The government, having left Chequers last week in complete agreement on the Brexit position to adopt don't seem quite that way now. Whether that's due to the Labour Party committing their policy to including a customs union with the EU or whether it's due to Conservative detractors fueled by assorted ex-politicians like Tony Blair, John Major and most recently Peter Mandelsohn who are preaching the message of division wherever they go, it is nevertheless the governments responsibility to commit to a decision on a number of key aspects pf the Phase 2 Brexit negotiation. Dilly-dallying inbetween the extreme arguments positions is not an option. Decide, decide now and be absolute and positive in your reasoning and commit to it. Let there be no further ambiguity. And in doing so let's us all put the controversies behind us and make a commitment to getting on with what has been decided - Leavers and Remainers alike.
Whilst watching Liam Fox present his arguments earlier today, he, as a Leaver in the debate, made a case for not having a customs union arrangement with the EU by describing the longer term view of where GDP growth, investment growth and innovative new technology growth would be. He cited reputable sources of information and projection - and we can either accept these for what they are, projections or we can dismiss them as being no more than polls - but whichever view we take the 10+ year outlook was for most of that growth to emerge from countries outside of the EU. Taking an even longer view - 15-25 years - the projections are understandably less certain but follow the same train, ergo, that growth throughout the EU bloc will be limited by virtue of over-regulation and expenditures that don't stimulate growth (the implication being that subsidies only maintain what is rather than teaching recipients how to take the next steps themselves). Dr Fox's argument follows this line of thought and links this stagnant EU image as being the soundest of reasons for not continuing in a customs union with them, ie, if we were in such a customs union we would be being forced to trade with the least productive nations on the planet and inhibited from dealing with the most progressive ones.
Clearly, as a Leaver, he wishes to Leave the EU, so we might wish to temper his thoughts with just a pinch of caution, but the underlying imperative here is that the government needs to make a choice - and then toughen up to negotiate the best outcomes from that choice. If the choice is to have no customs union then let's all get behind that decision and push for global trade arrangements the moment we are out of the EU - that is the longer term future advantage Dr Fox is describing, not the short term upset it may cause but the strategic, longer-term advantage of dealing with those countries that are looking like they may leap ahead of the EU in years to come (and of whom Britain needs to be one). If, on the other hand the decision is to have some form of customs union then we should all equally get behind that choice and press for the best possible terms. That's not my preferred option I'll admit, but we have wasted so much time in sitting on the fence that the time has come to commit to a course that we follow - if we prevaricate further with 29th March, 2019 being a mere thirteen months away, then we will end up with the shabbiest deal going and with little benefit to the country. Make the decision, Mrs May, for good or bad, and then get everyone on board behind it - we're far too late now to continue the messy and divisive process that has characterised the negotiations so far.
El Trumpo has now told the world that he would have gone into the school buildings on the Florida campus where the tragic shootings occurred last week, unarmed, brave and no doubt waving the Stars and Stripes. Perhaps with that thought in mind he would expect the NRA to also charge in with a truckload of assorted automatic weapons to shoot anything that looked like a crazy person. Collateral damage ? Hey, we got the bad guy - eventually, didn't we, huh ? It is sometimes difficult, given Trumpy's very limited vocabulary, to truly understand what he is saying and the manner in which he says things but to me this is not how presidents of super-powers should be behaving. I am not surprised - the extraordinary is his manner - but it adds nothing to the worlds view of the US to see him vocalising his weird thoughts in public. The tragedy is that his popularity is not being eroded by this style. So what does that tell us about mainstream America ????
The UN is showing its gums again over the enlarging tragedies of Syria and umpteen other Middle Eastern and African states. Somewhat like the EU it is riven with regulation, bureaucracy and inefficiency. The League of Nations, set-up after the Great War, suffered the same condition - it's teeth also fell out at an early age and was replaced by the de-luxe, 'let's not repeat those mistakes again' and ever so shiny United Nations. Lots of jaw-jaw but very little action have characterised both organisations. We might ask what these dual failures really mean. Is it that the world's nations can not successfully prevent war, genocide and untold human suffering or is it that the world's nations will always have their own, personal vested interests at heart - in which case what is the point of the UN ! I don't now the answer but it is clear that the UN either needs some rapid dental work doing followed by some serious chewing of miscreants or it should pack up its bags and not bother. My jury's still out on this one.