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Ghost Dog

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,881

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

So Anglosphere and Commonwealth take priority over EU on trade

... As to this fabulous agreement, it will be "a new relationship based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not on the EU's treaties or EU law". Furthermore, "there will be no political alignment with the EU". It will "keep the UK out of the single market, out of any form of customs union, and end the role of the European Court of Justice".

Just so that there is no misunderstanding, the Manifesto goes on to list the attributes of this future relationship. It will, we are told, allow us to take back control of our laws and our money and control our own trade policy. We are also to have an Australian-style points-based immigration system. A new Conservative government would also raise standards in areas like workers' rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment. And it would ensure we are in full control of our fishing waters.

But then comes the key part. "We will negotiate a trade agreement next year", the Manifesto says, "one that will strengthen our Union". Crucially, it then tells us, in bold, "we will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020"... The thing is that there are no "new post-Brexit freedoms" that come to us on 31 January, the date Brexit is supposed to be "done". We move immediately to the transition period where we are still bound by the full range of the EU treaties, the only difference being that we no longer have any representation in the Commission, the Council or the European Parliament... The thing is, though, that we know that a trade deal is possible by the end of December 2020, as long as Johnson elects for a "quick and dirty" agreement. And there is nothing in the Manifesto which precludes him taking that line. The word "comprehensive" attached to the trade agreement does not appear anywhere...

... Here, we have an interesting conundrum as the Manifesto pledges that the new government will aim to have 80 percent of UK trade covered by free trade agreements within the next three years, starting with the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. These deals are supposed to be negotiated in parallel with the EU deal... But the very fact that a deal with the US, for instance, could only be concluded once Brussels had been squared, might actually incentivise Johnson to get the EU out of the way as quickly as possible, regardless of short-term problems... What we could be looking at, therefore, is a major sea-change in trade policy, breaking away from Euro-centric deals in favour of the Anglosphere and the Commonwealth. And as long as Johnson sees no great harm in weathering a few years of lean times while he settles his new trade policy, there is every reason why he should aim for concluding negotiations with the EU by the end of December 2020...


Brexit Brokenomics: The Economic Consequences


... In the short term we could be looking at a substantial increase in unemployment (though from a very low level now), depressed wages and lower investment. Much of the “pent-up” investment supposedly waiting to “unleash Britain’s potential” would be cancelled. Key sectors that rely on EU markets and European Union supply chains would suffer most grievously – cars, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and the City and financial services.

Geographically, places such as the northeast and West Midlands that depend on manufacturing (and in which many districts voted Leave) would be hardest hit. Northern Ireland (which voted Remain) may find it derives some advantages from its anomalous position of staying in aspects of the EU customs union or single market. Overall, the continuing contraction in business investment is especially problematic, because it implies slower productivity growth for the future, which in turn means lower economic growth, wages and the funds to pay for (expensive) improvement in public services such as social care...

... The usual adjustment mechanism for an open economy in such a situation is via the exchange rate – the value of the pound against other currencies. Remember, too, that the UK is even now running a large trade deficit at about 6 per cent of GDP. Another sharp depreciation of sterling seems inevitable, to make UK exports more competitive. However, that will mean higher prices for imported goods and, possibly, higher wage claims (and higher minimum wages) and the sparking of an inflationary spiral – how the Bank of England reacts to these trends will be crucial. If they decide to ramp up interest rates to choke off inflation that will, in turn, hit the housing market, property values, investment and consumer spending...

... The few winners under such a set of circumstances would include those individuals and companies who derive much of their income or own assets denominated in foreign currencies, and those who are most able to reform their operations to make them globally competitive in a hostile trading environment...

How to compete in a hostile environment? By behaving very badly yourself.

Turkey is broadcasting its version live here:



... They argue that only a small minority of Kurds are PKK or YPG members, and that in the 30km deep border zone they are to occupy and secure Syrian Arabs are the great majority.

Some of the landscape under discussion is being filmed from the Turkish side of the border here:

So, it comes down to a flash UK election.

... There are complex technical reasons why the Downing Street plan was a non-starter in Brussels, but the broad outline is simple enough. It would impose a new customs border in Ireland that would be both intrusive and unenforceable. It would give a veto over every aspect of Northern Ireland’s future to the DUP, making a fragile peace settlement hostage to a party that rejected the Good Friday agreement.

Was this plan even meant to be the basis for a negotiation, or was it pure provocation – a phoney offer designed for rejection, setting the Europeans up as the Brexit bad guys in an election? There are certainly Tory MPs who are stupid or uninterested enough in the detail to believe that the government offer was serious. There is also a pro-sanity faction inside Downing Street, led by Eddie Lister, Johnson’s chief of staff from his London mayoralty years, that believes in complying with laws and maintaining relationships with continental allies. But that side of the operation competes with the revolutionary set around Dominic Cummings, who has imported the single-minded fanaticism of the Vote Leave referendum campaign to No 10. In a race to set the terms of debate, there is an advantage to the side that has no interest in diplomacy and no hesitation in setting fire to things, even when one of those things is Britain’s reputation as a rational actor on the international stage...

... Sanity might intrude far enough up Downing Street to allow grudging submission to the law that obliges the government to seek an article 50 extension in the absence of a deal. It isn’t clear how that can be choreographed to spare Johnson the shame of breaking his “do or die” pledge to meet the 31 October Brexit deadline, but his electoral fortunes need not be ruined by the breach. He would present it as a Dunkirk moment for the forces of Brexit – heroic retreat before a Churchillian finest hour standing alone, unbowed against the foreign aggressor. Johnson can count on most of Fleet Street to help narrate events in those terms. Newspapers that gleefully boosted Nigel Farage to torment David Cameron and Theresa May will turn that dial back down for a Tory leader who shows suitably Faragist zeal. The Brexit party is bound to get a boost from article 50 extension, but not perhaps on the scale that Johnson’s enemies would like...

... The past three years have proved the impossibility of turning the fantasy of easy, heroic release from EU membership into a practical policy. There is no alchemy that satisfies leave voters without inflicting harm on the country and diminishing its standing in the world. But for their different reasons neither Johnson nor Corbyn wants to admit that. So they’ll fight an election, not to solve Brexit, but to sustain the fiction that a solution lies just around the next bend down the same infernal road.


Jeremy Corbyn keynote conference speech live now:


UK financial establishment losing fear of radical Labour government

... Earlier this month, Oliver Harvey, an analyst for Deutsche Bank in the City of London, told the Telegraph: “We see the magnitude of economic damage caused by a no-deal Brexit as much higher than [that caused by] policies proposed in the last Labour manifesto.” In the same article, Christian Schulz, an analyst for Citibank, noted approvingly that “Labour has become more decisively pro-EU”, while “a fiscally profligate no-deal Conservative government” had become less “enticing”.

Off the record, other senior people in the City tell me they find the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who has been circulating among them busily in recent months, a serious and intriguing figure: a supposed Marxist who looks, and sometimes talks, a bit like a bank manager.

A similar thaw is under way in the more thoughtful parts of the business press. With western capitalism having a crisis of confidence, at the very least – this week the Financial Times announced “Capitalism: time for a reset” – Labour’s radical economic alternatives have begun to look more reasonable to some business journalists. The Economist, despite its longstanding support for the Thatcherite free-market reforms that McDonnell would like to reverse, has been covering the development of Labour’s new economic thinking with intense curiosity since 2017. This month, the more cautious, centrist FT has published a succession of long articles about “Labour’s new establishment” and its ambitions for Britain. While the pieces were still spiked with criticisms, the scale of the coverage has suggested a degree of respect – and that corporate Britain needs to understand Corbynism, and be prepared to make some accommodations with it...

... Since Corbyn took over Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats have each had three leaders. Meanwhile Labour’s policies – relentlessly dismissed as weird and naive by newspapers that saw no downsides to austerity and Brexit – have in fact often carefully gone with the grain of public opinion: renationalise the railways, raise taxes on the rich, put more police on the streets, avoid fighting foreign wars that lead to terrorism... Corbyn’s Labour has helped crystallise what students of the great Italian leftwing thinker Antonio Gramsci would call a new political common sense: a widespread feeling that free-market capitalism has run its course, public spending needs to rise, and the way we manage society and the economy needs to change...


Ireland: Will UK smugglers make hay while agriculture in NI and the Republic

crashes? It is one of the oldest professions.

... Last week Varadkar confirmed for the first time that there would be checks on goods coming across the Northern Ireland border. “Some may need to take place near the border” rather than on the border but most would be in ports, airports and at businesses. That is of little comfort to agri-food businesses facing mandatory sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks. One poultry business told the Guardian they have been told that “near the border” is actually 100 miles away at Dublin Port, the only place with a Brexit-ready border inspection post...

... Trade to and from the UK is a vital part of Ireland’s economy with €16bn (£14.3bn) worth of exports to the UK in 2018 including around 50% of its beef and almost half its cheddar cheese. The EU has already given Ireland permission to open the coffers to help businesses cushion themselves – and Irish businesses are demanding £1bn to mitigate the Brexit shock.

Representatives of the French government were also at Dublin Castle to explain the special corridor they have set up for Irish freight using the UK as a landbridge to the continent. They have built a new smart-border customs system in Calais which will allow officials to distinguish between trucks carrying Irish and British cargo. Scans of documents will be taken while the truck is passing through the Eurotunnel or on the ferry allowing them to be waved through in Calais as an “EU member state” truck not requiring SPS checks...

... “It doesn’t matter what comes down the track in terms of paperwork, what we can’t deal with is the collapse in sterling,” says O’Leary. “Nobody is making money selling to the UK. We are just surviving.”


The Guardian:

A five-page document spelling out the government’s “planning assumptions” under Operation Yellowhammer – the government’s no-deal plan – was disclosed in response to a “humble address” motion. The content of the document was strikingly similar to the plan leaked to the Sunday Times in August, which the government dismissed at the time as out of date. That document was described as a “base case”; but the new document claims to be a “worst-case scenario”...

... “The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold ‘unready’ HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40%-60% of current levels within one day as unready HGVs will fill the ports and block flow,” it warns. This situation could last for up to three months, and disruption might last “significantly longer”, it adds, with lorries facing waits of between 1.5 days and 2.5 days to cross the border. The reliance of medical supplies on cross-Channel routes “make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays”, the report says, with some medicines having such short shelf lives they cannot be stockpiled. A lack of veterinary medicines could increase the risk of disease outbreaks, it adds.

On food supplies, supplies of “certain types of fresh food” would be reduced, the document warns, as well as other items such as packaging. It says: “In combination, these two factors will not cause an overall shortage of food in the UK but will reduce availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups.” Later, it adds: “Low income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel.”

On law and order it warns: “Protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource. There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.” ...


Brexit: Operation Yellowhammer no-deal document published

Source: BBC

Riots on the streets, food price rises and reduced medical supplies are real risks of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, a government document has said.

Ministers have published details of their Yellowhammer contingency plan, after MPs voted to force its release.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49670123

PM Johnson: I will not ask for Brexit delay

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he would not request an extension to Brexit, hours after a law came into force demanding he delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until 2020 unless he can strike a divorce deal.

Johnson appeared to have lost control of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union with the approval of the law, which obliges him to seek a delay unless he can strike a new deal at an EU summit next month. EU leaders have repeatedly said they have not received specific proposals...

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