Brexit: the Uncivil War

Broadcast on Channel 4 tv, this made for tv film contends that the main story was a political heretic who listened to people more acutely than any other person or group, found the arguments that persuaded people that traditional focus groups didn’t and used new software and major databases such as Facebook’s to determine that the people who felt ignored and/or had not taken enough interest, to vote Leave.  
And people were prepared to believe we’d suffer from a wave of Turkish immigrants.
Have to be careful with a drama that creates scenes to tell the story.
But how much of it do we accept? It mentioned the problems in the labour market, which is often overlooked. It didn’t mention the numbers who just voted against Cameron. It rehearsed the complaints about creating an atmosphere whereby the views of experts were ignored. It suggested the solution might be to re-boot politics in a better way, but didn’t rehearse what that better way might really be.  
And I know I’m repeating myself, but the last proper re-boot we had was WW2 and the Attlee gov’t, which came out of some experience of gov’t making change for a purpose and a new universal deal for all.
Criticism of the film is that the dramatic device of holding the heretic to account in Parliament was not clearly enough understood, and the film does gloss over how the Leave campaign – creating fear of Turkish people and more – was racist.



Turns out I gave a cartoon book on Brexit (highlighting its nonsense) for Christmas, and I received a book off the same ilk.

For a country with so many issues to deal with, the time it has taken up is a reminder of what a distraction it is.
My summary position is –

“Nottingham City Council took a report in November that highlighted the challenges we face by leaving on March 29th – the country is not ready. Nottingham Labour Councillors also re-affirmed our belief that remaining in the EU for our city. Remain also has a clear meaning. “Brexit is Brexit” and “Brexit means Brexit” doesn’t. One is Farage’s slogan. The other is May’s. And neither slogan actually defines the outcome of their intentions. Getting clarity on what kind of Brexit Leavers want would be a new purpose to a further referendum. The other would be to establish whether there is still a majority to Leave. Because we now know we do not have the upper hand in negotiations about trade; that there is not the money that was promised for the NHS; that the agreement that brought peace in the island of Ireland is at risk; that jobs in industry and service will indeed leave the UK. We may also more fully understand the challenge of agreeing new treaties under the World Trade Organisation arrangements, the risk to the future for Gibraltar, and know more about whether the Leave campaign of 2016 was illegally financed. We may find the recent polling (this December) is correct and that the British people, when formally asked, will no longer wish to see the UK leave the European Union.”

I want to weave in a bit on the labour market, cos it’s at the heart of the huge resentment there’s been at places of work.  And now it will ned updating anyway.

As for Labour’s policy, I thought the compromise of explaining how we’d respect the referendum result was to lead to a referendum cos there’d be nothing left and that the views of party and trade union members would lead to advocating a Remain position.  What I didn’t foresee was Labour’s front bench deciding they had to advocate Brexit even more strongly before a vote on May’s deal.  Presumably it will mean embracing the six tests, which I think means the changes from our current status will be that we’re outside, won’t have MEPs or be part of the political processes for where the EU goes next, and have new arrangements on rights to movement.  Even if the EU agrees a deal on that basis, I’m not sure many will see this as much of a deal – all Remainers and many Brexiters will both point out how bad such a deal is from their point of view. 

I actually think the lack of a majority for anything in Parliament, including the hard Brexit, will mean that we’ll withdraw our Article 50 application.  Then – how to resolve the emphasis.  Presumably, the next step is May tries to negotiate the actual deal for December 2020, or we call a referendum find out what people want, on the grounds that it wasn’t clear what kind of Leave was wanted – to which there are now 3 options – a Hard Brexit, a negotiated Brexit on May’s outline, and a Corbyn Brexit – alongside Remain.  

And I think Remain will win.  

Just as an indication of how much Brexit has taken up , here are the links to the blog entries I’ve made since before 2016 –

– Keep thinking about what has happened
– Anti-Brexit demo in the Old Market Square
– Conservative Remainer speaks on Brexit 
– Sausages in Berlin for teatime 
– Speech to full Council on Brexit
– Consequences for Nottingham of Brexit
– Remembrance prayers for those who govern
– Missing out on EU opportunities
– Against Brexit hold a stall in Hockley 
– Have the British changed on EU membership?
– Pitiful
– Three types of Brexit
– Changes since the referendum
– European Movement rally in Nottingham
– Article 50 letter to the European Union
– Paul Blomfield on Brexit
– Supreme Court makes sensible ruling
– Referendum turnout and ward trends
– Mervyn King skewers Project Fear
– SNP did badly
– Referendum result
– Labour IN for the Old Meadows on the eve of the poll
– The Distraction
– Labour IN for the New Meadows
– Two REMAIN campaigns in The Meadows
– Blanks
– Turkey
– Living in your parents’ garage
– Misrepresentation
– Another Europe is Possible
– Identity
– Watch out for those hungry pythons
– The greatest “blue on blue” political attack of the modern era
– Leave Alone
– A difficult separation
– Lilian visits Meadows Muslim Centre for Labour IN for Britain
– Proportion on the doorstep
– Bananas
– Now it’s lies about Turkey
– Lilian IN for Castle Marina
– Labour IN for the Old Meadows in the rain again
– Labour IN for Britain rally in Old Market Square
– Labour IN for the Old Meadows
– The Little Englanders are left gasping
– Passers by speak out
– Paying to be in the European Union
– Glenis and Liz and Labour IN for Britain
– Keeping the UK
– Tony Blair on a referendum that would bring chaos
– And traitors sneer
– Ryder Cup trumps British nationalism
… and more 

Finally, 2 views on the value of the European Union. Possibly a bit unfair to Brexiters cos these authors said slavery twice and might have worked harder on “prodigality”.

Keep thinking about what has happened

I had thought the number of options would be filtered out  but if anything they might have grown.
They now are –
– Remain, requires a withdrawal of Article 50, and for the political welfare of the country, another referendum, although the order of these is not particularly clear.
And then a whole range of Leave options.
– Leave the EU on March 29th, but with an extension of membership benefits until a proper permanent deal can be agreed.  Negotiated by Theresa May and the EU says the only “deal” available.  However, the guarantor of no border on the island of Ireland until a permanent deal is made allows the EU to decide when to “give” Northern Ireland back, so no-one seems very happy.
– Leave the EU as above, but work to be a Norway plus arrangement.  Keep the Single Market, keep the freedom to travel arrangements, still pay contributions.  But if this means joining EFTA, which we help form, but left, this ain’t an option cos Norway don’t want us as a resentful new member who will only disturb what they’ve all settled on.
– Let the Labour Party negotiate a new Leave deal. Labour’s six tests will mean the only thing that will change is that we won’t have any political sway within the EU.  (It also happens to be an approach that the Labour Party membership overwhelmingly disagree with.)
– Crash out of the EU on March 29th, a.k.a. “No Deal”  Negotiate new trade deals with the EU and other countries in time, all subject to the requirements of the World Trade Organisation.  And the news is slowly growing as to how unready we are for this.  
– “Hard Brexit” – not so much an option as a challenge to Boris Johnson and other Brexit now campaigners to say what is they they actually want.  
– Withdraw Article 50 and negotiate a full exit deal. Which will take 2-4 years?

Campaigning with the People’s Vote and Chris Leslie MP.
Meanwhile, new lines of attack have been developed on those of us who want to remain.
– That Remain has only campaigned for another referendum and not set about converting people.  Arguably this is true, not least cos of the ‘respect the referendum result’ mantra, and because we’ve been waiting for people to change their minds, which they have but not decisively, in part cos people say they just want the whole thing over with – which of course it isn’t going to be cos of trade and peace in Ireland.  
– That Remain are missing the point by only harping on about trade.  Well we are worried about trade, but we’re worried about peace in Ireland too.  And staying with Scotland.  But if people voted for political change, worth remembering that the political change was more than we don’t want the EU making the rules anymore.  Cos there were people who voted to get rid of David Cameron.  Cos people who voted for extra money for the NHS – which they did not get.  Cos people may well have voted against the political establishment, which arguably only a General Election will fix.  Cos people voted against immigration – which most of any new trade deals will require.    Cos people are resentful because there aren’t secure jobs anymore – which still no-one talks about; the gig economy and the lump has sustained the impact of the 2008 economic crash.  

I do think Remain will win, but we will need a different campaign, and we will have to use our best talents.

Conservative Remainer speaks on Brexit

Neil Carmichael was speaking at University of Nottingham on an Audit of Brexit, hosted by John Hess. My best effort at a write-up follows. – Carmichael is a Remainer and former Conservative MP. The current crisis is the second whereby MPs of there right had reacted against free trade and both had resulted in prolonged absence from power. No Dealers can’t cope with single market and customs union deal that is required to avoid a hard border in Ireland whilst a further deal is negotiated. No_dealers can’t cope with the prolonged jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Brexiteers are not facing up to the deals that the EU single market already has to cover half of our trade. Notable that the Single Market was designed with Thatcher, and the EU have insisted that come what may, they will defend the single market. The deal the EU is offering is the only deal for March 29th. There is now a blame game. David Davies appears not to have been engaged when Brexit Secretary. The UK has repeatedly misread the EU. So the UK has been outmanoeuvred. Meanwhile, France has been astute at offering good alternative locations for finance and the Republic of Ireland has been better prepared on the border. Meanwhile, we’re missing opportunities for us. The US-China trade spat should have been an opportunity for us. Instead Germany have 4 times more exports to China. And India, the Netherlands is a bigger trader than we, Mother Britain, is. So it’s about individual relationship with countries (rather than asserting the EU has been getting in the way). And it’s not just business. We’ll be out of agreement on tackling crime, and overseeing atomic energy and medicines, the headquarters for which is in England. As for Political Problems, there are several outcomes, all off them implausible, but one of which must happen. 1. The negotiated deal passes through Parliament – currently way short of the votes needed. 2. No Deal – not wanted by the EU, but they are preparing for it; not many votes for it in Parliament. 3. Change the deal – some tinkering to help appearances; but Merkhal had stressed that the EU has other things to think about – Italy and other borders. 4. People’s Vote – Remainers have been struggling with “Project Fear” label;. 1a. Talk of a National Government was noted. 1b/4b. Also of a General Election. [I challenged this presentation – I think it’s Deal, No Deal or Remain – with a referendum only being one of the Remain options – we might have to abandon the exit cos we won’t be ready.]
Notable was the challenges making deals had posed. And whilst for instance, the Indian Leader had talked about preparing for new deal, the leader has insisted that “free movement” must be part of such a deal.

Sausages in Berlin for teatime

“Leaving the European Union is the most fantastic opportunity for the United Kingdom. It means we can have the opportunity of setting  lower tariffs, cheaper food, clothing and footwear, helping the least well-off in our society the most.  The opportunity is being thrown away.  If you look at the deal, our tariffs will be set by the European Union and it will be illegal for us to offer lower tariffs.”

Rees-Mogg continues the Brexit idea that it’s good for Britain with the potential for lots of new lower tariff  trade deals.
Any new deals will not match the sheer scale of what we already have with the EU, and the single market means no tariffs.

“Because if we vote Leave, then we are in a position to dictate the terms in Britain’s economic interests.”

Brexiters are ignoring how hard deals are to reach – during the referendum, Gove said we’d have the upper hand in negotiating a deal with the EU – a kinda 21st century version of “on with the charge and we’ll be sucking sausage in Berlin by teatime!”; instead we could be consigned to the trenches for another 21 months (and we’ve been there 29 months already).

I’m sure it’s true that deals can be faster if for example we say to the USA that we don’t mind eating their chlorinated chicken.

Whatever the arguments are about tactics, we must keep explaining why Remain is the best way forward.

Cos Remain would win a next referendum (Channel 4 survey), and Remain\s support is slightly suppressed by the “let’s just get on with it” mentality.

Cos May announced there are three options –
– the deal;  (which is Brexit, despite what no dealers say);
– no deal Brexit;
– remaining in the European Union.

(She didn’t mention a new Labour minority gov’t negotiating a better deal.   Hmmmm.  Seems Corbyn and MacDonnell like sausage in Berlin too.)

20181115 163400 gb2422h guardian parliamentary voting blocks on theresa may eu deal

The Guardian helpfully publishes a guide to the voting blocks.
(A few more groupings might have been useful, cos I think there is actually a majority for Remain in Parliament.)

Speech to full Council on Brexit

On the speech to the Brexit report, submitted as Chair of Audit, first the BBC Radio Nottingham interview –
Thanks to BBC Radio Nottm for inviting me on to talk about the council’s report on Brexit.
Questioner’s challenge: – why set out the case for Remain? Isn’t it too late to do that?
My answer: I think Remain can still happen, so watch out for the next Treaty negotiation, the December European Council and then the debate in Parliament.
Questioner’s challenge: – shouldn’t you be preparing for Brexit instead?
My answer: that’s what’s in the report – recommendations 3 and 4. But the govt’s assessment has become more serious and the plans to prepare are getting later.
Yep, what I didn’t think the outcome of the interview would be that I put the recommendations in the wrong order.

Now the article based on the speech used to present a report full council, which can be found at –
Thanks to inspiration from Cllr Sarah Piper who commissioned a report on Brexit and how it might affect Nottingham and the City Council, 2 years ago, and which we have refreshed for publication and debate today.
A good deal of the report is handed over to the negotiations on Brexit and how they are evolving.
The Theresa May deal is the least certain, but in essence says, give ourselves another 21 months as we are – except political representation whilst we work out a new deal.  Note, the EU deal with Canada took 7 years.
But Minsters who know what that might mean, suggest to carry all the advantages, it means committing to a regime where we carry all the future EU commitments with a much reduced say.
Colleagues might be most concerned by the specific consequences for Nottingham.
But I want to start with …
Emergency Planning
Preparing Emergency plans to cover the weeks running up to March 29th has become a major concern.
  Over the weekend, it became clear that our military forces were being called upon to help out.
Contrast with in June, when concerns, if they were mentioned at all, mainly focused on huge delays at ports in Kent.
Because emergency planning has to plan for the worst, and leave us to do the hoping for the best, you do have to be wary of turning the volume to 11 when discussing the emergency planning.
But by September, it was clear that planning is having to cover failures of supplies to reach factories and offices; and failures of supplies to shops, including food and medicines.
We don’t know too much more, but it would seem national guidance has been slipping.
= Key Challenges =
The identifiable challenges and risks for Nottingham and the City Council, are –
Is it “No Deal”, or an agreed transition period, or what?
29th March 2019 is the date if we leave without a deal with the EU27.
31st December, 2020 is the date for either still “No Deal”, and a new deal based perhaps on the Canadian model, or a date by which we already know we’ve extended the transition, or a further failure to agree.
* final agreement content:
* The Pound:
* Inflation;
Economy: the removal of 750 or so trading treaties, with significant delays to be expected in reaching new ones, will affect growth, the ability to export, the timeliness and posts of imports; the desirability of Nottingham for inward investment; growth is expected to fall;
European Structural Investment Funds: their loss will cut off useful alternative routes for external funding when national government has been less supportive;
Skills: the impact on changes to the labour market to being able to fill posts;
Public spending: a smaller economy will lead to even lower public spending;
= City Economy =
European Structural Investment Funds:
(ESIF) money for this round of EU funding round (2014-2020) via Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2)’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for 2014-2020 is £214.3m.It is unclear where other similar sources of funding will be available post-Brexit.
EU funding: Nottingham had received at £190 million of EU funding since 2000;
Nottingham has benefitted from alternative funding being directed to us, when the national gov’t has directed funds to better off places.
University Research:
Our universities have been part of Europe’s drive on science which has taken it to being bigger than the USA or China.Now the ability to draw on EU research grants – worth £20 million – is compromised.
Exports: around 45% of our exports goes to the EU;
Company ownership: 2 years ago, out of 205 local companies that have group ownership overseas, 80 had parent companies in the EU;
Lower Growth:
Nottingham is the 22nd (of 62 UK cities included) most impacted by a ‘hard’ Brexit at -2.4% GVA (-1.2% for soft) over ten years.  The model used underestimates the negative impact in industries where foreign investment is more important than trade barriers.
= City Council Treasury Management =
Risks identified 2 years ago need a re-statement since many of the issues concerned short term investments and then current events.
= More widely =
The status of the British border with the Irish Republic and potential threats to the Good Friday agreement is a very widely held public concern.
It’s why the UK and the EU 27 need a backstop on their current “Hold-it-off” deal.
In the seventies, and eighties and nineties, we wondered if “The Troubles” would ever go away?
Now we wonder how anyone could risk them coming back.
A shame to see the DUP back saying “Never”.
Is Remain still possible?
I thought it was right to re-state our position, if only because if it all goes wrong, people will ask why didn’t we say so?
I’ve also seen the question phrased as can Brexit be stopped?
Whichever way, with 3 separate groups in Parliament – “No Deal”, “Theresa’s deal” and “Remain” – and with none of them having a majority, just how is it all going to pan out?
The risk now for Parliament is that MPs will not acknowledge that support for “Remain” is stronger, and it only lost by 4 points in the first place.
90% of Labour party members want “Remain”; 70% of Labour voters want “Remain”.
No surprise here, because Labour and the trade unions have come to value the European Union in ways we didn’t in 1975.
We found the regulation, defending terms and conditions and the industries and services that added value to our taste.
We valued alternative perspectives to Thatcherism and was is sometimes called neo-liberal economics.The greener approaches on the environment and mitigating climate change.
And we came to understand that being one of 9, has changed and we are now one of 28. A remarkable achievement.
Some of it we’ve been less comfortable with.  The ECJ judgement of 2005 on paying native minimum wages; the golden rules on public spending; the Euro.
But the nearest I’ve heard to a Lexit argument has been “we used to call it a Capitalist club”.
And what we know is that what is coming is not a Lexit, but an opening of Britain to a free trade undermining our manufacturing and services in a new way, with more tax breaks for the very rich which the working people will have to pay for, and American stands on food – e.g. chlorinated chicken.
So we merely re-state that we are Remain
Cos if we hadn’t have put it in, people would have asked us.
Now some say it’s anti-democratic to have another referendum.
Can we really not change our mind?
But we don’t have to say how “Remain” will come about, cos we don’t yet have to.
We can wait to see what the options are after [a summit, and then the last meeting of the Council of Ministers].
We don’t even know if the Commons has given itself the space to call a General Election, because 1/3rd of members is all it takes to block it.
But could “Remain” even win a referendum?
Well, if there is another referendum, no-one could countenance “Remain” not being an option on the ballot papers when Channel 4 recently showed “Remain” would win.
It’s what the majority now want.
In part cos it will have only taken a few people in every hundred to have changed their mind.
But also because people who didn’t vote so much last time, typically the under-35s, are going to vote in bigger numbers, in the next.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that striking a deal was going to be easy?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that the UK would have the commanding position in the negotiations cos the EU needed us?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that there was all this money waiting to be given to the NHS?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that manufacturing, especially brought in from abroad, wasn’t going to leave us?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that the British border with the Irish Republic wasn’t going to be a problem?  No.
Because, could “Leave” ever argue again that bananas could not be sold in bunches bigger than 3?  No.  Well actually they might.
We say No, No, No, No, and No, and that we’ll have to be better next time for the stuff that’s bananas.
The Channel 4 survey shows that alongside Rushcliffe, Derby would now be Remain, Broxtowe would now be Remain, Gedling would now be Remain,
And Nottingham would now be Remain.
The Recommendations
Are much plainer and simpler.
That Audit committee receives assurances that all council project and service plans have assessed the risk of Brexit to their objectives and ability to deliver.
That Audit committee receives progress on the emergency planning for Brexit.
Both, probably, in the new year.
Because as those at the Remembrance service yesterday know, those of us who carry the burden of government were prayed for, but might people in the spring have will expected us to have prepared, rather than rely on their prayers.