Category Archives: Politics

Be careful what you wish for

Rafael Behr makes an obvious point:

And it isn’t obvious that the Brexit ultras would want to be in control of the process now. Then they would have to negotiate, to own the compromises and explain the disappointments. They would no longer have the luxury of crying betrayal from the sidelines, which is all they really know how to do.

It’s long been apparent (to me) that, with the referendum, the Brexiters achieved what they campaigned for but not what they wanted.

Blaming the EU for all of your country’s ills is both easy and comforting. But once you’re out, you will have to start taking some responsibility.

This, of course, is the fundamental problem into which all populists eventually crash. Finding a scapegoat is easy, but when the scapegoat is gone and the problems still persist, who or what will you blame next?

Flattr this!

Quote of the Day: Eternally outraged

Mrs May and her cabinet are daily lambasted by their opponents and the same hyperbolic language tends to be employed over any issue, whether it be significant, second rank or trivial. Words such as “shameful” and “disgrace” and “despicable” are hurled around in parliament, in broadcasting studios and even more so on social media. They are thrown about in such a routine, ritualised way that the words are losing their power to sting ministers on the occasions when excoriating language is entirely deserved. The trouble with using the vocabulary of outrage to describe everything about this government is that it makes it harder to nail ministers when there is an authentic scandal. It is making it easier for Ms Rudd and Mrs May to weather this one.

Andrew Rawnsley

Flattr this!

Money for Nothing

UK government paid consultants £680K for Brexit customs plan

Government records show the U.K. tax authority, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), spent £680,000 on a contract with consultancy firm McKinsey & Company to, among other things, assess the “commercial feasibility” of the “new customs partnership model.” That is one of two customs proposals put forward by U.K. Brexit negotiators last week in talks aimed at avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The customs arrangement designed by McKinsey was, of course, dismissed as unworkable as soon as the rest of the EU saw it.

Hiring consultants is like wishing really hard. It doesn’t mater how much you spend — or how much you wish — the impossible will remain impossible.

Flattr this!

Quote of the Day: The consequences of inaction

It is not provable whether earlier intervention would have altered the course of Syria’s tragic history. Non-interventionists said then, as they say now, that anything that the west does only makes things worse. That we can’t prove either. What we can see is how bad things have become and it is hard to conceive how exactly it could be worse. After seven years of failing to act in Syria, we can audit where a non-interventionist policy has got us. It has been an utter disaster in every respect.

Andrew Rawnsley

Flattr this!

Quote of the Day: Moderation vs Devotion

But moderation is not just a dilution of someone else’s ideal. It is the discipline that tests the merits of one idea against a sincere evaluation of its opposite. And the centre is not just a mid-point on the spectrum from left to right, liberal to conservative. These days it is better understood as a culture and a habit of mind. It is the place where holders of divergent opinions can meet without becoming implacable enemies.

Rafael Behr

Flattr this!

Superficial, pointless and wrong

There has already been plenty of response to the news that British passports will[ be dark blue after 2019. For me, this story underlines wrong with the various claims made by the Brexit lobby.

Firstly, of course, there is the fact that this is yet another case of ignoring reality in favour of a bunch of symbols of a world that no longer exists — and probably never did.

Secondly, the claim that the burgundy passport was imposed on the UK is flat-out wrong. There is no requirement for passports to be burgundy and no-one would have batted an eyelid had the UK decided to issue dark-blue EU passports, just as no-one bats an eyelid Croatia’s dark blue EU passports. Indeed, Charles Powell has confirmed that it was the Thatcher government that chose to ditch the blue passport.

This Brexiter obsession with superficialities like passport colour sums them up perfectly. It is a pointless and illogical obsession based on a complete failure to understand where we are today and why. The previous passport layout was determined by the League of Nations back in 1920 and the size and layout of modern passports is determined by the needs of international airports (as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the UN).

Brexiters have nothing. Everything they have promised has been shown to be a lie and they are reduced to either clutching at nonsense like this or pretending that a referendum result is somehow inviolate and unchangeable.

As David Davis once said, if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.

Flattr this!