Bristling Brock speaks out...
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Well, despite Brexit affairs not leaping around too much at present (like our Parliament the Europeans have their sacrosanct August), I see we are at least chatting to the Irish over future border arrangements. That can be no bad thing so long as a mutually agreeable solution is found. Another thing that has dogged my thoughts this last few months is the question: 'If we've invoked Article 50 and declared a course of action, does this not allow us - under international law - to actively create new trade deals outside of the EU ?' Now I'm no legal guru on this but it often strikes me as being absurdly unreasonable for the EU to bang on about our obligations to EU law whilst denying our sovereign right to agree trade matters to our future advantage. We are going, we have formally told them so and we are on notice that on 29th March, 2019 we will be out. Now stifle your hoorays just a moment ! Why, do you think, the British government is being so passive and 'reasonable' to EU officials over compliance to these demands ? Why is our government not taking a more bullish position and telling the EU that we will strike such external trade deals as are appropriate to Britain's future so that there won't be that infamously phrased 'cliff edge' in March, 2019. It all seems very one-sided - and I'm not dismissing the future value of a trade agreement with the EU - but we are seemingly headed for that cliff edge, not by dint of an absent EU agreement but because we have allowed the EU to dictate the terms of engagement in this process. Should we not be out there, not just presenting the outside world with royal ambassadors but with gritty trade negotiators putting sound and reasonable trade agreements together ? Passivity in these circumstances is not the answer - our negotiators need to toughen up and start telling the EU what we want out of this - not to the detriment of EU concerns but to ensure that we are not just rolling over and letting the EU play the game out until, they may hope, we change our minds.....
Now that raise yet further concerns in this story. Is 'playing the game out' the British government's objective here also, discreetly appearing to be proceeding with Brexit but in actuality, not ? That's very conspiracy theory'ish but in the world of high politics and money making there are clearly forces at work that do not make this a totally outlandish thought. I truly hope it is outlandish, but....
A Labour MP has resigned under pressure from the Opposition front bench for saying something in public that, I suspect, many of us already believe. The story of horrendous abuse of young white females by predatory gangs of - shall we say, ethnically different groups of men - shows how obsessively PC we have become in this country. We mustn't call a spade a spade in case it offends someone, we mustn't declare a viewpoint for fear that we'll be overheard by the righteous PC brigade of believers, we mustn't even think that way for fear that it will terminally poison our minds against ethnic groups. What absolute tosh this position leads us to. When a free, democratic society cannot express itself then we are on the road to ruin. This is not to advocate hostility toward any ethnic group but it is to advocate that there are problems to be addressed, openly and without fear of recrimination. It applies to majority groups as well as minority groups - let us be grown up about the world we live in.
Amazingly, I find myself actually agreeing with a President Trump statement. The Charlottesville crisis has brought American race relations back to the fore and it is clear that in many areas there is still an undertone of racial bigotry. We shouldn't condone this on any level but Trump, despite being somewhat late in declaring his position on this riot has, I think, quite reasonably commented that this was not a singularly one-sided affair. White supremacists were part of the problem but it increasingly is evident that the counter force to this riot, extreme left-wing activists, were also significant contributors to the anarchy. As always, innocent and peaceable protesters get caught up in the frenzy and the media inevitably focus upon that element of this human drama. Perhaps there are no absolute rights and wrongs here, just people expressing their viewpoints in different ways. But extremism of the far right and the far left is unacceptable. A moderate middle ground allowing all sides to express openly and without fear of expression is surely what America's founding fathers wrote into their often quoted constitution. The pulling down of a statue is the tip of the iceberg. America has history just like we do and the representatives of past era's should not be vilified for what they did then - for they are part of the very fabric that makes up a society....but for that conflict 150 or so years back, America would not be the broadly liveable space it is now. All protesters should remember that history plays its part in everyday lives.
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The government have launched their Brexit opening shots at Brussels with proposals for the future of the customs union relationship. From what is being said there is little in the way of detail as to how these suggested options might work which in general is fine at this stage but nevertheless needs that detail available for when the negotiators sit down across the table from each other later this month. Brussels, of course, will shrug their shoulders and say 'Non' and will likely continue with that stance until there is the pre-cursor agreement on EU citizens therights, the Irish border question and, of course, the size of the divorce bill (aka: how much the EU can screw out of us).
What occurs to me is that all this posturing and counter manoeuvring was entirely predictable once Article 50 had been invoked. So what has our government being spending its time preparing - a discussion document on the minutiae of the customs union. Brilliant ! This will be a football kicked back and forth for some time, no doubt, with the cabinet still divided on the essence of Brexit, the negotiating points and the vigour with which it is levered. In the meantime we'll have Messrs Barnier and Verhofstadt twiddling their thumbs whilst the clock continues to tick away our precious negotiating time.
And what of this growing noise from the wings about another referendum ? All these vocal politicians - past and present - angling for a second vote because they think we were all duped by the first one. Do we not pretend to be a democracy ? If this was to be suggested in France, should they ever be in the same position, there'd be a boom in guillotine manufacturing and the aged would be marshalled into gainful employment to knit 'head bags' at the foot of each - though no doubt they'd want to negotiate to keep their public holidays and be paid well above the minimum wage before serious knitting could commence. Was Brexit not Brexit ? We all knew that the EU wouldn't be a passive bystander in this unique event and that it would tie the process up in constitutional knots just to complicate the whole matter. Where is our British resolve, our ability to see a way forward and take it by the horns ? Pussyfooting around with discussion documents that the EU probably won't even read really doesn't set the proper scene for Britain. Grapple with what needs grappling with - making it conditional upon satisfactory future trading arrangements being established - and start making some meaningful progress.
On a lighter note - just to show how 'Great' Britain still is, I rejoice at the news of the tortoise fished out of the garden pond and given mouth to mouth resuscitation to bring it springing back to life. Well done, whoever you are. It certainly made me smile and continue to believe there is still hope in Britain !
North Korea seems to have taken a half-step back from the brink of nuclear Armageddon whilst elTrumpo maintains his belligerent rhetoric and ego feeding Twitter pages. A belated attempt to ameliorate the anger over the Charlottesville riots has cut no ice with most onlookers and the two incidents together paint a sorry picture of how life is unfolding in this almost Disneyesque land that is also a superpower. If this wasn't so important for the world at large it would be like watching an episode of Flash Gordon battling Ming the Merciless. Tragic.
No doubt there'll be more episodes of Trumpomania following soon.
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Has anyone noticed how the most trivial infractions of our obsessively politically correct society make the 'righteous brigade' jump onto their bandwagons and berate the rest of us with their views and opinions ? I'm looking at the Clark's shoes farrago that has raised absurd accusations of dangerously defining gender roles in our young ! What tosh these self appointed guardians of public opinion speak, pretending they have some innate expertise that sets them above mere mortals. Unless anyone hasn't noticed, girls and boys ARE different and we should celebrate that and recognise that this gender distinction is the very fabric of human society. It's nothing to do with discrimination, it's to do with allowing youngsters to be young and free until such time as THEY can make their own informed decisions. Our excessively non-offensive culture with these people spouting out their indignation should oblige them to reflect - because if we don't we're going to end up with some very weird people populating our land in the future (and we probably have enough already).
It seems the Prime Minister is back from her holidays. I wouldn't deny anyone a well earned break but it seems to me that with Brexit planning having already wasted 14 or so months prevaricating, hand wringing and teeth gnashing you might reasonably have imagined that the cabinet would have continued - along with its cohorts of faceless civil servants - working on this vital issue throughout the summer. Am I being unreasonable ? After all, they wanted to be in government, they forced an unwise election to try and validate it and then they, shall we say, scarpered off on their holiday escapes. Perhaps I'm missing something vitally significant here but to me it underscores the increasingly strong thought that we actually do not have a proper government in situ right now. What we do have is a collection of individuals occupying government posts who broadly have little faith in their leader, dislike each other rather a lot and petulantly mislead each other with either no communication at all or a bare minimum of it.
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