite do not give a fig about Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They are interested only in our money to fund their lavish Brussels lifestyles.

I am surprised that the BBC even showed this documentary, because it really paints a most unflattering portrait of the EU elite.

Therefore, this is one of those rare times I can honestly say, ‘Thank you, BBC!’

On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union.

May signed the letter on March 28 and a British official presented it to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels the following day around 12:30 p.m. BST.

This tweet by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh is dated March 28, 4:15 p.m.:

Tusk takes receipt of the letter on March 29:

Nigel Farage, former party leader of UKIP who pressed hard for the 2016 referendum, gave an interview earlier that day:

He also discussed it on his talk radio programme in London:

Contents of May’s letter

Bloomberg is one of the few news sites to have the full text of Theresa May’s six-page letter to Donald Tusk.

The first four paragraphs follow (emphases mine):

Dear President Tusk

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

Article 50

The European edition of Politico has the full text of Article 50, which is brief and comprised of five provisions. Wikipedia explains it further.

These are the salient items:

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

This means that the UK is still part of the EU until the exit process is complete.

However, we are no longer allowed to participate in European Council discussions. In fact, it was interesting that the English text ‘European Commission’ has been removed from signage in Brussels. It has been replaced with another European language, with the French words underneath.

From March 29 onwards, news reports will refer to 27 EU nations instead of 28.

The UK is in an EU limbo until our exit. We must still pay monies to the EU and are subject to EU law.

Article 50 means simply that the exit process begins.

The Telegraph has more. Briefly:

A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a majority of 72 per cent of the EU’s remaining 27 member states.

The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.

The motion makes clear that the UK will remain bound by the rules of the EU and that trade talks with third party countries are not allowed for as long as it remains a member.

The irony of Article 50

There is a certain irony behind Article 50.

It was written by a Briton between 2002 and 2003 to apply to EU countries that could become dictatorships.

Veteran diplomat John Kerr, now Lord Kerr of Kinlochard — a cross-bench peer — told Politico that he never envisaged the UK invoking it. Lord Kerr:

drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.

That initiative was scuppered by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands but some elements ended up in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009.

One of the sections pasted across became Article 50

“I don’t feel guilty about inventing the mechanism. I feel very sad about the U.K. using it,” Kerr told POLITICO. “I didn’t think that the United Kingdom would use it.”

When he was writing the text 14 or 15 years ago:

the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.

“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.

He calls attention to the fifth provision of Article 50, the possibility of reversing a decision to leave the EU:

In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.

Kerr summed up the exit process simply:

The process outlined in the text is, he noted, “about divorce … about paying the bills, settling one’s commitments, dealing with acquired rights, thinking about the pensions. It’s not an article about the future relationship.”

What is the timetable?

The BBC has a full timetable from now through March 2019. Of course, it is not written in stone, but it is the Brexit objective.

On Thursday, March 30, Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the Great Repeal Bill to Parliament, which will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU, i.e. in 2019 (all being well).

On Friday, March 31, Donald Tusk will publish negotiation guidelines that the EU will use.

In April, the 27 remaining EU members will adopt negotiation guidelines at the EU summit.

When Parliament opens again in the Spring, the Great Repeal Bill will be announced in the opening statement.

Michel Barnier, representing the EU, will begin participating in negotiation talks with the UK by late May or early June.

Late this year, Parliament will review the Great Repeal Bill in greater detail. If laws must be passed in certain areas to close any gaps, this will be done by mid-2018.

By the end of 2017, it is expected that Michel Barnier will have concluded the first round of negotiations. He expects to complete the negotiating process by September 2018.

At the beginning of 2019, both the UK and the EU will hold separate votes in Parliament and the EU Council, respectively, on the exit plan.

It is expected that the UK will leave the EU sometime in March 2019.

Impact of negotiations

The next 18 months will require careful negotiation to ensure that the UK is not adversely affected.

Attention to preserving human rights — including those for EU residents living and working in Britain as well as British expatriates living in Europe — will be essential.

Also essential will be negotiations concerning EU-sensitive industries such as farming and fishing.

The Telegraph and the BBC both have good Brexit Q&A on these topics and more (see halfway through).

Trade on food will also be negotiated. Currently, UK supermarkets sell a lot of EU fruit, vegetables and dairy products. We also export comestibles to the EU.

Banking and educational institutions are also weighing up their options. On March 30, Lloyd’s of London confirmed they will be opening a branch in Brussels. Oxford and/or Cambridge might open satellite universities in EU countries.

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I’ll have more on Brexit soon and what we might expect to see over the coming months.

What a week for interesting news going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln!

Here’s a selection of what was in the media. Emphases mine below.

Prolonged childhood problematic

Charlotte Gill, a young woman writing for The Spectator, deplores games such as Pokémon Go and Candy Crush as well as games franchises, e.g. Nintendo. These products distract too much from real life which young adults should be embracing:

I genuinely believed that my generation would get over Pokémon – that there would be a collective ‘growing up’ – but I was wrong. Data shows that 49 percent of Pokémon Go users are 25 or over

Such games are viewed as ‘a bit of fun’ – a nice distraction from the world. After all, who thinks about Isis when they’re searching for Pokémon? But I can see a wider issue about Generation Y and its obsessions; a huge denial about being adults. Frankly, it’s all a bit sad.

The trouble with all these baby hobbies is that they distract twentysomethings from doing something good with their lives. And, I know, we all deserve to have downtime and can even turn passions, like gaming, into a career. But for many young people, these enterprises become hugely absorbing, and steal the best years of their lives. The irony is that they will not know that this is happening; franchises with cute, sweet animals come across as harmless and nostalgic.

As a generation, we need to grow up. The world is becoming a more frightening, competitive place all the time; it has never been more important for young people to buck up, get some skills, even set up their own businesses, instead of indulging in the toys and franchises we should have left behind years ago …

The strange thing about all of these pursuits is that young people take pride in them. They think it’s funny to be trivial. It’s ironic, they say. In reality, it seems ignorant. Girlfriends complain to me about men who won’t commit in relationships; it’s no wonder, given that they live in a society that wants to immortalise childhood

Such pastimes are bread and circuses on a small scale. We could be approaching Idiocracy sooner than we think.

London Tube: attempted murder – terrorism or state of mind?

In December 2015, Muhiddin Mire attempted to slit a man’s throat at Leytonstone Tube station in east London.

He was given a life sentence on Monday, August 1 and will have to serve a minimum of eight-and-a-half years.

Law enforcement, barristers and doctors disagreed as to whether the cause was extremism or his mental state. During the attack, he yelled:

This is for my Syrian brothers. I’m going to spill your blood.

Police said that, given some of the content on Mire’s phone, he could have been influenced by extremist propaganda. However, the court heard that he was also suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attack. Was his state of mind exacerbated by the extremist material?

In any event, he will start his sentence at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.

Over the past few weeks I have read several letters to the editor in the UK and in France from mental health workers on recent terrorist/extremist attacks. These people are asking for an investigation into any psychotropic medication that those carrying out the attacks might have taken in the weeks and months beforehand.

It is a legitimate question, one that needs further investigation, especially in light of the American lady who met with a tragic and terrible death in Russell Square the night of August 3. Although police are no longer considering terrorism as a motive:

The Met Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Mark Rowley, said the investigation was increasingly pointing to the attack being “triggered by mental health issues”.

A 19-year-old is in police custody. Originally from Somalia, he lived in Norway before moving to the UK. Police say he is a Norwegian national.

Sky’s report proves what my late mother often said about London — it is the crossroads of the world. It’s worth reading to see the variety of names and nationalities.

Saturday night scare in London’s Camden Town

On Saturday, July 30, an alert member of the public contacted the Metropolitan Police about a suspicious vehicle in Camden Town, London’s nexus for young adults and hipsters.

At 10:50 p.m. police evacuated several pubs and clubs. The Mirror was one of two (that I can see) news outlets to carry the story. Their story pointed out:

It was a major operation on one of London’s busiest high streets at its peak time.

The Met sent in one of their police robots to investigate the car. The London Evening Standard story has a photo.

Fortunately, the car presented no threat. Police allowed night spots to reopen around midnight.

Well done to the quick reaction of the member of the public and the police.

Burger chain, bogus papers and bugs

The UK has several trendy burger chains, one of which is Byron. Its founders sold the business to an investment firm, Hutton Collins, for £100m in 2013.

On July 27, news emerged that immigration officials carried out a raid on several branches. That was on July 4. A Spanish newspaper in London, El Iberico, reported the story before MSM did. Over the past week, leftists bombarded certain branches of Byron with bugs and protests.

The Home Office had contacted Byron to say officials would be going in to their premises on July 4. Byron management sent notifications out to staff that health and safety training was going to take place that morning. As such, staff attendance was mandatory. The restaurant chain refused to comment on whether the health and safety training was set up under false pretence.

The Guardian published Byron’s statement on the incident:

It said: “We can confirm that several of Byron’s London restaurants were visited by representatives of the Home Office. These visits resulted in the removal of members of staff who are suspected by the Home Office of not having the right to work in the UK, and of possessing fraudulent personal and right to work documentation that is in breach of immigration and employment regulation.”

A Home Office source told the newspaper that 35 people were arrested in connection with the raid. They had come from Brazil, Nepal, Egypt and Albania.

The Left went into overdrive online and on the ground.

On Friday, July 29, two central London branches of the chain had to close. Activists smuggled in bags of insects into the Holborn and Shaftesbury Avenue sites. The Guardian reported:

In a joint statement published on Facebook, London Black Revs and Malcolm X Movement said the direct action was in response to the chain’s “despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Border Agency”.

“Many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets [have been released] into these restaurants. We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their families from such dehumanised treatment,” the statement said.

Obviously, these people do not believe in borders. No doubt, there are any number of anarchists among them.

The activists invited Huck‘s Michael Segalov along for the occasion:

On Thursday evening my phone vibrated, a number I’d never seen before had sent me a text.

“Dear Journalist, this is a tip-off”, it read, “info: 8000 locust, 2000 crickets, 4000 cockroaches. See you tomorrow night.”

The bug barrage went as planned. Customers scarpered. Those who were there might have left in panic, without paying. The rest of the night was one of lost income and massive clean-up. The manager of one of the branches was, quite rightly, angry. Segalov wrote:

I get it, sort of. This was his place of work, which was now a shambles, it wasn’t his fault that the raids had happened (he probably didn’t even know they were planned) and now his team were going to spend the night chasing crickets and picking cockroaches out the red-onion relish.

Outside, a female passerby reminded him that staff and the manager were going to have to deal with the mess, no one else. That said, this woman and Segalov think it was still worthwhile.

Why? The people arrested had forged paperwork. They entered the country illegally.

A huge protest of no-borders lefties took place on Monday, August 1 outside the Holborn branch. The Evening Standard reported that the branch was closed after they heard 1,300 protesters might attend. Police were on the scene. The Standard reported:

Byron said in a statement: “In response to the recent Home Office investigation, we would like to reiterate the following.

“Byron was unaware that any of our workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to our attention. 

“We carry out rigorous ‘right to work’ checks, but sophisticated counterfeit documentation was used in order to pass these checks.

“We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests and processes throughout the course of their investigations: it is our legal obligation to do so. 

“We have also worked hard to ensure minimal impact on our customers while this operation was underway.”

Well stated.

Taking legitimate citizens’ jobs through forged papers is theft.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s little black book

The EU’s most disliked bureaucrat, Jean-Claude Juncker, told Belgium’s Le Soir that he has a little black book with all his enemies’ names in it.

The Guardian reported on the interview. Le Petit Maurice, as Juncker calls his notebook, serves as more of an aide-memoire than anything else. He thinks it is also a useful deterrent:

He would tell people attacking him: “Be careful. Little Maurice is waiting for you.”

On UKIP MEP Nigel Farage, Juncker:

claimed he respected the Ukip leader and found him “very funny” and erudite.

Yet, he said that he had not embraced Farage during the last European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg:

I whispered something in his ear that was not a compliment. The photos gave the impression that I embraced him.

Juncker has no plans to go anywhere. Juncker has no regard for European citizens. He wants an EU army to cope with the migration crisis, a perfect way to impose more control over us. He is upset that EU countries have not taken in more migrants and despises the reimposition of border controls in the Schengen Zone. I wrote at the end of May:

People like Jean-Claude Juncker are the reason why many Britons will vote for Brexit. Juncker and Co’s arrogance is unsurpassed.

In June, two days before the EU Referendum, I reminded readers of two of his most outrageous quotes:

On EU monetary policy

“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious … I am for secret, dark debates”

On British calls for a referendum over Lisbon Treaty

“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

Jean-Claude Juncker: another reason to be happy Brexit won.

The Khan controversy

For my readers who do not live in the United States, an attorney by the name of Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia, flanked by his wife in traditional dress.

The Khans came to the US from Afghanistan via the United Arab Emirates, where their son, Humayun, was born. The family became American citizens once they were eligible.

Humayun became a captain in the US Army and was killed in 2004 in Iraq when he was investigating a car fitted with an explosive device. Americans can be grateful for his honourable and courageous service.

At the DNC, Khizr Khan sharply took issue with Donald Trump’s policy on restricting or temporarily banning Muslim immigration until Homeland Security figures out what is going on.

Trump politely responded in television news interviews by saying the Khans would have been vetted — current policy — and admitted, were he in the Oval Office. However, the polemic continued from Democrats and Republicans, including Khan and Trump.

On July 31, Trump tweeted:

I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!

Charles Hurt defended Trump’s position in a July 31 article for The Hill. Hillary supporters should note the following:

Stop for a moment and ask yourself how exactly the Clinton campaign arrived at the decision to trot out the Khan family in the middle of their highly-choreographed, exhaustively produced convention?

Were they just looking to give voice to the parents of a soldier? That would be a first. Did they want parents of anyone who had died abroad in the defense of their country? Gee, why not pick the parents of one of the fallen warriors who died defending the U.S. consulate in Benghazi? Oh, that’s right. They would have called Hillary Clinton a liar. Can’t have that.

No. Politicians like Hillary Clinton do not see people like Capt. Humayun Khan as a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice on a foreign battlefield in defense of his country

Politicians like Hillary Clinton see him only a demographic, a dispensable political pawn to be scooted around an electoral map, the way generals used to move armies across giant maps of the lands they were invading.

Here’s the kicker:

Perhaps a better testimony from Khizr Khan would have been for him to talk about how Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate when she voted to invade Iraq. Years later, after that position became politically unpopular, she changed her mind and joined new political forces to vacate all the land across Iraq that so many great American patriots like Capt. Humayun Khan had died for.

It was her vote that sent Capt. Khan to his death. And then it was her decisions later to render that sacrifice worthless.

Of course, the media will run and run with this one, whilst continuing to deprecate Patricia Smith who spoke at the Republican National Convention about her son Sean who died during Benghazi. Mrs Smith is right in saying that Hillary Clinton must come out with the truth. Mrs Smith said she was not even allowed to talk to people at the State Department; they told her she was not ‘immediate family’!

Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his stepbrother

And finally, a fascinating letter from Abraham Lincoln to his stepbrother John Daniel Johnston appeared on Real Clear Life this week.

Lincoln’s stepbrother had asked him for $80 in 1850, the year the letter was written. $80 in today’s money is a sizeable $2,424.24!

Lincoln minced no words in refusing the request. He reminded Johnston this was not the first time he had given him money:

but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler … This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it easier than they can get out after they are in.

A shorter version should be printed on billboards (hoardings, for my British readers) and posters. It should be displayed on public thoroughfares and in schools. We have way too much idleness today. Idleness brings trouble. Remember when our parents and grandparents used to say, ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’?

He went on to acknowledge Johnston’s kindness to him and proposed that, if Johnson worked over the next five months, Lincoln would match the sum of his earnings dollar for dollar.

Kindle owners can find a book of Lincoln’s letters on Amazon. Maybe that has a follow-up.

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That’s all the news you might have missed over the past seven days.

Have a great weekend! May it be non-newsworthy except in the best possible way.

When the EU Referendum debates and discussions were going on this year, the widespread understanding among the British public was that, should Leave win, the Prime Minister could trigger Article 50 to start the separation from the European Union.

David Cameron implied as much in his resignation speech on June 24.

In other words, it did not require a vote in Parliament.

Now that Leave have won, elite Remainers say that invoking Article 50 requires a separate Act of Parliament, i.e. a vote in the House of Commons.

Hmm.

Remainers were out in force at the weekend.

There was a Remain protest in London with at least 30,000 protesters taking part.

Then former Deputy Prime Minister (2010-2015) Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, added an additional layer of procedure, saying there should be a fresh election before Article 50 is triggered. The Guardian reports (emphases mine):

Under Clegg’s scenario, MPs after an election would scrutinise the government’s specific plan to ensure it was legal and workable, and crucially, article 50 should only be triggered following a vote of consent from MPs. He points out that many top legal experts have disputed the notion that the prime minister can invoke article 50 on her or his own.

“Finally, the definitive, negotiated terms both of our exit from, and our future relationship with, the EU must then be put back to parliament for a vote of consent,” argues Clegg.

Conveniently, legal experts are already in place, no doubt hired by the Remain elite. Mishcon de Reya is the firm’s name. They are highly expensive and out of the reach of most Britons except for multi-millionaires and billionaires.

The Guardian tells us:

A prominent law firm is taking pre-emptive legal action against the government, following the EU referendum result, to try to ensure article 50 is not triggered without an act of parliament.

Acting on behalf of an anonymous group of clients, solicitors at Mishcon de Reya have been in contact with government lawyers to seek assurances over the process, and plan to pursue it through the courts if they are not satisfied. The law firm has retained the services of senior constitutional barristers, including Lord Pannick QC and Rhodri Thompson QC.

Their initiative relies upon the ambiguous wording of article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which sets out how states could leave the EU. The first clause declares: “Any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

It would be interesting to find out more about their proposed case, because Article 50 is EU — not British — legislation.

It is odd that this is coming up now, in light of a Leave result. It seems that hiring Mishcon de Reya is a Remain tactic to overturn or push aside the Leave result. Worse, it may be establishing conditions that do not need to exist in order for us to begin ‘divorce proceedings’.

In February 2016, MP Philip Hammond — the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs — led a debate on the EU Referendum. The question of a parliamentary vote arose.

Note that Scotland’s Alex Salmond said the Foreign Secretary — not the Prime Minister — invokes Article 50.

Excerpts from Hansard follow:

Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP)

The Foreign Secretary invokes article 50. Before notification was given under article 50, given that the referendum is an advisory one in terms of the constitution, would there be a vote in Parliament? Would there also be a vote in the Scottish Parliament, given the impact on devolved competencies under the Sewel convention?

Mr Hammond

The Government’s position is that the referendum is an advisory one, but the Government will regard themselves as being bound by the decision of the referendum and will proceed with serving an article 50 notice. My understanding is that that is a matter for the Government of the United Kingdom, but if there are any consequential considerations, they will be dealt with in accordance with the proper constitutional arrangements that have been laid down.

The next question seemed to concern revoking the Communities Act of 1972, UK legislation which was necessary in order for Britain to become a member of the EU:

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con)

I rather concur with the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), because I think that before the Government could move to any action as a consequence of the referendum, it would be essential for Parliament to debate the matter and for the Government to obtain consent from Parliament.

On the question of what happens if we leave, may I enlighten the Foreign Secretary? First, there is no obligation to go for article 50. Secondly, we would be taking back control over our borders, our laws and the £10 billion a year net that we give to the European Union. It would buy us plenty of options, which the Government seem determined to prevent us even from discussing.

Repealing the Communities Act would leave us in no man’s land and would immediately cut us off not only from the EU but from other countries with whom we trade. Whereas Article 50 keeps us in the EU and maintains our trade agreements with non-EU countries during a negotiated divorce period, revoking the Communities Act would leave us with nothing. As we are not WTO members because we are in the EU, we would have huge problems. Mr Hammond explained:

My hon. Friend raises again the suggestion that there is no need to treat an exit vote as triggering a notice under article 50. He seems to suggest that there is some other way of doing it. He raised the question on Monday and I looked into it, because he caught my imagination, but I have to tell him that that is not the opinion of the experts inside Government and the legal experts to whom I have talked. We are bound by the treaty until such time as we have left the European Union. The treaty is a document of international law, and Ministers are obliged under the terms of the ministerial code to comply with international law at all times.

The UK’s current access to the single market would cease if we left the EU, and our trading agreements with 53 countries around the world would lapse. It is impossible to predict with any certainty what the market response would be, but it is inconceivable that the disruption would not have an immediate and negative effect on jobs, on business investment, on economic growth and on the pound. Those who advocate exit from the EU will need to address those consequences—the substantive consequences, of the kind that the British people will be most focused on—in the weeks and months of debate to come …

Alex Salmond

… I asked the Foreign Secretary earlier about the circumstances that would arise if the vote went for out and when article 50 would be invoked, and I have been reading the Library paper in preparation on exactly that issue. The Library paper suggests that the likely formulation would be that there would be a vote in this Chamber before the Government invoked the position, but the Government could say it was an Executive decision and just go ahead anyway. What it then goes on to argue is of great importance.

Philip Hammond

I wish to clarify something. I answered the right hon. Gentleman on this point earlier, but I have taken advice since. It is the Government’s position that if the electorate give a clear decision in this referendum to leave, the Government will proceed to serve an article 50 notice; there will be no need for a further process in this House.

In his blog, Conservative MP John Redwood foresees a combination of the two approaches. Whatever happens, we do not need lawyers getting involved:

Parliament effectively control the prerogative powers of government. The government can send a letter triggering Article 50 without asking Parliament. Like all such deeds Parliament can review or vote down any action of the government. If the government uses powers in ways Parliament does not like Parliament can pass a vote of no confidence. We do not need lawyers telling us how to legislate or control government.

It is understandable that Leavers, from voters to government campaigners, are concerned by the controversy surrounding Article 50 or the possibility that the result could be ignored.

The Spectator‘s readers have been mulling this over. One wrote:

Someone on another platform (one of my family actually) just said to me the following:

We have a precedent – the 1974 referendum on whether to stay in was binding on the government of the day, so this referendum is also binding on the government. Can’t have it both ways.

He went on to say:

Article 50 is part of the Lisbon treaty, which is part of UK law, so that shouldn’t need a separate Act of Parliament to enact and the referendum should be binding on the government by precedent, so I’m not sure how it’s going to win. I think this is a time-wasting strategy – tie it all up in the courts, so that a general election can be called before a decision is made, in the hope that a new government won’t be bound by the referendum of the previous one.

The EU could try to force our hand by invoking sanctions under Article 7, inferring that Britain’s instability is affecting the rest of the member countries as it is not conducive to the values of the EU. Most EU leaders understand that a Leave vote requires time to for us to develop an exit strategy. Some, like France’s Alain Juppé, a conservative French MP and presidential candidate in 2017, would like us to invoke Article 50 sooner rather than later:

[Brexit] does not mean we are going to punish the UK. We need to find ways to co-operate, to find a solution to have the UK in the European market, one way or another – whether that is part of the European Economic Area or something else.

They can’t say yes, no, maybe. Now they must draw the conclusions of the vote. When you get divorced, you don’t stay in the same house. It’s not a question of days, but it has to be fast.

Philip Hammond made a statement today criticising Mishcon de Reya:

He says the challenge would fail because a decision had been made and this was ‘essentially a political question’.

With regard to the next Prime Minister, the first round of votes in the Conservative Party leader race take place on Tuesday, July 5. One candidate will be eliminated then, a second by the end of the week, subsequently followed by a third. This would then leave two remaining candidates to set out their stalls more fully before a grassroots party member postal vote takes place, which ends on September 8. The result will be announced the following day.

A week ago on Friday, June 24, Britain woke up to a Brexit result and Prime Minister David Cameron tendering his resignation.

Today, I am starting a new, intermittent series called Brexit Chronicles to chart the progress of the result of the EU Referendum. As with my Brexit series, all posts can be found on my Marxism / Communism page.

Labour Party

Since then, we saw an intransigent leader of the Labour Party hold on, despite a clearance of the shadow Cabinet, which he quickly replaced. However, some party MPs and members are still calling for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation for not having done enough to support the Remain campaign.

It seems to me Corbyn is a closet Leaver, but who knows?

Labour’s John McDonnell — shadow Chancellor — held a press conference today at which he said he expects a leadership challenge within the next few days.

Conservative Party

The best scriptwriters in the world could not have devised a storyline as dramatic and unpredictable as the events of the past week.

I wrote on June 27 that Boris Johnson, the Leave campaign leader, spent the weekend planning his party leadership bid which, if successful, would have seen him accede to No. 10.

However, on June 30 — the deadline for Conservative Party leadership bids — the former two-term Mayor of London and serving MP announced he would not be running. Those attending his press conference were shocked. That includes his brother Jo, also an MP, who was planning on supporting his brother’s candidacy.

Boris spoke at length, then:

Dropping the bombshell to gasps of horror from some, he added: “Having consulted colleagues, and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me”.

Boris’s father Stanley Johnson, a former MEP, placed the blame for his son’s decision on Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice. Gove was supposed to have supported Boris and was at his home on Sunday. Gove had said many times before he had no intention of running for party leader and, by extension in this situation, PM. Then his tune changed and he threw his hat into the leadership ring this week:

… Stanley Johnson likened Mr Gove to the Roman senators who murdered Julius Caesar.

Stanley said: “’E[t] tu Brute’ is my comment on that.

“I don’t think he is called Brutus, but you never know.”

Gove blamed Boris and said that tension over his leadership bid had been building over the past several days. Gove concluded:

“I came to the conclusion that ultimately Boris could not build that team, and could not provide that leadership and that unity.

“It had to fall to someone else.”

He added: “There were a number of people who said to me during the week, Michael[,] it should be you’.

“As someone who had argued consistently that we should leave the European Union, and as someone who’s experienced at the highest levels in the Cabinet, I felt it had to fall to me.”

Boris’s people saw it differently. One said:

There was always an odd smell about Gove’s involvement.

Something wasn’t right from the beginning.

Another MP, Jake Berry, tweeted:

There is a very deep pit reserved in Hell for such as he.

Whilst voters are naturally disappointed Boris will not be running, someone in the know told me last weekend that he wouldn’t. I was shocked. Yet, some people close to him said that his backing of Leave was an opportunity to enter No. 10, not a firm personal conviction:

… many believed his backing for Brexit was a calculation — just the latest opportunistic move to further his career at the expense of any of his own real (if somewhat hazy) instincts.

Some venture, after observing him changing his mind on subjects as diverse as the EU and climate change, that he does not really believe in anything at all. Apart from, possibly, himself.

To thicken the plot further, Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine is a columnist for the Daily Mail and has written articles this week supporting her husband and explaining his decision.

Samantha Cameron has not taken this lightly. In fact, she is furious, vowing not to speak to the Goves again, even though they were close friends over the past 15 years.

Gove first provoked her earlier this year when he came out in favour of Brexit. Now she has termed his leadership bid as:

treacherous.

And:

The PM’s wife was also livid about a newspaper article that Ms Vine had written to explain Mr Gove’s tortured dilemma, in which she aired his private conversations with the Premier about it.

The pair ended up raising their voices and “effing and blinding”, sources said.

They haven’t seen each other since, but did exchange texts last week to mark Sam’s 45th birthday.

But now the rift appears to have become irreparable given Mr Gove’s manoeuvring for the leadership.

The Guardian had a round-up of today’s headlines:

Julius Caesar aside, three more of the bard’s dramas got mentions too. The Scottish play was widely cited by writers who cast Michael Gove’s wife, Sarah Vine, as Lady Macbeth.

A Radio 4 reporter favoured the denoument of Hamlet, with bodies littering the stage, as the most appropriate description of the Conservative party carnage. And the Times thought Gove would now “have to find his inner Henry V.”

Along the way, there were also references to the House of Cards – Vine as Robin Wright’s ruthless Claire Underwood? – and to Game of Thrones (yet another example of Metro’s wonderfully apt front page headlines).

Most national newspaper editors chose straightforward descriptions in their headlines for what the Guardian’s Gaby Hinsliff rightly called “the most vertiginous fall in modern political history”: “Tory day of treachery” (Daily Mail); “An act of midnight treachery” (Daily Telegraph); “Dramatic act of betrayal” (The Times) and “The betrayal” (The Guardian).

The Sun, which devoted 11 pages to the story of Johnson’s transformation from hero to zero, preferred a pun, “Brexecuted”, while the Daily Mirror revelled in the chance to stick its own knife into Johnson: “Justice!”

Intrigue aside, four other MPs are running for party leader: Home Secretary Theresa May, Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom, Leave sympathiser Dr Liam Fox and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb.

Leadsom is the only one who hasn’t served in a Cabinet post. As capable as she is — and despite her brilliance and courtesy during the EU referendum debates — the lack of Cabinet experience might hold her back.

Unless … Michael Gove has blotted his copybook. He held a press conference today. Only five MPs were in attendance. That could be because many were attending Battle of the Somme commemorations. It was still bad timing.

As I write on Friday morning and afternoon, betting oddsbefore Gove’s press conference — showed May in front and Leadsom in second place:

Theresa May is a strong candidate — and a vicar’s daughter. In her speech on June 30, she said:

The campaign was fought … and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door and no second referendum. … Brexit means Brexit.

And finally, on June 29, the Conservative Party held their summer party at the huge and exclusive Hurlingham Club, in London’s Fulham, along the Thames. (I’ve been there twice. It is unbelievable!)

The Sun reported that the mood was ‘very sombre’ and that the speeches were so supportive of David Cameron that, at one point, he was seen to be discreetly dabbing a tear from his eye.

Brexit timetable

My aforementioned insider acquaintance told me last weekend that few Conservative MPs have the stomach to exit from the European Union. Even those who do will try to find the best pro-EU compromise possible.

Leave voters are naturally frustrated by the delay, which, even with a new PM in place by the beginning of September, might not take place until the end of the year!

The sooner we start, the better off we will be. It seems we might be able to count on at least the shadow chancellor, Labour’s John McDonnell, who held a press conference today. The Guardian reported:

There is no appetite from McDonnell to contest the next election on a platform of staying in the EU, the shadow chancellor inferred in his speech today.

Also:

McDonnell says he wants to be absolutely clear on immigration. After the UK leaves the EU “free movement of labour and people will come to an end.”

Anti-immigration feeling stemmed from austerity and economic uncertainty, he says, which Labour also needs to confront.

Before the referendum vote, some in the Leave campaign implied that the UK would be able to hold informal negotiations before invoking Article 50. However, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström reiterated what other European leaders have said. We must trigger Article 50 before we can negotiate.

In the worst case scenario, it could take up to ten years to finalise negotiations.

However, Dr Liam Fox, one of the Conservatives running for party leadership, strongly criticised that notion:

He said it was ridiculous to think that French and German politicians would have to go into their national elections next year telling their electorates they do not know how much French wine or German cars they are going to be able to export. He said the commissioner’s stance was doubly bizarre since she had admitted her timetable and interpretation of the procedure would damage the economies of the EU.

Someone will have to hold the new PM’s feet to the fire on Article 50. There is no reason it could not be triggered as soon as s/he assumes office.

Andrea Leadsom is the only candidate who could be trusted to do it quickly. The others, even Theresa May, would no doubt obfuscate and find a variety of excuses to delay it.

Gove would not do it this year — nor does he expect anyone else to!

There is considerable undercurrent of tension right now. Government must end the uncertainty in September.

The Brexit result will further energise Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

It is easy to portray both Leavers and Trump supporters in the usual binary way: unenlightened, uneducated racists and bigots. However, there is more to the story.

Brexit

In the case of Leave, perspectives were much more nuanced, regardless of what politicians, the media and Remainers say.

As a Leaver on PoliticalBetting.com put it on June 25:

The Leave coalition is quite a diverse one, lefty leavers were for Leave as a vote against globalization, centrist leavers supported Leave as a vote for democracy, right leavers supported Leave as a vote against mass immigration.

As Leave politicians said in the televised debates, their supporters favoured common sense over expert opinion.

The EU Referendum was won by people who rejected the political class, the media, corporatism (including big banks), experts and the elite.

On June 20, Tom Harris wrote an excellent column for The Telegraph, one which took issue with the haughtiness of the Remain camp. An excerpt follows:

Not many people would say it outright, but it’s implicit in some of the discussion around this that merely having a referendum is in itself a dangerous thing, a risk we should avoid.

This is obviously stupid on a surface level. We are a democracy, and democracy entails uncertainty. If we’re going to worry about “jitters” whenever we go to a vote, we might as well give up on the idea of voting at all. Focus groups including Welsh plumbers and single parents in Teesside could be disbanded in favour of specialised all-City panels (better dressed, better canapes). We’re not going to do that, so we’ll all have to find it in ourselves to accept the occasional market wobble.

But on a deeper level the saga of the pound also reveals the suffocating, restrictive groupthink which has dominated the last few months. Remain supporters talk less and less of the “positive” reasons for voting Remain, and more and more about how, since everyone else agrees with them, so should you. And another aspect of the same groupthink is the increasingly frequently stated view that, in fact, referendums in general are a bad thing, and that this should be the last one ever.

The little people (those who live outside SW1) just aren’t clever enough to decide on such a complicated issue as membership of the EU. All those facts and figures are just too difficult to analyse for themselves. That’s why we have a parliamentary democracy, so that our MPs can get on with running our lives while we focus on what’s important to us. Like whippets. Or eating fry-ups.

Harris rightly notes that, were it left up to Parliament, nothing would have been done about our place in the EU. David Cameron worked hard at renegotiating various aspects but, in reality, left Brussels with very few concessions.

We cannot be sure that the EU even ratified them.

The innate superiority of Remain was ever-present, as evidenced by this tweet from actor Robert Webb, a Cambridge graduate, who took issue with Boris Johnson’s Independence Day speech in the final debate on the BBC:

Johnson offers ‘hope’ with a clenched fist as a prelude to invoking ‘Independence Day’ to wild applause from thick people.

Television and talk radio journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer addressed similar sentiments in The Telegraph on June 22:

… perhaps you are afraid of being called a xenophobe or a racist or a Little Englander if you want to vote to control our borders? Well, rest assured that the many millions of people who are voting Leave on 23 June are not nasty, bitter old racists who want to go back to the 1950s. This isn’t about closing our borders and turning our backs on the world. On the contrary, this is about escaping the chains of the past and a positive vision for our future in the 21st century global economy. There is absolutely nothing racist or xenophobic about being concerned about the pressures on housing, schools, the NHS, our roads, public transport and community cohesion that years of mass uncontrolled immigration has brought.  

In closing on the ‘little people’, betting patterns were interesting, with Remain on top until shortly after 2 a.m. on June 24. A PoliticalBetting.com reader contributed this comment on June 21 explaining why (emphases mine):

Ladbrokes political betting man on Sky News.

Says those betting on REMAIN bet an average of £450 whilst those betting on LEAVE bet on average less than £100.

So rich people placing bets on REMAIN and poorer people placing bets on LEAVE – no doubt based on the opinions of the people they mix with.

Hence the difference between the betting odds which strongly favour REMAIN and the pollsters’ 50/50.

On June 25, The Telegraph published an article discussing Vote Leave’s man behind the scenes, strategist Dominic Cummings, said to have won the referendum. He carefully ran various talking points by focus groups. In the end:

With a group of only 60 staff inside Westminster Tower and minimal resources, Mr Cummings virtually single-handedly plotted an “asymmetric” campaign against almost the entire political and financial establishment

By early May, he had settled on the three key points that would form the basis for the final weeks of the campaign: a promise to take back control of £350million a week of taxpayers’ spending from Brussels; a promise to take back control over immigration; and warnings that countries such as Turkey and Serbia were in line to join the European Union in the years ahead.

The Remain team brought Obama over to tell us that if we didn’t vote to stay in the EU, we’d be at the ‘back of the queue’ with regard to the United States. More Project Fear. Ho hum.

Lord Ashcroft Polls has this helpful graphic which explains the reasons both sides voted the way they did:

https://i1.wp.com/lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Leave-vs-Remain-podium-rankings-768x989.jpg

Note the risk averse reasons from the Remain side versus the ‘take back control’ principles from Leave.

The disagreement about national sovereignty was acute. Remain did not even mention it, which recalls this quote from 1939 saying that national sovereignty is the root of all evil:

This Leaver’s letter to the editor (Telegraph?) further illustrates the Remain mindset:

I’ve just mugged a ‘Remain’ supporter — I took £350 out of his wallet, but he didn’t seem to mind.

I felt a bit sorry for him, so I gave him half of it back, but only on the condition that he spent it on things I say he can and that everything he buys should have a picture next to it of me saying I paid for it. He agreed!

We are meeting again tomorrow to do the same thing. He said that it was a fantastic idea and that he wouldn’t be able to survive without me.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed on June 23. The Telegraph published this letter on June 25:

SIR – An email that I received early on Friday from a dear Swedish friend said it all: “What you have done will mean so much for so many, and gives us all hope that democracy will survive and is stronger than all those who wish to control us. Thank you.”

Trump

What is Donald Trump gleaning from Brexit?

Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton and Obama sided with Remain. Trump, by contrast, saw it this way. In May, when asked of the possibility of leaving the EU, he said:

I would say that they’re better off without it, personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation. Just my feeling.

On June 24, he issued a statement on Brexit:

Statement Regarding British Referendum on E.U. Membership

The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.

Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.

He soon followed it up with a tweet:

Many people are equating BREXIT, and what is going on in Great Britain, with what is happening in the U.S. People want their country back!

When he was in Scotland last week to reopen his newly refurbished golf resort at Turnberry, he gave an interview to The Times in which he predicted the breakup of the EU:

“The people have spoken. I think the EU is going to break up. I think the EU might break up before anybody thinks in terms of Scotland.” Trump said in an interview with The Times.

“I really think that without the immigration issue [the EU] wouldn’t have had a chance of breaking up … the people are fed up, whether it’s here or in other countries. You watch: other countries will follow.” Trump added.

I’m less sure that immigration was the primary overall reason. It was the continual loss of sovereignty that many of us found frustrating. Regardless of what pro-EU people say, many European nations’ laws come from EU directives that must be enacted and obeyed, whether those concern weights and measures and fruit shapes or — coming soon — defence policy and tax ID numbers.

Just before Trump went to Scotland, he gave a well-received speech on June 22, in which he explained why he was running for president, his reasons for opposing Clinton — and how he perceives the current state of play in America.

This sounds very similar to Leave’s perspective:

Everywhere I look, I see the possibilities of what our country could be. But we can’t solve any of these problems by relying on the politicians who created them.

We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place.

The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power and in the money.

That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement: so together we can fix the system for ALL Americans. Importantly, this includes fixing all of our many disastrous trade deals.

Because it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.

It’s rigged by big donors who want to keep down wages.

It’s rigged by big businesses who want to leave our country, fire our workers, and sell their products back into the U.S. with absolutely no consequences for them.

It’s rigged by bureaucrats who are trapping kids in failing schools.

It’s rigged against you, the American people.

That is the Leviathan that Leavers opposed on Thursday, June 23.

Americans will have that same opportunity on Tuesday, November 8.

Brexit proved that every vote counts.

The same holds true for American voters.

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