Absent Without Leave

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Readers, I’m not entirely sure where to begin? We started the week with the fallout from the Chequers deal and some ministerial resignations. Then we had the EC’s ruling on the leave campaign’s alleged questionable shenanigans, cross party backstabbery over said Chequers deal and crucial Commons votes on the nature of Brexit UK (Now looking increasingly like a hard or no deal Brexit). A pairing scandal on those votes also reared its ugly head and the catastrophic failure of UK national government to keep its own house in order seemed to complete the picture. You’d think that’d be enough to be getting on with. Y’know, pretty much the collapse of politics in the UK’s big hoose.

The end of the week however? What can you say?

Then (Dec 2017) – conditions of Phase 1 agreement: Main points from agreement between UK and EU –  ” It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Belfast Agreement.” (My bold)

Now (July 2018) – Phase 2: “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept, and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept,” Theresa May

Now presumably UK gov are aware of the four freedoms. They did spend some forty odd years helping create EU legislation and voting in the EU parliament after all. Clearly they’re well aware of the EU’s stated position since the referendum result.

Something I wrote in August of last year: “From the EU’s perspective, they aren’t going anywhere. They didn’t force anyone to do anything and didn’t kick anyone out, but they do have rules (as does any club). So far as they are concerned, those rules help ensure and facilitate peace, trade, access and rights between all of its member states. The remaining twenty seven nations agree to live by those rules and enshrined at the core are the four freedoms. They break those rules to accommodate the UK’s wish list and what point the EU?”

So mibbies not a good idea to have signed up to the conditions of the phase one agreement if honouring it was going to prove… problematic? Just a thought.

Mind you historically your average Conservative parliamentarian isn’t all that big on honouring their word, which is ironic for a group of folk who never tire of referring to each other as right honourable members. (cough)

Aaaanyway. Yesterday’s predictable response by Michel Barnier to the white paper? “There are some elements [of the white paper] which do seem to contradict the guidelines of the EU council, the heads of government and state, namely the indivisibility of the four freedoms and the integrity of the single market,” 

Which is a pretty diplomatic and restrained way of saying ‘in your dreams’.

On Ms May’s statement? A cynical sort might suggest that Ms. May has apparently attempted to place blame for the endangerment of the Good Friday Agreement at the feet of the EU and partake in some maniacal political game of chicken. They might also suggest that Ms. May has thrown what’s left of the UK’s tattered political reputation onto a skip, poured petrol on the remains and then thrown a lit match onto the whole sorry mess.

Just to be clear. Any constitutional crisis which has arisen from the EU referendum’s result can surely be laid at only one door – the government of the United Kingdom. That would be your Conservative government. A government that was made fully aware of the endangerment of devolved settlements and standing national agreements before any ballot took place. They knew and apparently, they didn’t care. They were a bit busy sorting out their own party political pissing contest.

I mean, I think we’ve all seen some epically bad politics and political decisions over the years, but this from UKgov wins the prize. If people thought the beginning of the week was the culmination of two years of epic idiocy, then frankly I think we all need to start resetting our standards.

You know what is so depressing about all of this omnishambles? The predictability of the political spin and media coverage. The scapegoating and the insulting attempts to place blame at the feet of others. A government and party of government that refuses to accept responsibility for its own actions. A government that has taken nearly two years not to come up with a viable Brexit plan it should have had in place prior to an EU referendum. A referendum that arguably should never have taken place given standing national constitutional agreements, settlements and assurances. A government that then took time out to fight a leadership battle, two general elections and a court case in order to consolidate (badly) its own right to legislate without scrutiny. A government that was and is still, absent without leave on a voyage of self harm.

The general public? Confused, conflicted, concerned. Mushroom farmed*. (*Kept in the dark and fed on sh.. STUFF!)

This is maybe a good time to deliver your regular reminder that in Scotland you have a choice and a lifeboat. I’d say that’s worth some SERIOUS consideration about now.


38 comments on “Absent Without Leave

  1. Vestas says:

    Its entirely predictable – and I said as much last year – that the English will blame the Irish when England & Wales crashes out of the EU without a deal.

    The “dirty Irish” will be a convenient scapegoat for England – and I expect to see a lot more MI5 provocateurs stirring up trouble (like Derry in the last couple of weeks).

    England never changes its gameplan – ever.

  2. Aucheorn says:

    Well, when you set it out like that there are an awful lot of adjectives one could use.

    “This is maybe a good time to deliver your regular reminder that in Scotland you have a choice and a lifeboat. I’d say that’s worth some SERIOUS consideration about now.”

    Would you accept the inclusion of the word VERY ?

  3. Anne Martin says:

    Beautifully summed as ever Sam. I wish there was some way to ensure that everyone in Scotland reads blogs like this. I think they are amazing and help me to understand all that is going on in the UK which the MSM don’t! The problem is that you are preaching to the converted on here.

  4. Ian MacDonald says:

    I’ve spent the last few days staring in utter disbelief at my twitter feed and enlightened blogs like this one as events unfold, and as a Britain where sanity existed becomes a dimly reconstructed dream.

    … then flicking back for the BBC ‘s take on the whole apocalyptic affair. Except, there’s nothing, NOTHING, there. Apparently it’s all going jolly well, and should be sorted out while there’s still time to jet off to the Costa del Usion.

    And it seems what Michel Barnier _actually_ said (once I’d located it among the minor news items, because Britain has more important things to worry about than any of this nonsense, such as smart electricity and gas meters) was that there were some bits of the White Paper that would be really useful.

    So, I can’t imagine how we’ve got to this point…

  5. Margaret Barrie says:

    Brilliant analysis, Macart. Perfect summation.

  6. mearnsgeek says:

    I sometimes wish that Armando Ianucci would write another series of The Thick of It based on the past two years of Brexit shenanigans but then I have to remind myself that it simply wouldn’t work as a show – there’s nothing that could be added that would be more ridiculous than our current reality.

  7. angusskye says:

    The longer this Brexitmess goes on and the closer the cut-off date looms, the more I am convinced that a hard/no deal Brexit is – and always has been – the goal. The tories have woven a fog of apparent incompetence and deflection blame to disguise this aim.

    • Daisy Walker says:

      I think you are correct, and in addition – they don’t actually have a clue about how the EU is put together and how it works. If you think back to the start, ‘of course we could stay in the SM and CU’, then we couldn’t.

      All they wanted (regardless of SM or CU membership) was to ensure they did not have their precious tax havens taken off them, and since SM/CU membership absolutely involves staying with the European Court of Justice, which then means the Tax Haven legislation comes with it, it had to go.

      Scotland’s oil and gas will pay for the whole travesty. When its gone, the tax payer will be used to pay for investment into renewables. (Unlike Norway’s model of using the oil now to invest in it.)

      The sweetie money (for them) comes from asset stripping the SNHS, Scottish Water.

      Wicked, wicked, greedy, greedy vandals.

  8. Andy Anderson says:

    Good summation and comment Sam.

    All we can do is individually and as members of Yes groups keep talking to people. My view is that you make them eventually, our future YES supporters, challenge their own belief systems by stating things that click their buttons. The key is talk about the issue and listen for the switches. It works but takes some time.

    YEs we can ad YES we will.

  9. Therapymum says:

    Great summary Sam! Like angusskye I believe no deal has always been the goal, so none of the current shambles is surprising. What does surprise me is the number of ordinary folk who think Brexit is the answer to the country’s ills, when clearly its making things worse. And what we have now is just the tip of the iceberg of what it will be like with no trade deals and/or in hock to the USA. The lack of any questioning of the validity of the EU ref, despite the illegality of the Leave campaign’s actions, is astounding. Seems to me that the selfservatives are eathering their own nests at the expense of everyone else, and like sheep the country is following. Time to go methinks!

  10. annraynet says:

    Great article and summary of the current situation. I’m still not sure whether the hard Brexit was the plan along or whether it’s an extreme case of English/British (identical in their eyes) exceptionalism where obviously the rules don’t apply to us because we’re ‘special’.
    If so, when the penny drops that the EU are not going to evolve their position on the four freedoms and let Britain have its cake and eat it, there’s going to be a lot of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
    Obviously the Brexiteers will blame the EU, particularly Ireland, and the compliant press will back that story.
    Meanwhile ordinary folk will suffer shortages of just about everything, more austerity, more unemployment as industries collapse, with nothing to eat but genetically modified, hormone treated and chlorine washed food, while fracking companies destroy the environment.
    Please let us in Scotland get out as soon as we can.

  11. Och, Sam.
    May’s latest tortured use of a verb is:- ‘evolve’.
    ‘to develop or achieve gradually; devise, formulate. Biology; to develop by evolutionary processes. To yield, to give, or throw off gas. To set free.’

    Ms May seems to think that the EU27 ‘s position on the Four Freedoms will ‘evolve’ now that she has produced this farce of a white Paper.
    The tactic seems to be that if she nags ‘Daddy, can I have an ice cream?’ often enough in an increasingly whining voice, the EU will crumble.
    No Deal is laid on now.

    Your summary of the madness this week is spot on, Sam.

    I loved Ian Paisley’s reported Sri Lanka 2 family holidays in 2013 at a cost of between £50,000 according to him, and £100,000 according to the Telegraph, paid for by the Sri Lankan Government, and Paisley’s reported lobbying of the UK Government not to support the UN Human Rights violation of the Sri Lankans on the3 Tamils.

    Even at the lower figure, that’s £25,000 per holiday.
    One such holiday would surely be a ‘once in a generation’ event. But two at £25k a pop in the same year apparently.
    Aye, right.

    I say his ‘reported’ bung from Sri Lanka, because I gather he has a lawyer waiting to sue the pants off anyone who dares imply impropriety, although MW have suspended him for 30 days.
    Will May get a rebate on the £1 billion bribe to DUP now that he is taking ‘gardening leave’?

    The Unionist Brit Nat Mob are corrupt to the core.
    I fear we ain’t seen nothing yet, Macart.

    I defy Wullie Rennie to resurface and lie about an Independent Scotland’s mythical £15 billion black hole.

    Torcuil Crichton’s free advert to Brit Labour and John McDonnell in today’s Police Gazette-with-tits demonstrarates what we are up against.

    SNP Bad so says the Daily Ranjur and Our Man Crichton.

    Cut and paste away. lads. It beats journalism and working for a living any day.

    What’s the latest of Gerrard’s ‘stars’?

    What a grubby wee Fourth Estate we now have Up Here.

    All what you describe this week is hidden in the long grass by our intrepid Fourth Estate Fifth Column.
    Do they not have children?
    Do they really not give a toss about Scotland?

  12. Illy says:

    And the really, really sad thing is that Cameron could have gone: “Thanks for taking part folks, it was only a consultative referendum, so now that we’ve consulted you, we’re just going to ignore your response. And I’m handing in my 4-week notice, so you can all rail at someone else. I don’t care!”

  13. What can one say except “Hear! Hear!”, Sam? You have summed up the situation with your usual skill and aplomb. It’s all SO depressingly dirty and sordid … time to get onto the life-raft of Independence before the rUK sinks without trace!

  14. Macart says:

    Oh for the love of…

    Q.E.D. LINK

    • Andy Anderson says:

      I remember the Customs person in charge at Dover saying nearly two years ago that he needed to start recruiting now to meet needs of Brexit. He would have been assuming a deal in place.

  15. Thomas Valentine says:

    In multiple negotiation meetings the UK government tried to get the EU to impose customs between mainland Europe and the British Isles. They have there and in the media described the Irish border as ” an internal UK border “. In effect saying that the Republic of Ireland’s international border was a matter for the UK. Meaning that after more than a hundred years since the Irish declaration of independence, UK politicians still do not accept that Ireland is an independent country like any other.

    They would see Irish citizens and goods forced to go through EU international customs control as if Ireland was some autonomous British colony. To reinforce this delusion they told a story where Ireland was a dependent state of the UK economically that used the Pound and entered the EEC with the UK. They claimed most of Ireland’s trade was with the UK. In reality is only about 6% Belgium and the USA being more important. People like David Davidson and Farage have described Ireland as not a real country in the British media. Demonstrating this denial of Ireland’s sovereignty is deep seated and widespread among right wing British politicians.

    From this right wing position May’s manoeuvres can be seen as an attempt to push the EU countries into recognising British sovereignty over Ireland’s international borders. As if Ireland’s government was some kind of devolved assembly. I had read descriptions of Brexit supporters as nostalgia junkies who wanted to turn time back to the days of the British Empire. Till this point I had not really believed this. But if anything says “19th century mindset” it is this attempt to seize power over a smaller country. British politicians going to other “Great Powers” like France and Germany and expecting them to come to an agreement where they allow one of their number to simply begin annexing a smaller county. In this case the UK government thinks not about physically annexing Ireland but economically annexing it’s neighbour.

    We have though heard the EU’s answer to this hidden demand, in the chaos of Brexit.
    A very clear NO. Yet here we are still.

    It has implications for this future the Brexit leaders have in mind. One they are not quite ready to talk about publicly. They have a hysterical dream of creating a new British Empire through violence and economic intimidation. One where British troops being landed on the coast of Namibia to support white land owners is not unimaginable. Perhaps provoking a conflict with an economically fragile Argentina with the idea of seizing control of that country’s resources as reparations. Once your right wing has gone insane they might believe the craziest of ideas possible.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Agreed Thomas. Some of them think Ireland is in the influence of England and that Scotland is just a region of the same Ego land.

  16. Macart says:

    How to win friends and influence people… (sigh)

    See under – Kiss your international credibility goodbye.

    It’s not often I’d agree with Philip Hammond, but…

  17. brianmlucey says:

    as part of the Too Wee Too Poor discourse
    GDP up over 7% and even stripping out MNCs up by 5%,

  18. ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’
    John Major on Marr this morning quoting Keynes(?) in his argument for a second EU Referendum.
    He argued that the electorate was conned into voting leave. There would be no extra money from not paying tithes to the EU and that the least well off would fare worst given the economic forecasts predicting the UK suffering economically from cutting itself off from its trading partners in Europe.
    He argued strongly for a second EU Referendum now that the lies of the Leave campaign have been exposed..
    Strange that he isn’t coming North like he did during Project Fear to argue for a second Scottish Independence Referendum.
    We were lied to, and are about to be dragged out of the EU against the express wishes of the Scottish people.
    Our John’s got a new motor all right.
    Dominic Raad, to whom David Davis referred as ‘my boy’ sat with Marr spouting the usual claptrap, and Marr let him.
    It is all going to blow up in their faces by Thursday latest.
    He didn’t deny that HMG have contingency plans to ration food from next April.
    Jesu Christos.

    • Macart says:

      On Mr Raab’s latest threat to the EU?

      Much like the Irish border agreement, it was a condition of the phase one talks which allowed the UK to proceed to the phase 2 negotiations. As per the link ATL:

      ” There is no figure on how much the UK is expected to pay, but the document sets out how the bill will be calculated – expected to be about £50 billion.

      – The UK agrees to continue to pay into the EU budget as normal in 2019 and 2020.

      – It also agrees to pay its liabilities such as pension contributions.”

      That’s the second P1 condition in a week they’ve threatened to go back on. UK’s political credibility on the world stage sinking without trace at this point.

      Should UK gov follow through on this threat there are two likely outcomes I’d say. Firstly, any potential trading partner is going to have some serious thoughts about entering into any agreement with a state which breaks its word and international/national agreements so freely. Secondly, if they think the EU won’t chase the UK through international courts to compel UKgov to honour those commitments they’d best think again.

      • Andy Anderson says:

        Spot on Sam

      • Sam, they have either completely lost the plot, or it’s all going to plan for the Rich Elite, who will asset strip UK PLC following a No Deal walkaway.
        This guy rose without trace a year or so ago, and I seem to recall tipping him on WGD at the time for the Tory Top Job , given his background and relative youth.
        He could be next in line to take over from May, given his meteoric rise so far.

        He trotted out the usual nonsense this morning and Marr sat like the pet poodle he is letting Davis’ ‘my boy’ broadcast to the nation that everything was going swimmingly, and that a deal will be done by the autumn.
        It’s going to go badly wrong by Thursday, two days after the Tory Labour and LD Mps have scuttled off on their 10 weeks’ holibags.

        Get the popcorn and Ambrosia Low Fat Cream rice out.

  19. wm says:

    When Scotland gains independance and Ireland is unified, England & Wales will be begging to be accepted back in to the EU at all cost,(when they realise they are in s**t street). Untill then unfortunately, it will cost both the EU & UK owing to the incompetance of this UK gov, it is the worst I have witnessed in my lifetime and I am in my seventies.

  20. Iain says:

    The “UK national government” suggests the UK us a nation. When did that happen?

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