The Turkey’s prepare to vote for Christmas

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So Corbyn played his trump card, that he had proof that the Tories are planning to privatise the NHS. Now I have to say (and I’m hardly known as a fan of Corbyn) that I’ve heard first and second hand accounts from at least two independent sources (one of whom works for the government and another in finance) who can back up his story. So no this is not coming from the Russians (clearly that’s just Cummings and the right wing media in damage control mode).

Even small details in Corbyn’s claims, such as their being 6 separate meetings between the US and UK trade delegations, is what I was told several months ago. I’ve not made a big deal out of it, simply because I assumed it was common knowledge. Then again, I don’t read any right wing newspapers so maybe I’m being a little naive.

But either way, yes if you vote Tory, you are probably voting to end the NHS, the rolling back of consumer safety, workers rights and environmental protection. That is pretty much a given. And before anyone says I’m alright jack I can afford to go private. Go ask an American sometime how much it costs them to get health insurance. And then there’s the out of pocket medical expenses the HMO’s don’t always cover. You can be spending a thousand dollars on an ambulance, several hundred for medicines, etc. Not only do Americans spend twice the amount on their privatised healthcare system, but the US government spends more subsidising a private system (per capita) than the UK spends on the NHS. So its going to cost the UK money not save it.

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Yet despite it all, the Tories are still way ahead in the polls even thought they’ve had an awful campaign so far, where the PM has to be kept away from people, Mogg told to hide in his country estate and even Trump has been told to please keep his trap shut (least he blurt out something incriminating). But they are still likely too win, largely because the other parties haven’t worked out the Tory strategy and aren’t doing anything to counter it.

The Tories under Boris have completed their transformation into the UK Republican party. And the republican party mantra is, if you ain’t one of the 1% you can fu*k off. They can get away with this because they know that there’s enough people who will support them for a variety of reasons ranging from ideology, bigotry, racism, greed, stupidity and straight out sadism. For republicanism is at its heart sadopopulism. Tory/GOP supporters are quite okay with policies that make them worse off (or actually endanger their lives), so long as some other perceived enemy is also (or more severely) effected. I have it bad but at least them liberals/migrants/poor people have it worse.

And while you’d never get a majority to support that, such is the undemocratic nature of elections in the US and the UK its possible to get a majority control in government with only 30% of the votes. The brexit vote was carried by just 37% of voters (and many leave voters will be dead before brexit happens). Trump got 3 million less votes than Hilary and won with the support of just 25% of the electorate.

In short, the Tories are not a political party anymore but a tribe. Hence why many of the tactics the opposition are employing simply won’t work. Corbyn for example recently said that, given how he can’t get remainers to support him (cos he’s straight up lied to them dozens of times in a row), he was going to appeal to leave voters for the rest of the campaign LOL. Nothing he says will convince them to vote labour. Boris is the brexiters tribal chief, endorsed by the high priests of brexit (Farage, Mogg & Rothermere) and protected by the black magic of the tribe’s witch doctor (Cummings). Logic and facts have no meaning for Tory voters.

And since we are talking about it, no Trump is not going to be impeached. Do you really think republicans are that stupid they don’t know he’s committed a long list of numerous crimes, practically on a daily basis? They know it all too well, they just don’t care. He’s their tribal chief, until he’s deposed they’ll back him to the hilt (of course once they realise his goose is cooked then they’ll betray him, you can’t backstab someone without first getting behind them).

The only way of seeing him in a prison cell is for the democrats to win the 2020 election by whatever means necessary. Which means putting forward a candidate who has the best chance of beating him and uniting the left wing vote behind that candidate, regardless of which wing of the party they represent (no more of this Bernie or bust BS and someone needs to tell Bloomberg to pi*s off). Then they prevent another Trump from ever happening again by change the voting system to Proportional Representation, split up the job of president into head of state and head of government (as is the norm in most countries) and de-politicise the US judicial system (so nobody will ever be able to overturn Roe v’s Wade).

The same is true in the UK. The left and centre need to unite to stop the Tories. In any seat where the Tories have any chance of winning, there should only be one other candidate standing. Between now and election day is it that difficult for the candidates to get together and agree to all withdraw bar one, whom the rest endorse (with the understanding that said candidate will support a 2nd referendum and switching the UK’s voting system to PR). And incidentally, in quite a lot of seats in English cities the lib dems are often the 2nd placed party. In return many labour marginals could be moved into the safe seat category. This would turn the tables on the Tories.

Also it needs to be acknowledged that a big turn off for many voters is Corbyn. Put it this way, any election literature I’ve seen from labour this election (from the local candidate), doesn’t even mention Corbyn once. That’s how toxic he’s considered by even those within his own party. Rumours have it he was planning to quit in the spring anyway, so why not just make it official. He comes out and says that he’ll stay on in a caretaker capacity until brexit is sorted (one way or the other), then resign and let a new labour leader take over as PM. Furthermore, the initial focus of a labour government will be on resolving brexit and ending austerity. The more hard left policies such as re-nationalisation would be issues for the next PM to implement (or possibly a future government after another election).

This would essentially be a statement of fact. A labour government is not going to have time (or the money) for anything other than brexit and basically cleaning up the Tories mess, at least for the first year or two. Backbenchers and coalition partners will insist on these issues being prioritised. Admitting this reality would probably be enough of a compromise to persuade wavering remain voters (who will otherwise vote Tory to stop Corbyn) to back the coalition.

And similarly the lib dems need to drop their policy of revoking article 50 if they win. While yes it does make sense if you understand what’s going on (or how a 2nd referendum would actually pan out), but to anyone who isn’t a political expert it sounds arrogant and elitist. And its not like they are going to win a majority anyway. The SNP too should drop all talk of independence until after brexit. They haven’t much chance of winning a referendum until the damage of brexit/Boris has been demonstrated, so why talk up an issue now that will just cost you votes.

Of course, its highly unlikely any of this will happen. After all we are only having an election because the opposition were too pig headed to come together, oust Boris and his cabinet of ghouls and hold a 2nd referendum (then an election). If you’ve been on any labour/momentum social media recently they spent half their time moaning about the lib dems. You’d swear brexit and austernity was their idea. And the lib dems end up reciprocating.

And in fairness to the lib dems you only have to listen to the latest out of Len McCluskey’s dumb pie hole, in which he suggests that Corbyn should ignore what was said at conference and back leave. This has been the problem, you can’t trust anything Corbyn says because he can’t tie his shoe laces without first consulting with his cabal of toxic advisers.

Hence with a disunited left, its very likely the Tories will still win anyway. Doesn’t matter how badly they screw up, what pesky facts the opposition come up with, nor how out of touch or down right nasty the Tories sound. They will win because they don’t need a majority of voters to back them, just their tribe (who don’t care about the facts), a biased media (even the BBC have become so pro-Boris as to inspire meme’s) and an unfair voting system.

The Tory tribe don’t care how evil or corrupt their chief is, so long as he “shares the cake” and they get a crumb or two, they’ll still support him. Granted they might feel a little differently when they lose access to healthcare (as many older Tory voters are ultimately voting to die in a pool of their own piss on a dirty hospital floor), but it will be too late then. The Turkey’s are literally voting for Christmas.

UK election update and how populism has broken British politics

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Its long been true that a politicians promise lasts as long as a snow ball in hell and is about as reliable as the Scottish national football team. But this latest election in the UK really does take the biscuit. All the parties, but the Tories in particular, are proposing policies that are unworkable and divorced from reality. And as they also contradict everything the respective leaderships have done over the last few years, it is extremely unlikely they would actually keep these promises (if you think the Tories are going to invest money in the NHS, or you think Corbyn’s going to allow a 2nd referendum, I’ve got some magic beans I can sell you).

Inevitably this is the impact of populism on UK politics. Because the problem with populism and such tabloid friendly policies is that they violate what I would call the iron law of politics – all policies have to conform with the realities of the real world if they are too be successful. You can’t break the laws of physics, nor can you ignore reality. If a policy is not properly costed or it would have massive repercussions for a large number of people, or it is just plain unworkable, it ain’t going to happen. Any government who tries to implement such a policy can expect it to fail (as backbenchers rebel or you get sued and tied up in court or civil servants kill it off). Or worse they suffer a massive backlash against it after its implemented (which is basically what’s going to happen to the Tories and Corbyn after brexit happens).

Late us take a few examples. For starters the Tories brexit policy, where by they want a “clean breakbrexit and to restrict immigration. That would put in jeopardy many UK businesses and a large number of jobs. The likely response from businesses is that they’ll try and circumvent this legislation (e.g. find a way to exploit the NI loophole to move goods in and out of the EU/UK) or they just hire a bunch of lawyers to fill out all the paperwork for them. Its the same way the corporations have been circumventing Trump’s tariffs (they send Soya beans to Brazil, or electronic goods from China to Taiwan, take it out of one box, put in another one and then send it off tariff free).

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Of course, while big corporations can afford to insulate themselves and limit the damage of brexit, smaller businesses or individuals (who can’t afford to hire a lawyer to fill out the 86 pages of forms needed to claim residency) are going to be exposed to the very worst of its full effects. But there some elements of brexit big business can’t avoid. Any sort of queue at the borders for example immediately imposes a cost to them. Even if its only for a few hours, that basically means a truck driver cannot get his delivery into/out of the UK without going over his hours (so he’ll need to stop and rest or you’ll need two drivers, essentially doubling your costs).

Which is why the likely response is going to be for corporations to start suing the government, knowing full well the government doesn’t want to get into a messy legal scrap, which could involve sensitive documents being subpoenaed and ministers being called to testify in court (raising the risk that they perjure themselves while under oath). Pretty much every time the Tories have been faced with this threat so far over brexit they’ve either settled out of court or lost the case.

So corporations know that they can safely sue the government and either wriggle some sort of concession out of them or win compensation (noting that neither compels them to stay in the UK long term). Of course, as this means the EU (or the US, China and India) knows that they will have the UK over a barrel in trade talks, they will make few concessions because they don’t have too (as the UK will be compelled to do that for them).

That said, labour’s manifesto also repeatedly breaks this iron law of politics. Lets take for example their plan to abolish private schools. I mean I’d be curious as to what drugs they were doing when they dreamt up this one up. How’s that going to pan out in the real world? Well the previously private school will become a state funded school (which receives a donation of a few million a year from several anonymous offshore funds to top up its budget). The rich will just buy up all the property in its catchment area (then put the kids and a Nanny in those houses), so the only people who get to go to those schools will be rich kids. The only difference is that now, thanks to labour, taxpapers will be helping to subsidise the education of Ress-Mogg’s kids. Does that really strike anybody as a good idea?

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And what about nationalising the water, power and rail companies. I mean yes the services they provide are terrible and overpriced, privatisation has been a failure, but that doesn’t mean you get to fill in the blanks with whatever fantasy most appeals to you. The devil is in the detail, and without such details re-nationalisation either won’t happen or it won’t change anything.

Assuming they can get such a bill through parliament, the first hurdle is that they will get sued by the shareholders of these companies. At the very least this ties labour up in court for several years, meaning that by the time the policy can be implemented the Tories might be back in (and just drop the case or reverse everything). The only way they can get around this problem is by paying out massive amounts of compensation. Money they simply won’t have.

And what would they be buying? The train operating companies or the UK utility firms are often just the front face that handles billing for your utilities or sells you a train ticket. The actual trains are mostly owned by a separate layer of firms, as will be some of the power stations and large parts of the gas and electricity grid. So you’d have to buy out these firms as well (which is easier said than done as they tend to own quite valuable assets). The UK track network is already owned by a state owned quango (so they are already in a defacto state of national ownership).

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The cost of labour’s re-nationalisation plans according to the centre for policy studies See their website for further info

The trouble is having spent tens of billions (or possibly hundreds of billions) getting control over these assets, labour will have no money left to actually make any improvements. The reason why the UK has a railway network the Italians would be ashamed off is a long standing lack of investment into what is essentially a collection of Victorian era infrastructure (with a similar situation as regards water and power networks).

And while it has gotten a lot worse under privatisation (as they have a captive market and no real incentive to invest), its not like British rail was vastly better (they put some money in yes, but clearly not enough). I mean consider that steam engines were running on British railways up until 1968. So at the same time the Japanese are introducing their bullet trains, and France was working on the TGV, the British were being hauled around by Thomas the tank engine.

Unless the government is prepared to pour many tens of billions of pounds (per year) into the railways to correct these historical mistakes (with tens of billions more going the way of the energy & water), there’s little to be gained from re-nationalisation. They could subsidise ticket prices yes, or similarly subsidise electricity and water costs, as some other countries with state owned utilities do. But who is going to pay for that? And what’s to stop the Tories simply cancelling such subsidy’s when they get back into power?

Too which the usual reply for Corbyn supporters is tax the rich. However, as I pointed out before, while there are many good reasons why the rich should pay more in taxes (as they do so in many other countries). But we need to be realistic about how much money such taxes will actually raise. Labour themselves estimate such measures would only raise about £80 billion (which might be a little optimistic). But this is nowhere near enough.

The reality is that if they want to undertake such spending plans, they’d have to push up taxes for everybody. Now there’s no reason why higher taxes are a bad idea. There are many countries with thriving economies where citizens pay a lot more in tax (with the wealthy pay a disproportionately higher rate) and they get better public services (I have relatives in Germany and I know people who live in Scandinavia, this is their everyday reality and they prefer that to the British or American model).

And no the rich won’t leave the UK “within minutes” of Corbyn becoming PM. That’s just grade A BS. The only rich who will leave are those who are doing something illegal (you know like the hedge fund managers bribing Boris) or the ones who are bad at maths. For the reality is that the cost of living in a tax haven is often much higher. For example, Switzerland’s cost of living is twice that of Germany (so any German billionaire who lives across the border is imposing a defacto 50% flat tax on himself and having to pay taxes to the Swiss on top of that!).

But that said, there’s a limit to what the rich and corporations will tolerate (just look at Argentina or Venezuela). And a general increase in taxation isn’t what’s in labour’s manifesto promises. And as Marcon discovered when he tried to sneak a tax increase through in France, you are likely to face a serious backlash when the public catch you at it. But before any Tories start sniggering, brexit is also likely to be very expensive. As expensive as Corbyn’s nationalisation policy, if not much more expensive. They too will face the dilemma of either pushing up taxes or implementing another round of deep austerity, neither of which is going to go down terribly well with the general public.

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What about borrowing? Well if you are bank would you lend money to either of these clowns? Probably yes (banks are kind of run by arrogant upper class types), but as its a riskier bet, only at the right price. Which means pushing up interest rates. Which means everybody on a mortgage or who is renting sees their bills going up, which again is likely to provoke an angry backlash. And this also means the financial markets will have Corbyn or Johnson over a barrel. If they don’t dance to the bankers tune, they risk losing access to credit (which they can’t afford to lose).

Finally, we need to acknowledge that the UK is part of a globalised world and not isolated from international events. Another tabloid friendly labour policy is to nationalise BT and give everyone free broadband access. I’m going to assume they’re not familiar with the train wreck which happened when Australia tried this, the so called blunder down under.

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While I’m sceptical that Musk’s starlink will ever work, the very fact its being proposed shows how quickly technology is changing in this field

And I also assume labour are unfamiliar with Elon Musk’s plans to launch a 12,000 satellite network to provide cheap high speed broadband world wide. Now okay, everything Musk needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it highlights the fact that how we access the internet today might not be the way we do it in ten year time (how many of you are reading this on a smart phone, a device that was in its infancy when I started this blog). So Corbyn would be spending tens of billions getting his hands on assets that could well be worthless within a decade or so. And while I’m also sceptical of Musk’s hyperloop proposal, its going to mean a big pulse of research in the direction of maglev’s, So it again highlights how transport technologies may change.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that labour can’t implement its policies. The devil is in the detail. It requires one to be a bit more strategically clever and embrace your inner Tyrion Lannister. For example, rather than nationalising the UK railway’s (though holding the threat of it over their heads certainly won’t hurt) I’d instead lean on the rail companies to do their fe*king jobs. Refuse to allow any further fare increases (and either try to lower fares or let inflation do that job for you), fine the rail companies heavily any time a train is late (so heavily its just not in their interests to allow that to happen) and rigidly enforce the conditions of carriage (when you buy a rail ticket you and the rail company are entering into a contract whereby they are legally required to get you to your destination regardless of the costs to them).

Then at the same time offer them a carrot in the form of government money to improve the infrastructure (and again some of that is state owned anyway so that should be straight forward enough) and create a more efficient service, so long as they sign up to certain changes and support these improvements. The rail companies options will be to either sign up to this package or sell up and get out straight away. And even this is a win for the government as it means defacto nationalisation happens, but as the rail companies are doing so voluntarily, there’s no delay in court and you’d likely be able to buy them out at a fraction of the cost.

And equally, if I was a brexiter, far from leaving the EU asap, I’d stay in and draw the process out for as long as possible. As this is exactly what the EU wants to avoid. If they refuse any further extensions, revoke article 50 and threaten a 2nd referendum and a future re-issuing of it at a time that will be most inconvenient for the EU. That would put them over a barrel and force them to grant concessions they’d otherwise be unwilling to concede.

Finally, one has to acknowledge that some of the lefts policies do look a little elitist to anyone who doesn’t follow politics. Do people too poor to take the train really care if the government owns it rather than some random company. Those who do use the trains might see that as a good thing, but they are likely to be able to afford their own internet and would be turned off by the idea of the government owning it. The lib dems policy of revoking article 50 might make sense if you understand the dynamics of how a 2nd referendum would unfold, but it sounds a lot like they just want to ignore the referendum result.

By contrast the Tories have managed to keep their lies consistent. The trouble is, this is more than the usual election white lies. Its bordering on serious fraud. And I don’t think they appreciate the backlash they’ll face once the public realise they’ve been conned.

This is the problem with populism. It forces politicians to undertake blunt manoeuvres on a level his or her base can understand, even when they are strategically stupid things to do. It encourages leaders to lie to their own supporters, because nothing is more dangerous to populism than the truth. Consider that Boris’s brexit plan involved throwing the DUP under the bus and conceding everything the EU had originally asked May to agree too (which she hadn’t), even though he resigned because he argued May had conceded too much.

And in the US the consequences of Trump’s populist policy has been that corporations just kept the bits they liked (tax cuts for them, military and wall building contracts galore) and threw away everything else (e.g. bringing jobs back to America, LOL, for a laugh let’s make parts of the F-35 in China and Turkey). With a White House in chaos, a whole host of problems are building up, dictators have effectively been given free reign to do whatever they like, as have criminals. In fact we’ve seen an explosion in corruption and fraud, ranging from the $4 billion OneCoin ponzi scheme to an epidemic of Indian scammers targeting Americans and fleecing them (India’s Modi of course being another populist racist). So all of this is likely to be what’s coming to the UK post-election, particularly if the Tories win (disaster capitalism at its worst).

Regardless of who wins the election (save the lib dems, the spoil sport girly swots who’d cancel brexit), the policies of both party leaders will mean they’ll quickly find themselves bogged down by their own rhetoric. After which they will have little room to manoeuvre and will just have to do whatever they are told by the banks, the EU and the corporations. And that is what you are voting for.

Another election nobody wants

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Just before the EU referendum result in 2016 it looked likely we’d having an election in Ireland, as there was only a minority government who couldn’t really survive a no confidence vote. That didn’t happen and still hasn’t because it was considered unwise to have an election with brexit going on in the UK (hence the opposition agreed not to table any no confidence motions). Well the UK’s about to have its second brexit election (potentially leading to its 4th brexit PM) at what has to been the most inconvenient time in UK history. And, as I will explain later in this article, a third brexit election is a distinct possibility (and possibly a referendum too).

The cult of the one true brexit v’s the cult of the one true Corbyn v’s the cult of the one true Farage

And as campaigning kicks off we have the absurdity of three parties who all claim to represent “the people” against an out of touch elite (despite the fact that all three party leaders were privately educated themselves!). Certainly the fact that the Tories are ahead in the polls does suggest they are likely to win. However, they’ve been campaigning for the last three months while the rest of the parties haven’t. Now the PM’s brexit deal is coming under scrutiny and, as its an awful deal, both the brextremists and the remainers are finding issues with it (hence why Trump warned it would make a US trade deal difficult). And there’s that report into Russian hacking which the PM is refusing to release (I wonder why!). This could cause the Tories to lose votes to both sides.

And the Tory promises of loads of dosh for everything is starting to be walked back. We’ve gone from 40 new hospitals to a handful that will get refurbished (i.e. a lick of paint)…..maybe. More importantly there is the issue of how does the government propose to pay for all of this. The global economy is slowing, the bond market is becoming increasingly volatile and brexit will inevitably lead to a further slow down in the economy and yet further falls in tax receipts.

Bottom line, either the Tories have to be prepared for another round of austerity, one that would make Osborne look like Santa Claus, or they have to prepared to raise taxes. I think you can guess which of the two they’ll chose to do. Yes some Turkey’s will literally vote for Christmas in a few weeks time, but it doesn’t take that many voters in a few marginal seats to either vote a different way (or just stay at home because its snowing outside) to cost the Tories the election.

It is possible the labour will go up in the polls now the campaign has started. This is after all what happened last time. But remember the issue last time was that Corbyn (or he who must be obeyed as he told his MP’s this week) was up against Teresa May, aka the yellow submarine, who spent the entire campaign either running away from people or being honest about Tory policies (which is kind of like an Asbestos salesman being honest about the health effects of his merchandise). In short labour were faced with an open goal and they still lost. And Boris is seen as a much more capable campaigner than May (by which I mean he’s better at lying to people).

And labour’s opaque brexit position doesn’t help. Their brexit policy is basically to shrug their shoulders and say fu*ked if we know! Its the May/Boris deal (with a few minor tweaks) or no deal or no brexit. And given their unwillingness to either try and force through the deal (with amendments) against the PM’s wishes, the fact that 19 labour MP’s rebelled and supported a deal without punishment (a deal that will gut workers rights) and the fact labour resisted attempts by the lib dems to attach a 2nd referendum, all make it difficult for voters to judge where they stand not just on brexit but anything for that matter.

Foot in mouth disease

In essence we could be seeing a repeat of Micheal Foot and the disastrous labour campaign of 1983 (which saw a landslide victory for the Tories and Maggie Thatcher, setting labour up to lose 3 elections in a row). The only difference is that support for Corbyn is already lower than it was for Micheal Foot at the peak of his unpopularity. He is literally one of the most unpopular politicians in UK history….and labour supporters say they actually want an election! LOL!

Part of the problem here is that Corbyn is playing the long game. He doesn’t want to be PM and is quite happy to lose the election as his goals are both to make sure brexit happens (and a labour victory would prevent that) and to drag labour further to the left. He might not be electable but there are several on the hard left in the party who could be.

The thing is, this was also Micheal Foot’s plan. He was happy to inflict a decade of Thatcher on the UK in return for moving labour more to the left. But of course the opposite happened. In the wake of his defeat Labour drifted further and further to the right until they ended up with Tony Blair (“the best conservative PM in UK history” as one Tory voter once called him with no hint of irony). So the odds are history might well repeat itself.

The position of the brexit party will be critical. If they decide to campaign in certain labour marginals but not Tory marginals, then that benefits the Tories. If they go after every seat (and given that Boris has a reputation for betraying his allies, Farage would be a fool to trust him) that benefits labour. But keep in mind that if the brexit party gets enough support, they might hoover up seats from both parties. And both labour and the Tories are looking at near total wipe out in Scotland (its likely they’ll both be reduced to one seat each….both of whom are held by disloyal rebels as regards their respective party leaders).

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This could lead to a result where there is truly a hung parliament. That is too say, no combination of labour plus pro-remain parties or the Tories plus pro-brexit parties (assuming any of them are stupid enough to go into coalition with Boris) can form a government. So how is this election going to improve things? 

Election 2020?

Hence why I’d argue that this election might be a prelude to a future election in late 2020 or early 2021.

If say the Tories lose enough seats to allow labour, the lib dems and possibly the SNP to go into coalition, its a government that might not last very long. The price the smaller parties will extract for their support is likely to be Corbyn retiring. Now he’s said he was going to step down in the spring. And if labour loses lots of seats he might be pushed out anyway (not that he’ll mind, remember his goal is to make sure someone younger and more electable on the left becomes leader, the election he truly cares about is the next labour leadership election). Meaning someone else in labour becomes PM (with perhaps Corbyn in a brief caretaker role). So this would probably satisfy the other parties into supporting labour on the condition of a 2nd referendum (which would pretty much take up all of his time in office). That they should be able to push through, as well as perhaps some electoral reforms. But that’s about it.

On almost every other issue their will be disagreement. The lib dems aren’t going to support his policy of nationalisation. And while the SNP might do so, they’d likely insist that those assets should be owned by Scotland (and in fairness this would be within the spirit of devolution), something labour could never agree too. Free uni education, scrapping universal credit and ending NHS austerity is something all parties could support, but how to pay for it and the pace of the changes would be the sticking point.

Labour might be happy to spend like a sailor on shore leave but the other parties won’t be. As I’ve mentioned before the SNP have pushed up taxes in Scotland without causing too much fuss, but their experience shows such tax increases need to be sold to the public in advance and introduced gradually. A populist led labour will be in too much of a rush to do this properly. And thus they will lose many votes in parliament (either due to labour rebels or their coalition partners not supporting these policies). And of course if labour has a new leader/PM they’ll probably be keen to have their own mandate (not least because the other obstacle will be the house of lords which will block many of labour’s more extreme policies, even if they can get the lib dems & SNP to support them in the commons). So an early election is very likely, probably in 2020 or 2021 not long after a 2nd referendum.

And if the Tories win the upcoming election, the same is also likely to be true. The problem for Boris is that not only does he have to win an election, he has to win by a large margin while also seeing off the brexit party (he can afford to let them drain votes away from labour and get the odd seat, but not so much that they become a major force in UK politics).

The only thing uniting the Tories right now is fear of Corbyn and some vague commitment to brexit. Once he’s gone away and brexit happens (in some way or form), open warfare within the party will resume. The ERG will want chances to the withdrawal agreement or will try to sabotage the trade negotiations with the EU . The remainers will try to push for a softer brexit. And these factions will turn every vote on every issue into a tit for tat struggle.

For example, as you may know the Tories want to privatise the NHS and sell it to the US healthcare companies. However, I suspect at least some Tories will see the flaw in this plan. The average age of the Tory voter is 57 (and rising) and the US has a lower life expectancy than the UK. Does introducing a healthcare policy that will literally kill off your own voters really sound like a good idea? Inevitably some Tory MP’s will rebel (or sabotaging trade negotiations with the US, by for example doing something that will insult Trump’s ego). And if Boris repeats his mistake of expelling such MP’s he’ll simply piss away his majority very quickly.

And recall that the UK leaving the EU is merely one small step on the road. In fact its the easiest of the steps. The UK will have to start negotiating its future relationship with the EU and then all other states. This will require making some unpopular decisions which will upset some significant number of voters and prompt further rebellions and defections. And all against a backdrop of falling tax revenue, a sluggish economy and Scotland trying to leave again (but this time possibly succeeding). So without a very large majority its likely Boris will struggle to get anything done. Meaning an early election is also a possibility, doubly so if he’s dependant on brexit party support (which they’ll likely withdraw once they reason they can unseat a large enough body of Tories to essentially subvert the Tory party).

The problem for Boris at this point is that Thatcher (and her successor Major) won those elections against labour because the UK economy was doing well (probably down to the globalisation of trade and north sea oil rather than anything Thatcher actually did) and they were both keen on moving the UK closer to Europe (which is the one thing they did which we can definitely say did actually benefit the economy). Boris isn’t going to be so lucky.

He’ll be facing the opposite scenario and quite possibly a new labour leader who is both on the left of the party and electable. Because while I would expect labour to drift further to the right as time goes on, the first iteration will be someone who is still fairly close to Corbyn (just not surrounded by a cabal of brexit party fifth columnists with an axe to grind). The price the Tories could pay for brexit is ending up with a hard left government that proceeds to take revenge on them and their voters for brexit and austerity.

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So while I would encourage people to vote, I’d point out that you might well find you have to vote again in the not too distant future. But we still can’t have a 2nd referendum, because apparently asking people to vote twice on the same issue is undemocratic, yet asking them to vote multiple times in an election until the politicians get the result they want is ok.

Brexit and the game of dolts

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Brexit seems to becoming a byword for foolishness and folly as well as deceit and betrayal. And we need only look at the strategies being pursued by Corbyn and Johnson for proof of that. Both appear to be adopting a policy towards brexit that is reckless and foolhardy. But equally for both leaders, their stated policy is just a charade for what is their real agenda.

Corbyn for example says that he will support a general election as soon as the EU rules out no deal. This despite predictions suggesting he will likely lose a general election. Either by a small margin (but with the Tories losing enough seats to offer labour the chance of a coalition with other parties), or by some massive margin. Naturally this has labour MP’s with small majorities (and even some with big majorities) in jitters.

A more sensible strategy would be to use his defacto majority to take control of parliament (with the aid of Tory rebels and the smaller parties) and start amending and then pushing through Johnson’s withdrawal deal. They could amend the deal to put back in a customs union and protection for workers rights. While it seems unlikely he’d be able to attach a public vote to it (that said, according to the lib dems the main barrier to people’s vote right now is the labour party), but certainly Corbyn could lay the ground work for that.

This would turn things on its head. Labour would go into an election with a clear brexit position – vote for us and we will put this amended deal to the public. Only labour can “get brexit done”. Instead it would be Johnson whose left with a ambiguous position on brexit. Out one side of his mouth he’ll be promising a no deal (maybe tomorrow, maybe at the end of the transition period, but some day and for the rest of your life). Out the other side, oh I want a deal (maybe the amended one, maybe a different one, who knows!)….and presumably out his arse whatever Dominic Cummings reckons will win the most votes!

Instead Corbyn is committing labour to yet more fence sitting contortions, with a brexit policy as clear as Irish stout. And since we are talking about it, he’s not taken any action to punish the 19 MP’s who defied the whip and voted for a brexit deal that would strip UK workers of their rights and allow the wrecking of environmental standards.

This has led to howls of protest from labour supporters who now say that not only do they not know where labour stands on brexit, but where does it stand on anything else for that matter. And can you blame them. On the one hand we have labour promising a carbon neutral UK (if they win an election…and the climate deniers in the party can be made to vote for it one assumes). Yet the same week we have labour MP’s voting for a bill that will roll back environmental protections. Can any part of their manifesto be taken seriously now? Naturally, this is not the sort of scenario where you want to go into an election.

Meanwhile the sensible strategy for Johnson would be to carry on regardless. Given that there seems to be momentum to push the brexit deal through, ride that wave and try to thwart efforts to edit or amend it too much. In other words follow through with his own election slogan to “get brexit done”. Yes that will require a short extension, but so what, it still happens in the near future.

But instead he’s pulled the vote on the deal from parliament and focused on getting an election. In fact he’s even implied that if he doesn’t get his election he’ll just take his toys back to Downing street and sulk, then pretend he’s having one by going out campaigning. This has put the possibility of a brexit extension from the EU in jeopardy. And, as I’ve discussed before, while yes the odds are good that Johnson could win, it would be huge gamble as it could easily backfire (particularly if the opposition promote the line, we were willing to vote through a deal, only reason we didn’t was because of Johnson).

And since we are talking about it, an election at Christmas time, seriously? Are you lot for real? Is Boris related by any chance to the Grinch? Do these clowns have any idea of the logistics involved in holding election at Christmas. At a time of year when people are either going to be busy finishing work before the holidays (students will be up to the eyeballs in coursework and exam preparation) or Christmas shopping you want to have an election. With the risk that weather related events could disrupt the vote, postal ballots will be delayed and every church hall & function room in the country booked for a Christmas related events.

So the positions of both party leaders appears to be foolish. At least until you understand what’s really going on. Johnson knows his brexit deal is bonkers. I mean he’s putting a hard border down the Irish sea, such that British people will have to show a passport and go through customs and immigration controls passing between two parts of the same country. But its a placebo deal designed to serve one purpose, get him an election so he can get a majority. After that he couldn’t give a monkey’s.

To Johnson brexit has always been a means to an end. I won’t be surprised, if he wins a large majority, if he then tosses the ERG lot under the bus (same as he did to the DUP) and pushes for a soft brexit or even revokes article 50. Anything is possible with Johnson, as it depends what the hedge funds managers backing him think will net them the biggest gain. He’s the ultimate disaster capitalist.

Corbyn meanwhile doesn’t want to lay the ground work for a public vote because then he’d have to hold one. And he knows full well the likely outcome would be remain. The reality is that Corbyn is a more committed brexiter than either Johnson or the ERG. He’s basically playing the long game. Corbyn knows he’s unelectable, nor is it likely any hard left labour leader could ever be elected under normal circumstances. But a damaging no deal brexit, brought about by the Tories would allow a future hard left leader (and there’s a number of viable candidates within labour) to do just that. Its not so much disaster capitalism but disaster socialism.

But either way, brexit has become a political football. A game to be played for political advantage. And the politicians are placing the pursuit of this game over the best interests of the country. And neither of them shows the slightest inclination towards actually resolving the brexit question. I mean who’d want to go and do a silly thing like that!

Three borders Boris & the post brexit backlash

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So after several months of Johnson & the DUP saying no, no, never to any form of hard border on the island of Ireland (something he reaffirmed just 24 hrs before), now he’s proposing to put in place two borders (or arguably three borders as there will need to be immigration checks at the Ferry ports). And rather than a backstop (which recall was a British idea, not the EU’s) he’s managed to come up with something worse.

To say its unworkable is something of an understatement. Are we seriously to believe that a farmer, whose farm straddles the border (a not uncommon thing), and wants to move a cow from one side of the border to the other has to drive 10 km’s into NI, clear customs, drive 20 km’s back and into Ireland, then 10 km’s back to the farm. And without border checks what’s to stop a truck that’s been cleared through customs simply stopping in a lay-by, loading up with contraband and then driving through (then off load again onto another truck once across). And in the unlikely event of getting caught (the police have made clear there is no way they could hope to search even a fraction of the vehicle traffic), the driver just claims he’s moving a load to Donegal.

And the best bit, the backstop is replaced by the Stormont lock. The economic fate of the EU, UK and Ireland would hinge on the competence of one of the most incompetent and corrupt legislative bodies in Europe. Stormont hasn’t met for two years, officially because of silly dispute over the Irish language. However in reality, the DUP are fearful that Sinn Fein will be able to get enough support from the neutral parties to form a government and take power. They’d then likely use the aftermath of brexit to force through a border poll. And that’s not idle paranoia, SF entire reason for existing is a united Ireland.

So its entirely likely SF would use the Stormont lock as a wedge to force a border poll if given half a chance (while the DUP will use it to frustrate them and seek further bribes from Westminster). Neither party will even remotely care about the economic damage their actions cause. After all if why do you think the GDP for NI is so much lower than it is in the rest of the UK (NI’s GDP is only 23,000 v’s about 42,000 for the whole of the UK and 77,000 for the republic). And any kind of hard border will make NI even poorer, which will eventually just lead to the resumption of terrorist attacks.

Clearly the primary purpose of this proposal is so that Johnson’s tabloid allies can sell it as a compromise. One that will only fail because of the EU, remainers and traitorous judges & civil servants. As I said in my last post, Johnson has suspended parliament (you know like Hitler did!) and is now trying to find a way to suspend laws he doesn’t like, notably the Benn act. Clearly his electoral plan is to blame the EU for no deal/no brexit, while dialing the lying and anti-Corbyn rhetoric up to eleven.

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A delivery of vintage champagne to the Tory conference. And the Tory pitch is you should vote for them because the other parties represent an out of touch elite!

Such irresponsible behaviour, just so that he can cling to power has to be some of the worse behaviour we’ve ever seen from a UK government, which is setting a very dangerous precedence. The many miscalculations that are going on here is staggering, and the consequences are likely to be severe. They’ve even been sample testing George Soros conspiracy theories (ya and labour are the ones labelled as anti-Semitic, go figure!).

I mean we were told that we need to get out of the EU because of all the money it costs, yet we now have a government promising to spend tens of billions just dealing with the fallout of a no deal. And this is merely one of a long list of spending commitments, with no clue as to where the money is supposed to come from (and labour have pointed out some are actually prior spending commitments which have run over budget (due to inflation from the falling pound & Tory incompetence) and need more money!).

And Johnson’s plan (his real one, not this silly proposal to the EU) only works if he can force through an early election (before the negative consequences of brexit become obvious). Now if the opposition has any sense they’ll not allow that, forcing Boris to stay on and deal with the consequences of a no deal with a minority government and lose vote after vote for two years….then again, Corbyn might just be dumb enough to allow an early election. Even so while yes the Tories are well ahead in the polls, that doesn’t mean they’ll win. They are effectively sacrificing pro-remain seats in cities and Scotland, in favour of leave voting seats in the North and industrial towns.

However, that would require getting the voters in those districts to vote Tory…which many won’t do (these are the people Thatcher screwed over, many hate the Tories, in fact they voted leave as a two fingered salute against the Tories). So the strategy is more about getting them to vote for the brexit party, who would steal enough support off labour to allow the Tories to win those seats. But its a strategy that could easily fall apart.

If theirpeople v’s parliament campaign works too well, then the brexit party takes those seats (potentially becoming too big for the Tories to control, or even overtaking them). And if the lib dems withdraw their candidates (perhaps doing a last minute deal with labour), labour might still hang onto them. And given that the Tories now need to make up a 40 seat deficit (and they’ll likely lose a further 20-40 more to the lib dems & SNP), there’s every chance Boris could find himself well short of a majority, even if he wins the popular vote by a comfortable margin (as I’ve pointed out before, its possible under FptP for a party to win the popular vote, but finish 2nd in terms of seats).

And while the Tories might be planning to promise high spending and then air brush those promises from history (as they’ve tried to do before), I’m not sure the public will be happy about that when they discover they’ve basically been conned. Yes politicians do lie, but never before have voters been scammed on this scale. Consider for example Boris seems to be quietly accepting that post-brexit immigration pledges can’t be met. Likely because he knows that the likes of India and China will make the relaxation of immigration controls a condition of any trade deal.

Ultimately the problem here is that the Tory party no longer has any sort of ideology (they have literally lost the plot), other than sadopopulist rhetoric and self inflicted suffering, which they will blame on others. Much like the US Republican party they now exist for no real purpose other than to stop anyone else changing things for the better. While pursuing policies that they know will leave the very people who vote for them worse off….and of course lining their own pockets. And Johnson’s close links to hedge funds betting on a no deal outcome means the Tories already make the GOP look like amateur hour in this regard.

But like I said, the consequences to for the UK of these games the Tories are playing is going to be dire. And a hard brexit is just the start. Have the Tories paused to consider the sort of bus that a future left wing populist leader could drive through the UK legal system if they were to behave like the Tories.

Brexit has radicalised the left in the UK. Hence we have policies coming out of labour calling for private schools to be scrapped and their assets ceased. Granted, at the moment this is just a lunatic fringe on the edges of the labour party (and labour lack the votes to form a majority government). But a no deal brexit and another 5 years of Tory rule could well mean that such a fringe will be the ones in charge (keep in mind Corbyn will be gone, someone more electable will be leader and they might also be from the radical left wing of the labour party).

Because such radicals won’t be interested in simply reversing Tory policies any more. Instead the goal will be more about get revenge on Tory’s and brexit voters. This after all is where Italy’s 5star movement came from. Its how the Bolivarians in Venezuela got started and why they are still in power despite the fact the country’s economy has effectively collapsed (as some in the Venezuela take the view, well I have it bad, but at least the wealthy and the elites have finally gotten their comeuppance). So it is a serious risk.

Because it means that a future hard left PM post-brexit won’t be banning public schools. He or she will simply encourage their supporters to burn them to the ground. No need to nationalise the railway’s or energy companies, simply tell their supporters to dodge their fare and not pay their bills. And ya the courts will give him a rebuke for that, but much as Boris isn’t going to jail for an unlawful suspension of parliament, neither will this future PM.

And if you can simply suspend laws due to a crisis (as seems to be Johnson’s plan, to whip up riots and then suspend the Benn act), that applies to the left as well (e.g. they use riots and burning of public schools as an excuse to suspend certain laws, cease the assets of the wealthy or abolish the old age pension in order to punish the older generation for brexit). What goes around comes around.

And in the US as well, Trump has essentially radicalised the left. And again, while at the moment that likely means Warren winning the nomination (possibly Biden if the GOP get lucky), I suspect after a Trump 2nd term the left’s candidate might be a little more radical (so if you think either of them are a bit too left wing, buckle up!). And again this radicalised left will be more interested in screwing Trump voters than fixing America.

They could for example use the same emergency powers Trump has used to ban guns, or enact the green new deal, or stack the supreme court with a dozen millennial liberals (then change the law so congress no longer has any say in appointing future justices). They could go line by line through the US budget and cut anything that benefits Republican voting states. And given that many red states are massive welfare queens, while democrat states often send more money to DC than they spent, this would basically bankrupt many red states, while allowing blue states to take a tax cut, or spend more on public services.

And recall there is one nuclear option that a future sadopopulist left wing government could implement relatively easily, that would utterly screw over the older generations to the benefit millennial’s. Make no effort to defend the value of the pound or the dollar and run the magic printing press and start spending like a sailor on shore leave. But wouldn’t that cause hyper inflation? Ya, that would kind of be the point! You’d quickly wipe out the debts of many young millennial’s while simultaneously wiping out the value of pensioners savings and the assets of the wealthy.

Now to be clear, I’m not necessarily advocating these policies. The last one for example, many governments have tried to use high inflation to wipe out debts and its often run out of their control (just look at Argentina some time!). I’m simply pointing out what will happen if the left starts action like trump supporters or brexiters. Really the best case scenario for both groups is for their respective leaders to be impeached and removed from office and given a lengthy prison sentence. As otherwise I won’t want to be a wealthy conservative (or a pensioner) in about 5 years time.

And while I understand why many want to vote Tory in order to “get brexit done, but as I’ve pointed out before a no deal doesn’t end brexit (brexit is a process not a destination), it simply lengthens the process and makes sure the UK will be over a barrel (once we’ve run out of bog roll, food, fuel and medicines) when it comes to negotiating a future relationship with the EU, USA and other major trading partners (as recent US tariff’s against the UK demonstrate). In truth if you want to wipe brexit from the political agenda, then really the lib dem plan to revoke article 50 is the only thing that would do that.

What does the EU want out of brexit?

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The brexiter’s have been ratcheting up the rhetoric recently, portraying anyone asking for an extension as “surrender“. And a 2nd referendum they say would be “a betrayal”. Such language is extremely dangerous. Its put MP’s and even their kids at risk. Boris is only a few steps away from becoming a dictator. He suspended parliament and is now trying to find a way to suspend laws he doesn’t like, which would set a dreadful precedence. Woe to the Tories should a hard brexit go through, as they are simply inviting any future hard left government to do the same (or worse!).

But is it really a “betrayal” to want to stay in the EU? There seems to be an automatic assumption that the EU wants the UK to stay. I’d argue that if anything the opposite is true. While yes many europeans would want to avoid seeing the UK leave and we’ve had the odd brain fart from European leaders along the lines of maybe the UK should just stay. But these comments are more exasperation at how messy this process has become.

In truth the EU has long resigned itself to the fact the UK is leaving. After all, its not like the UK was ever the most committed member of the block. And with the UK out of the block, yet probably tied to the EU in some way or form (just unable to veto anything Brussels does), is likely seen as the best of both world’s as far as the Brussels eurocrats are concerned. So the EU wants the UK to leave, but leave with a deal of some sorts. Specifically a deal that doesn’t spark a civil war in NI, or potentially one in Scotland either (given the chances of them leaving after brexit).

But, the brexiters say we don’t want a custom’s union, we want a free trade deal. Well a free trade deal was the EU’s opening bid to Theresa May, but the hard brexiters said no to that. Not because of the backstop, this initial offer contained no such thing. But because it meant NI staying in the single market, with the customs border essentially being at the Irish sea. To the Brussel’s eurocrats this seemed the most pragmatic solution to the problem, given the noises coming out of London. After all, NI’s economy is heavily integrated with Ireland’s and any kind of customs checks would cripple its economy overnight….which would probably lead to NI having a referendum and joining the south.

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The EU’s decision making process and why they felt a Canada style FTA might be the only alternative to no deal

Of course just because Brussels offers you an FTA, doesn’t mean you should take it. Its a good solution…for the EU! It would mean that they’d open up trade with the UK just as much as they need too, but restrict trade in other areas. So they’d allow trade in agricultural products and some manufactured goods, allowing EU states to continue to export to the UK tariff free (but with some customs checks), but then restrict access in other areas (such as finance, seems unlikely they’d concede on this after the cum-ex scandal).

Of course if the UK were to sign similar FTA’s with the US and China, then UK companies would be in the worst of both worlds. Required to meet strict EU standards if they want to export into the block, yet still facing custom’s checks and delays at the border. While also facing competition from cheap low quality products flooding the country tariff free from beyond the EU. Inevitably many UK farmers and manufacturers would go to the wall. After that happens the EU, US and China would carve up what’s left of the UK market between them. I mean why do you think Dyson moved to Singapore and Rees Mogg has relocated his hedge fund to Dublin. They know how its going to go down.

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A FTA is better than no deal, but not by much

This is not too say Brussels is opposed to a custom’s union. Far from it! Their concern is, given how the brexiters claim that the EU is undemocratic (this from a party who has suspended democracy and now wants to suspend the rule of law), you can imagine the fuss the UK will make about being in the situation where they are a rule taker, not a rule maker, yet still paying 90% of what it costs to be a fully signed up EU member.

But yes, if a custom’s union can get voted through parliament then the EU would allow it. In fact I get the impression (from the language in the withdrawal deal) the plan was for May to wait until she was in a position to throw either the hard brexiters or the DUP under the bus (perhaps by doing a deal with Corbyn or winning another post-brexit election), then do a custom’s union and thus negate the need for a backstop.

The reality is that there is only one reason why the UK hasn’t left yet, and its because of the Tory party. If anyone has “betrayed brexit” or “surrendered” (to Putin and Trump) its the Tory party. Had they rallied around some soft brexit option (e.g. the Norway or Swiss model) early on in the process, that would have likely been acceptable to the remainer’s within parliament. And recall, May had a majority at the start of this process. She only pissed away that majority in an effort to win a bigger majority as she couldn’t get the hard brexiters to commit to any softer options. And ironically, the Tories current no deal plans effectively imposes the same status on the NI border as the EU originally proposed.

And those hard brexiters are now taking the hard line position they have now adopted because they are trapped. If they don’t leave the EU by Halloween, they’ll lose support to the brexit party. On the other hand they know they can’t possibly meet all the promises they made in the referendum. Any kind of deal will screw over the UK in some way. So better to go for a no deal then, which would please certain wealthy tax dodgers whom they are in the pocket of (the EU’s tax laws change in January, making it harder to dodge taxes and keep accounts secret, any sort of withdrawal agreement would see the UK still subject to EU laws during this period) and blame the negative consequences of a no deal on the EU, remainers and poor people.

Revoke or referendum, the lib dem’s dilemma

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Normally what’s in the lib dem’s manifesto hardly matters, given the very low probability of them ever being able to implement it. However, with them now vying for 2nd place against labour and the brexit party (and a meltdown with more defections from labour is likely due to heavy handed tactics at conference from Corbyn’s red pioneer brigade), it suddenly becomes a little more relevant. And they’ve promised to not only support a people’s vote, but try to revoke article 50 and cancel brexit altogether.

This has drawn criticism from many quarters, even from other remain supporters, such as Caroline Lucas. And while I would tend to agree, the way out of the current mess is another referendum (preferably legally binding with remain and a definite brexit option on the ballot), but that’s easier said than done. While a 2nd referendum is probably inevitable (even if the UK leaves, there will just be another in ten years time to rejoin), it does not follow through that this will resolve the divide brexit has created in the UK.

To illustrate my point let us suppose that a pro-people’s vote coalition either force Johnson out in October, or win an election. Firstly, in order to have a people’s vote, they need to get another extension. And it will have to be a longish one, ideally a year. The brexiters will run resistance at every turn, slowing down legislation and you need time to run the campaign (the electoral commission says a minimum of 6 months will be needed). Plus, while polls do suggest remain would win, you’d have to allow sometime at the end to get the country ready if leave wins a 2nd time (as there will be no stopping brexit at this point, as its a legally binding poll).

This creates the first obstacle. A long extension might be refused. The eurosceptic nations in the EU want the UK to leave, but leave with a deal, hence they’ve been willing to grant extensions up until now. They might well veto one if its for a people’s vote (especially if its a bearded leftie like Corbyn who is the one asking for an extension). And some of the more pro-EU nations might even veto it, calculating that the remainers will not follow through with a no deal and simply cancel brexit instead.

Granted, they may get around this problem, and a clever PM (which rules out Corbyn!) would find a way to bargain with the EU leaders (or just threaten to revoke article 50 and then re-issue it at a time when it will be most inconvenient for Brussels). But next there’s the hurdle of getting a referendum bill through parliament. Remain’s going to be one option on the ballot, but what about the brexit option?

As I mentioned before, the reason why no other EU state has tried to leave and the reason the UK still hasn’t left is that once you take away the unicorns and start getting specific about which brexit option you want (Norway model, reverse Greenland, Swiss plus, Canada dry, etc.) opinion divides, largely because it means accepting that you are worse off out than in. And as noted, polls do show that once you put a specific type of brexit to people v’s remain, remain typically wins by a comfortable margin.

The brexiters, all too aware of this fact, will therefore be reluctant to commit to any specific brexit option, other that perhaps no deal. This appeals to them largely because its kind of a blank canvas and they can paint on any outcome they like. It sounds like a clean break. In truth however, it just means that when we run out of bog roll, food and medicines the EU will have the UK over a barrel in negotiations. As will the US and the Chinese. Plus no deal is likely illegal. Hence putting it on a legally binding ballot might be impossible, as it will likely be challenged in court.

Some talk of a three way ballot or multiple choice ballots. I’d argue that’s risky. It might confuse voters and you can be guaranteed the tabloids, the brexiters and Putin’s trolls will make damn sure they are given incorrect instructions, as they try to game the outcome they want. As a result it could lead to a messy outcome that makes the current situation even worse. I mean imagine if we had two brexit options that each got 30% and remain got 40% and remain wins by a 10% margin. Or a alternative vote ballot, where remain wins the first round by a high margin, May/Corbyn’s deal gets eliminated, but the transferable votes from it allow no deal to sneak through by a few hundred votes (with claims afterwards of several thousand who were given incorrect instructions by Twitter trolls). There would be howls of protest.

Realistically, the only way to hold a people’s vote is with two options on the ballot, some sort of brexit deal and remain. But who will decide on which? And more importantly who will lead the leave campaign? Corbyn has suggested he’d be happy to negotiate a deal (in other words cross out May’s name and insert his!), but will then hide in his allotment shed for the duration of any referendum campaign. While I’m sure May could be tempted to front such a campaign (she’s a glutton for punishment after all), but the leading brexiters, Farage, Johnson, et al will all refuse to participate and they’ll tell their supporters its a remainer stitch up, boycott the poll.

Why you may ask? Well simple Fabian tactics. If you know you are going to lose (and like I said the polls put remain ahead by +10% over most of the brexit options), why fight when you can just march off the field. And for them brexit is a means to an end. If there were to be a 2nd referendum which they lost fair and square by a comfortable margin, they’re finished. As I’ve mentioned before, a 2nd referendum will be something of a grudge match. While Cameron prevented any “blue on blue” attack ads during the 1st campaign, labour and the lib dems will let lose with both barrels.

After all, the best way to win would be to question the motives of those pushing for brexit (i.e. the fact that are involved with hedge funds who will do rather well profiting from the UK’s decline), while pointing to the hypocrisies of the leavers (e.g. that Farage has a German citzenship). Plus do you really want to trust the country’s future to someone like Boris who isn’t even trusted by his own brother. So many of those in the Tory party who hitched their wagon to the brexit train will be forced to resign and the brexit party will be sunk. Even if by some miracle brexit still won they’ll still take a hit, it would still be a zero sum game for them. Better to stay out of the fight and encourage a boycott.

And yes, the outcome of such a scenario will be remain wins by some massive crazy majority (90% sort of thing). But unless the turn out is suitably high (and if you know remain’s going to win anyway, are people really going to waste their time going to the polls?), the brexiters will argue it wasn’t a fair fight and they can ignore it, promising to re-issue article 50 the first chance they get. In other words you’ve not changed anything.

So given such facts of life, the Lib dems proposal to revoke is actually quite pragmatic. There’s no point in holding a people’s vote if its not going to resolve anything. But I would add a caveat. I’d suggest cancelling brexit, by revoking article 50, but putting a grandfather clause in that requires the government to return to this issue after a suitable delay (say 5-10 years after which the government must pass another bill confirming we are staying in or else a legally binding referendum to leave will be automatically triggered). This means they can say to leave voters, look we wanted to have a 2nd vote and settle this issue, but it takes two to tango and the brexiters just took off their dancing shoes and downed a bottle of scotch. So by deliberately kicking the can down the road the current crisis is resolved, but it leaves open the option to return to the issue at some point in the future.

And delaying a 2nd vote does have advantages. While I’d argue it would be hard to hold a fair and balanced poll now, that doesn’t further divide the country, emotions might not be running so high in the future. Given that presumably such a remainer alliance will have by then, ended austerity and gone some way towards fixing the mess left by the Tories (plus issues like the migrant crisis might well be resolved), a referendum can be held under much fairer and more rational conditions. And simple demographics means that many of these swivel eyed no-deal supporting pensioners will have died off, replaced with younger voters (who tend to want remain, or if they are pro-leave, they tend to want a soft brexit).

In fact its entirely possible that even if a Troy/brexit party coalition could get into power in ten years time they’ll come up with some excuse not to have a 2nd vote (because they know that they’ll lose and even if they win they’ll be throwing away their time in office, repeating the mess of the last few years). So while yes, I support a people’s vote, I think we need to be realistic about how it will be held. And revoking article 50 certainly has to be an option that gets considered.

Why has no other country tried to leave the EU?

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I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone from another EU country (Holland) and it led to something of a thought experiment. Why has no other country ever tried to leave the EU?

I mean its not as if euroscepticism is an entirely British phenomenon. There’s been several occasions where populists eurosceptic parties have held a majority in government, most recently in Italy for example. And polls show there’s a possibility such a thing could go through. Yet despite all the vitriol and anti-EU rhetoric they haven’t put their money where their mouth is and tried to hold a referendum and leave, Why? Well the answer tells us more about the UK than it does about the EU.

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Most EU states are governed by constitutions which would require a legally binding referendum be held, prior to leaving, as an absolute minimum. In fact in some country’s you’d have to get a supermajority to approve it (+50% of the entire population, not just those who bother to show up at the polls, by contrast brexit only got the support of 37%). This is in stark contrast to the UK, whose constitution is a bunch of vague guidelines written on goatskin, which seems to assume any politician is going to be an honourable gentleman who’ll put the country first. And if he breaks the rules he gets called a knave and doesn’t get invited to the Speakers annual garden party.

Hence many of the dirty tricks employed by the brexiters to win the 2016 referendum would not be available to continental eurosceptics, as such antics would get them into very serious trouble. Prison time sort of trouble. The UK’s electoral commission has found that the vote leave campaign broke the law during the referendum. The only reason why the result wasn’t annulled by the courts (and why Cummings, Johnson, Farage et al aren’t serving prison terms) is because it was a non-legally binding advisory referendum. Eurosceptics on the continent dislike the EU yes. But very few of them hate it that much that they are willing to risk ending up in a 6×6 cell, sharing prison showers with a massive tattooed guy called Bubba.

Furthermore with a legally binding referendum you’d probably have to specify what kind of brexit you were aiming for. Otherwise it might be at risk of court challenges before a vote is even held. This was another problem with the referendum, the question asked was too vague, you may as well have asked “do you hate the French?” or “is blue your favourite colour?”. This allowed brexit to become a blank canvas onto which unicorns could be painted. Hence brexiters could sell the idea of the UK leaving, yet keeping all the benefits of staying in, without it costing a penny.

Specifying which brexit you are aiming for would present a problem, because much as the UK brexiters can’t agree what kind of brexit they want, European eurosceptics are as equally divided. The odds are such a bill would fail at the first hurdle as they’d not be able to get behind a proposal through parliament to trigger such a referendum. And once they’d nailed their colours to the mast, polls do show that when presented with a specific brexit option (Norway for now, May’s deal, no deal) support ebbs away (as people are forced to weight up the pro’s and cons). And generally remain wins any side by side comparison (because it means accepting you are worse off out than in).

And as many EU states are federations (Germany and Spain for example) with regional assemblies, they’d have to find a way to resolve what happens if say Catalonia vote to stay and Andalusia votes to leave. Not least because in some cases these regional assemblies might have to approve of any referendum before it can be held (which they won’t do until all the what if’s are resolved), not to mention pass the secondary legislation afterwards to allow the country as a whole to leave. Yes there’s usually a way for central government to railroad things through but, suffice to say, this is opening a massive can of worms. One which is firmly labelled “do not open this can, national self destruction may follow”.

And of course even if you can get the initial bill through parliament, get the public to vote for it (by a significant majority) you’ve still got to go to Brussels and negotiate an exit. And for the UK this is where the fireworks started. Basically this means putting on hold all important business so you can conduct the negotiations and push through the supporting legislation to allow for leaving the EU.

The Tories have gotten away with various dirty tricks to drive through brexit, using the dictatorial Henry VII powers, cancelling votes at the last minute, moving forward a vote when you realise several pro-remain MP’s are off sick, bribing MP’s with promises of peerages, stacking the lords with peers to filibuster any anti-brexit legislation and of course more recently proroguing parliament (i.e. suspending democracy), an act now deemed unlawful as its likely the PM lied to the Queen. Very little of this would be legal in other EU states, nor would politicians find it so easy to get away with it.

And given that many countries on the continent have had more recent experience of living under a dictatorship (fascists, junta’s or communists) electorates tend to be a bit more sensitive about this sort of behaviour. Plus because many European government’s are elected by proportional representation, that means they are often coalitions. And the odds are good that such a coalition would fracture under the strain of an EU exit process. So its possible the whole thing will collapse before the process is complete.

Oh and a just for good measure a 2nd referendum afterwards might also be needed to confirm everything (as its likely what was promised will be different from what exit you actually end up with, or you need to confirm constitutional changes with a referendum). And obviously the whole reason why brexiters in the UK are resisting this option is because they know they will likely lose such a vote.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it would be impossible for any other European country to leave the EU. After all many held votes to join in the first place, or approve the various EU treaties. So with enough public support and goodwill its possible. But perhaps that’s the point, there just isn’t the support for leaving (with the possible exception of Italy). Getting the turkey’s to vote to put the charismatic Mr Fox in charge of the hen house is one thing. Getting them to vote for Christmas is an entirely different matter. And given that leaving sounds a lot like hard work (with the added risk of prison time), most populists would rather not bother trying and instead prefer to busy themselves collecting kickbacks and bribes.

But even if populist eurosceptics could drag their country out of the EU, what then? Who are you going to blame when things go wrong? The EU gets a lot of blame for things because its a cheap shot. They are a large faceless bureaucracy and an obvious scapegoat who isn’t going to fight back. And this cuts to the heart of populism, which is basically about avoiding responsibility and blaming others for your own misfortune.

The economy collapses because you voted in a bunch of incompetent politicians who borrowed heavily and spent like sailors on shore leave? Not our fault, its the fault of the EU (who bailed you out, how mean of them forcing billions into your country’s coffers!)….oh and of course recently arrived migrants, its their fault too. Can’t get a council house? Not your fault for voting Tory (who basically stopped building them in the 80’s and sold off most of the stock) its immigrants and refugees coming in and taking them (actually they are no less likely to get one than a Brit). Late for work? Not your fault, its those lazy immigrant bus drivers….and EU elf N’ safety….somehow! This is what populism is all about, blame somebody else for everything that’s gone wrong. Don’t take responsibility for anything.

So if you are out of the EU, and you’ve deported all the migrants, who are you going to blame when things go wrong? Now granted, its pretty clear Johnson’s plan is to blame the EU for the UK’s post-brexit economic misfortune. However the major threat from brexit isn’t the short term dip afterwards, its the longer term consequences. Its going to be a bit rich 5-10 years after leaving for the Tories to still be blaming the EU every time a UK firm goes bust or for a drop in life expectancy. At some point the penny drops and the odds are the UK will simply re-join the EU under terms less favourable than it currently enjoys.

And this is why, despite all the bravado from continental eurosceptics, there’s been no other attempts to leave the EU. They have better things to do with their time than destroy their own parties and getting themselves arrested. We end up with a cat and dog like situation. The cat and the dog don’t like each other, but they just find a way to get along with one another. Its the same thing with the eurosceptics and the EU. The eurosceptic little doggie is quite happy to bark all day, but his bark is worse than his bite. After all it wasn’t Farage who called the referendum, but Cameron (Farage was quite happy to stay on as an MEP and collect his generous salary).

The only reason therefore the UK is posed to leave without a deal….and the chaos and blow back that will inevitably follow, is because of its broken political system. Leave or remain, these flaws will still exist, even if brexit is somehow swept from the political agenda. This is why reform of the UK’s entire political system is what parliament should be devoting its time towards, rather than arguing over brexit. For it is a symptom rather than the disease itself.

Pre-election analysis – the UK’s Trump v’s the rebel alliance

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So its possible we’ll have an early election, thought probably not as early as Boris Johnson wants. He seems to be hoping that by bringing a bit of Trump like behaviour to the UK he can get a majority, allowing him to force through the sort of brexit he prefers…..which might not necessarily be a no deal mind (if he’s got enough seats then he doesn’t need the DUP or the hard brexiters anymore, he could toss both under the bus and put forward May’s deal again, or the EU’s original proposal of leaving NI in the single market, negating the need for any backstop).

The odds are certainly in his favour, he’s 10% ahead in the polls and such tactics have certainly worked in the past, but its not that straight forward. In fact its a very risky gamble. As I pointed out before, such is the unfairness of the FPTP system its mathematically possible for the Tories to win a majority of seats with only 30% of the vote. However, its also mathematically possible for them to finish 10% ahead of anyone else and yet still not get a majority.

Certainly yes, Boris Johnson is good at one thing and it’s lying. He could sell a clapped out VW Bettle by claiming its actually a classic Porsche…which is pretty much a good description of his likely election strategy! However, the Tories have been trying to out UKIP, UKIP for the last two decades and failed every time. Farage, assuming he fields candidates (and given my point above he’d be very naive not to do so) lives in a glass house and can hurl rocks Boris can’t, while promising bigger and better unicorns. To return to my analogy about the used car, he’s going to be across the street at the election selling an actual Porcsche….which he doesn’t actually own…as he’ll basically be pulling the old pig in a poke scam.

So some significant number of voters will defect to the brexit party or UKIP (so even if the brexit party don’t stand, he’ll still lose some votes). And, as perhaps his recent walkabout should have highlighted, there are some UK voters who fundamentally won’t vote Tory. Even among some leave voters this would be unthinkable (in fact some voted leave to give Cameron & the Tories the two fingered salute). Go into the wrong bar in Glasgow, Leeds or Liverpool, tell them you are a Tory and you’ll hear a click behind you as they lock the doors, cos you ain’t leaving the place alive! Now whether this block of voters is 5% or 25% I do not know. But if I were Johnson I’d rather not find out the hard way!

At the other extreme his Stalinistic purges of moderate opponents is causing many to quit the party. Johnson seems to be confusing Tory members (who are pretty gung ho for no deal yes) with Tory voters (who are a completely different kettle of fish). Ruth Davidson’s quitting alone puts nearly all of the Scottish Tory seats in doubt. His own brother now quitting is also crucial, as he was one of the few moderate Tories left in a cabinet post.

And this business of sacking 21 further MP’s for doing something Johnson regularly did himself (including the father of the house Ken Clarke along with Winston Churchill’s grandson!) is going to have quite an impact. There is nothing to stop any of these MP’s (or other previous Tory defectors), from running again as independent Tory candidates. Or they might simply throwing their weight behind some pro-remain candidate in their constituency. Some Johnson crony parachuted in at the last minute is going to have a bit of an uphill struggle getting elected.

And losing votes from both ends is exactly the sort of scenario where the Tories could lose many of the marginal seats, meaning that they win the battle but lose the war (i.e. top the polls but finish well short of a majority). To make matters worse the election isn’t just going to be solely about brexit. Johnson and his puppet master adviser Wormtongue Cummings know this, so they’ve been trying to out Corbyn Corbyn, with lavish promises of money from heaven. Of course given that a hard brexit will depress the economy and pull down tax revenue, its hard to see how he’ll be able to afford current spending, never mind the sort he’s planning.

But while Boris is promising a few million here, a few there, Corbyn’s promising billions. And Corbyn can claim he has a plan to finance this, he’ll go for a softer brexit (or more likely none at all once his party and coalition partners have their say) and put up taxes for the rich. Now granted there’s a few holes in his proposals (which I’ve discussed before), but the Tories can’t get away with using the magic money tree jibe (not that they won’t try of course!), because they need a forest of them after brexit. So its not certain this tactic will work. It could leave them open to attack by lending more credibility to Corbyn’s proposals. And my guess is the public will find Corbyn’s proposals more appealing.

That said, certainly the Tories main election asset is Corbyn. Poll after poll shows that the public don’t like him, he’s not seen as a PM in waiting. And no I’m not a secret Tory or a lib dem (I usually vote either Green, SNP or labour). I’m simply reflecting the opinion of him you’d hear expressed in any working class pub, food bank or greasy spoon cafe. And these are the sort of people who generally vote labour. In Tory circles he’s the spawn of Satan. If there’s one thing that would cause moderate Tories and centre ground voters (who hate Johnson and don’t want a no deal), to lose their nerve and vote Tory anyway, its the thought of a Corbyn premiership.

And Corbyn’s policy of different forms of fence sitting on brexit (while thwarting efforts to block it) is going to be a major problem in any snap election. His official policy is to have an election, win it, negotiate a new deal with Brussels and put that to a people’s vote. The reality is that, while there will be differences between a Corbyn brexit and a May brexit no doubt (as he’ll go for a customs union, which negates the need for a backstop), the differences aren’t huge. Parliament is as likely to vote against such a deal as it was to vote against May’s deal. And a people’s vote will almost certainly result in remain winning by a large margin (meaning Corbyn then has to resign becoming the 4th PM brought down by brexit). And this assumes his party, who are overwhelmingly pro-remain, and his likely coalition partners (even more pro-remain) are going to be okay with putting his progressive agenda and all other business on the back burner for several years so he can sort out brexit.

The obvious hypocrisies of this policy will be exposed and his position will fall apart within the first week of any campaign, leading him to lose votes in all directions. The Tories and brexit party will say he’s pro-remain, the lib dems that he’s pro-leave. And how can we trust a leader whose still not made up his mind about something this important after 3 years? In which case, labour will haemorrhage seats to all its rivals and that could easily tip the scales Johnson’s direction.

The obvious solution therefore would be for labour to go full on pro-remain, forming an electoral alliance with the lib dems, greens and SNP. That would maximise his gains and minimise his losses. The trouble is that Corbyn lives in a bubble and doesn’t understand any of this. And he has a halo around him (as this piece perhaps shows), which stops his supporters seeing the blindingly obvious. If you’ve wandered onto any momentum blog or twitter feed recently they are wall to wall wailing against the lib dems. You’d swear a no deal brexit, austerity and privatising the NHS was their idea rather than the Tories.

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What remainers need……

And recall Corbyn has his own set of defectors, such as the Jewish MP who quit over anti-Semitism some time ago, who recently joined the lib dems. And he plans to field candidates against them next election, even thought they’ve little chance of getting elected….although they might help a Tory get elected in the process! In short, I get the impression that Corbyn and his red shirts are going to turn the next election into the Judean people’s front v’s the people’s front of Judea, with him and momentum playing the role of the crack suicide squad, with the Romans Tories looking on with bemusement.

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…..but what they might actually get

For the price of the inevitable defeat that will follow such a strategy is going to be high for labour supporters. Johnson gets in with a large majority and implements a hard right agenda that makes Corbyn’s hard left policies impossible to ever implement (as everything in the country including the NHS and public services will now be owned by US multinationals, plus they’ll bring in US style voter ID laws that make it difficult for young people or the poor to even vote). A big block of voters will leave the party in disgust and likely never come back (some polls have shown labour slipping to 4th place behind the lib dems and brexit party). He’ll have to resign, the Blairites will take over and his failure will be pointed to for decades as “proof” that such left wing policies are a route to electoral disaster (which I’d argue will be unfair, the problem is that Corbyn is just a crap leader, not necessarily his policies).

So it is all up in the air. Yes Johnson may succeed in turning the Tories into the US republican party under Trump. He might sell a plan to make the UK great again, which turns out to be a plan to turn the country into the 51st state and a somewhat poor and bankrupt one at that! Or he might find the electorate recoil in horror at such a thought and he’s simply given Corbyn the opportunity to sneak into power as head of a remainer rebel alliance. Delaying the election does on paper decrease the probability of the Tories winning, but it certainly doesn’t rule it out. There’s everything to play for, but do the players really want to play?

Brexpiling for no deal

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With no deal brexit looking very likely, the UK is being hit by another wave of brexit stockpiling. Wonderful how brexit created new words, brexodus (EU citizens abandoning the sinking ship), brexsplaining (trying to explain to some demented leave voter that unicorns don’t exist and the EU is not run by the lizardmen) and brexpiling, stockpiling for a no deal.

But, I’ve heard it suggested that we shouldn’t stockpile for brexit because it will effect the poor, who’ll not be able to afford to do so. And panic buying out of fear of shortages could become a self fulfilling prophecy. If everyone runs down to the supermarket and starts grabbing everything in sight, at the same time ports are struggling to ship in supplies, then there will be shortages.

My take on this is that actually stockpiling is perfectly sensible, just don’t go mad. Not stockpiling after all means you trust the nice man from the government to know what he’s doing. And as I’ve mentioned before, the maths don’t look encouraging. Although too be honest if you haven’t made provisions for a no deal brexit by now, you’ve probably left it too late.

I’ve always had a stockpile of food and other supplies at home (some tinned & freeze dried food, camping stove, head torches with spare batteries, med kit, usual) to cover certain contingencies, ranging from bad winter weather, power cuts, to me being lazy and not bothered to go out shopping. I’d argue this is something any responsible grown up should have. Although admittedly given that I do go camping from time to time, its not a like any of these supplies are going to go to waste.

What I’ve simply done is extend this floating stockpile to cover other items that might become scarce or expensive post-brexit (basically anything we are dependant on the EU for). I’ve done this by just buying two of any vulnerable items I happened to be buying, and gradually building up a floating reserve. I’ve also made sure to have an ample supply of items that will likely run out straight away such as Barry’s Tea, Tayto crisps, Irish mustard and a few bottles of any particular alcoholic beverages I might be partial too (got to get the priorities right!).

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The likely scenario, based on leaked government reports (so more project reality than project fear) is that after a no deal brexit there may be shortages of certain items for a few months. Notably anything perishable but difficult to store (fresh fruit and veg, bread, etc. in other words the stuff you can’t really stockpile), although more durable items (cereals, tinned or frozen food) will probably still be available. That said, there will be large gaps on the shelves (hard to be specific, pretty much everything from washing powders to medicines could be effected), as shops won’t be able to restock as easily as they used to before (given trucks will be spending several days in a queue at Calais). The number of choices available will diminish and prices will increase significantly, far more than the rises we’ve already seen.

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And no the government setting tariffs to zero doesn’t help much, in fact it could make things worse. The higher costs reflects not just the tariffs but the lower value of the pound (making it more expensive to buy things in from abroad), the cost of filling out all that extra paperwork and the cost of having a truck sit in a queue for several days. Plus the fact that trucking companies will be reluctant to have a truck effectively parked for several days when it could be making money, so they’ll charge more to do a cross channel run. The only thing setting tariffs to zero will do is make it harder to negotiate beneficial trade deals and screw over UK farmers.

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How serious any shortages become are largely dependant on the EU (if anyone’s taking control, its them). They are proposing to phase in certain measures gradually. Now they are doing so for their own benefit, so they’ll be acting unilaterally without consulting the UK. For example at some point they will decide that UK lorry drivers can’t drive on EU roads without an international driving permit….and there’s two different types covering different parts of the EU (which only covers them for a year), insurance with an EU based firm (more paperwork and more expense!)….and they’ll also need a community license, of which they only issue a limited number per year to non-EU drivers.

In addition there’s a certain X factor to be considered, as issues currently flying under the radar may end up having an unexpectedly serious impact. For example, a product that should be safe from disruption (whisky or beer) might be prone to severe shortages due to a lack of key ingredients (a brewer did mention to me he’s been stockpiling hops as his suppliers are in the EU).

And the government’s crowd friendly, but reckless decision, to bring in immigration controls immediately will probably have a range of serious consequences. As noted, the UK will be heavily dependant on foreign lorry drivers after brexit, so if they are also going to have to go through immigration checks, well you can add a couple of days onto that wait time (a delay of only a few minutes more per truck translates into a massive increase in the queue and hence it takes hours or days longer to get to the front). The UK’s food production is heavily dependant also on EU citizens, notably seasonal workers on UK farms. So any interruption to them coming over will have an immediate impact on food supplies (read a collapse in animal welfare standards followed by mass cullings, crops left to rot in fields, etc.).

And note these conditions won’t simply last for a few weeks or months and then everything will be fine. The worst of the shortages will hit shortly after brexit yes (likely in the run up to Christmas itself), but sporadic shortages will still be a thing afterwards. This will become the new normal. I’m just about old enough to remember what life was like outside of the single market and that’s what’s going to be imposed on us come the 1st of November.

So what we’ll be facing post-brexit will be sporadic shortages and sudden prices rises and a general lowering of standards. You’ll go to the supermarket one day and find they are out of fresh tomatoes, but the place down the road has them, but they are a bit manky or they are just very expensive. Next week, plenty of tomatoes (being sold at a discount so they can shift them before they go off), but no bananas and no aspirin.

What you want might not be available, so you’ll either have to wait (hence the value of a stockpile) or devoting your weekend and days off to shopping around. You might even need to wait until you are going on holiday to stock up (I recall the days as a kid when we’d be back and forth from Ireland to the UK with suitcases or cars crammed with contraband!). You can’t simply expect any more to head down to a supermarket and that what you ever you want will fall into your outstretched hand, at a low price and be of good quality.

Given those circumstances I think you can see the benefits of a well stocked larder. That way if for example you run out of bog roll (one of the items vulnerable to disruption) you’ll be able to avoid the indignity of having to wipe your arse with pages of the Daily Mail (I’ve previously worked out they provide the maximum sheets of paper per cost). Yes you’ll have to replenish your stockpile eventually, but it gives you a bit more flexibility as to when you choose to do so.

What’s that? We’ll get a super trade deal off the US and we can get lots of their cheap chlorinated chicken and meat pumped full of hormones (assuming we agree to sell Trump the Isle of Wight or something). Well you do realise that America is the other side of this thing called “the Atlantic”. It takes several days for ships to travel across and supplies can’t be disrupted by bad weather. And storms tend to be at their worst in winter, which is when the UK is most dependant on food imports. Furthermore most transatlantic shipping bound for the UK currently goes through Rotterdam. So until new port facilities are built, we’re stuffed. So in order to cope, it would be necessary to have large warehouses in the UK to create a floating stock of supplies, which will increase the costs and those costs get passed on to shoppers.

And the price we pay at the till is generally set on a supply and demand basis. Yes the retailer might be getting buying it cheap, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll sell it on cheaply. And frankly, some of that American food I won’t feed to a dog. And given that rules of origin labelling will have been done away with, it will be nearly impossible to tell what’s made in the UK or made in the US, other than buying directly off of farmers (at a farmers market for example, of course that’s kind of expensive). On the plus side, it might encourage more Brit’s to go vegan….if they can afford it!

In fact, given how dependant the UK is on supplies of fresh fruit and veg shipped in from the EU, its here where we are going to get screwed. The US has long subsidised unhealthy calories (i.e. meat and sugar) at the expense of healthy foods (I recall noting while I was there that a pack of burgers or Twinkies cost less than a piece of fruit), so they won’t be much help. Even those coming from beyond the EU are dependant on trade deals signed via the EU (which become void on the 1st of November). And a US trade deal could complicate things, as the US might block any such deals (fearing for example a route via which pathogens can work their way back to the US) and visa versa.

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Of course masses of people, notably those on low income, being forced by a lack of availability and high prices, to switch to a poorer quality diet, with more fatty foods, that isn’t as safe and of a poorer standard, that’s inevitably going to lead to more deaths. And we are talking thousands of extra deaths per year. That is the price of brexit (I don’t know, maybe after all the old brexiters have died off and the UK rejoins we’ll have to put up a monument to those killed by brexit).

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So yes the poor are going to get screwed by brexit, unfortunately that’s inevitable, nothing we can do about that, other than try to get brexit stopped (or contributing to charities). Stockpiling, so long as you’ve had the good sense to do it months ago, isn’t going to chance anything. What you are merely doing is creating a safety net to cushion the blow. But unless you plan on buying a lifetime supply of food between now and Halloween (or maybe take up squirrel hunting!) you can’t really stockpile your way out of this situation. Personally, I’m just going to make a habit of visiting the folks back in Ireland and bringing a bigger suitcase!