Let’s start with the potential negotiations on trade with the EU. Under Theresa May’s administration we witnessed the humiliating collapse of British integrity and status both with the EU and around the world. Rolling over and capitulating on almost every front by the PM and her negotiating team was abhorrent to most who were in favour of renewed sovereignty and regulatory accountability. Today, we are still faced with a stand-off between Barnier and Johnson with neither giving any ground upon their opening salvo’s for trade agreement. Whereas Mrs May offered the soft ball approach, Mr Johnson is punching the hard ball about. There seems little doubt that by December this year the EU will begin to feel the bite of pushing Britain away from a reasonable and mutually beneficial trade deal - their loss or Britain’s is still something of a debate. What is real, however, is that the EU - even if Britain were still a full member - cannot and could not continue with just three economies propping up the remainder. The economics of that just has no long term credibility or sense. And the EU know it. With Britain gone, the equation becomes even worse, with just two already stretched economies in France and Germany, bearing the full brunt of sustaining the whole 27 in the bloc. Not tenable, not sensible, not likely beyond short-term planning cycles.
The net effect of this is that if there were to be a sensible deal with Britain, the EU would actually strengthen its financial position as there would be net gain to EU nations GDP through trade and, because their contributions are based upon a % based input, the EU would take more in. It’s the classic win-win, albeit a highly simplified overview - but it’s a workable hypothesis to structure trade talks about. But do the EU feel so affronted by Britain’s departure that they’ll cut-off their noses before conceding the mutual benefit ? It could go either way, but the new regime in Brussels is hardly the smartest bunch in town and possibly the least experienced. It will be a sure test of their pragmatism as to how this negotiation turns out.
Trumpy has escaped the wrath of Congress and the Senate and is free to continue his unique style of governance. Around the world there will surely be some head-scratching going on as to whether this is a blessing or a continuing curse. Listening to his recent speeches, the bombast, the arrogance and even the naïveté of his words (BB uses the term ‘words’ with something of a wince in relation to Trumpy) there comes across a sense of his absolute belief that without him America would be doomed to a continuing decline. He gets full marks for positivity, but it’s hard to reconcile the bombast and the message with the reality that the US is struggling to adjust to the 21st century for two-thirds of its population in much the same way as the rest of the world is having to gallop at a new pace to stay above the waves. The rich are getting richer, no question, but the poorer strata’s of Western societies are at best just holding their own and often deteriorating. Capitalism might be thriving for the few, but for a significant majority across many nations, it offers little in the way of solace. Perhaps Trumpy could devote some of his considerable energies to looking at Medicare, drug abuse, crime, regional investment issues around the States and inject a wee touch of humility into his next significant speech. That would be a nice touch, eh ?
BB watched the images of a small Russian flotilla passing northward through the English Channel with a very lean Royal Navy escort to observe any mischief. Northbound traffic through the Dover Strait is navigationally bound to pass through French territorial waters (and southbound traffic passes through British territorial waters) according to Maritime Law and custom - but there was no evidence of the French navy keeping an eye on Russian proceedings. How curious, for their navy is somewhat larger than ours and it was notionally French ‘water’ that the Russians were travelling through. Why wouldn’t they be interested, one might wonder ? Or is it that we still have lingering notions that we could still repel any Russian mischief - which we certainly couldn’t with our broadly depleted services as they now are - and send them scuttling off to Murmansk with their tails between their legs ? The answers are complex but it does raise the awareness that our military capability is vastly under-nourished and that in a crunch situation we would be vulnerable and almost certainly reliant upon external support. Support of that type cannot be guaranteed, however, partly because the US in particular is creeping again toward some degree of military isolationism and partly because other Western allies are also short on resource. There is no secret panacea to this problem - Britain needs, now more than ever since WW2, a stronger and more invested in military capability. The blinkered may argue that we should be spending money on social and environmental projects instead, and they are right in part, but the two have a certain inter-reliance for without strong defence, we have no platform to project worthy causes both in Britain and around the world. Like it or not, the world is still a dangerous place and having a depleted military position as we currently have is not a good place to be.