Election Special

It’s broader than that. In fact, let’s include the amazing recent election in Hong Kong:


I thought it might be nice to try and get a bit philosophical about democracy and its limitations, not least for a UK climate sceptic tomorrow, and indeed since Thatcher talked to the Royal Society about AGW in 1988:

Three issues mentioned but not Brexit. On that thorny issue I enjoyed this interaction last month with an old physicist, financial director and climate sceptic:

But that’s just me. How do any of us regard the choices tomorrow?


  1. The backstop js gone

    OK. If I’ll send next year a container from Liverpool via Belfast and Dublin to Rotterdam, where does it get customs control?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tore my postal vote up – frustrated at doing it incorrectly several times (I’m sure they are making it more difficult each election). Not too worried, any vote not Tory, would be wasted in my constituency and I wouldn’t want to give Boris any more encouragement. Max Ehrmann said it best -“Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.”
    as well as –

    “No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. ”
    “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world”


  3. When asked how I’m voting tomorrow, the answer is “in an attempt to do the least harm, with no enthusiasm, with deep regret and great sadness, and some self-loathing.”

    Never before (and I first voted in a general election in 1983) have I been confronted with such an appalling bunch of half-wits. Never before have I been so depressed by the state of UK politics.

    Thanks for letting me get that out of my system!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve said before, I think the EU has taken its toll on UK politics. Parliament are little more than place holders bickering over the crumbs of power. Hopefully, the opportunity of making a real difference might inspire a new generation.

    On the issue of GI etc, I came across this little 80s gem on Youtube recently with a paltry number of views considering its modern day relevance. The wheel of time turns and ages past rise again, this time with social media backup.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Some thoughts on the polls:
    People often claim first past the post is unfair on minority parties, but consider this:
    – The SNP, with 4% of the vote, may wangle a referendum that will dismember the UK, against the wishes of the vast majority of electors.
    – the very existence of the Brexit Party, with 4% of the vote, will ensure that the Conservative government can never ever contemplate rejoining the EU.
    – The Greens, with 2-3% of the vote, will determine our energy policy, and therefore our economic and industrial strategies and continue to destroy the countryside for decades to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hans Erren
    That’s an easy one: between Belfast and Dublin, which is the only time it crosses a customs frontier. And it will have to go to Cork, since Dublin doesn’t have a container port, and from there probably to Roskoff, and by lorry on to Holland.

    The problem comes in the other direction: Britain has declared it will put tariffs on very few items, mentioning cars and steel. How on earth will the constabulary know whether that car transporter loaded with Renaults and VWs winding through the leafy lanes of Fermanagh isn’t from a Dublin showroom, delivering to clients in Belfast? The best minds in Brussels have been puzzling over this for three years and haven’t found an answer.


  7. Mark:

    Thanks for letting me get that out of my system!

    That was definitely part of the purpose! Same goes for Jaime. And anyone.


    The Greens, with 2-3% of the vote, will determine our energy policy, and therefore our economic and industrial strategies and continue to destroy the countryside for decades to come.

    It’s not just the 2-3% is it? I think there’s a larger, mushier floating vote that will punish anything called ‘climate change denial’ that simply hasn’t got to grips with this:


  8. There was a broader, related thing for me here as well: honouring the wrong people and its deleterious effects. TIME pandering to the Greta bandwagon led to this canny response this evening:

    Rather more importantly, but along the same lines, we think we know about the Holocaust but how much does one ever hear about the one country outside Denmark that managed to save almost all its Jews?

    Tracy-Ann is an East Enders actress and is seriously concerned. So are these people:

    The UK Left is for me out of control. I don’t even have much sympathy any more for those on Twitter saying “I’m politically homeless.” (Radical feminists who used to vote Labour often say this.) You have to vote intelligently against this extremism. In doing so you’re not saying that Boris is a perfect moral specimen or that his compromises on Brexit will somehow lead to Nirvana. But look at what Hong Kong is fighting for and do your bit.


  9. @ DaveJR 11 Dec 19 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for that link, as you say “this little 80s gem on Youtube recently with a paltry number of views considering its modern day relevance” is revealing & relevant today.


  10. @Richard Drake 11 Dec 19 at 11:32 pm

    loved the “Scoldilocks” bit, sometimes we all need berated by our peers & high priests to change our sinful ways 😦


  11. Well, I’m looking forward to not having to clear bits of paper off the doormat every morning. About 30 so far, a result of being in a marginal constituency.


  12. About 7 to date – the result of being in a Tory fortress surrounded by a near-uniform blue expanse with a drum-beat cacophony of “Get Brexit Done!” Is there any other life?


  13. Someone should re-scale that timeline & reverse it so it starts now and ends at about 1730. (Anyone know the provenance of that diagram? If it’s a sceptic’s satire, then comment duly withdrawn.)


  14. I’m taking it that, like the last few elections, the exit poll is accurate. So we will be leaving the EU under the Johnson deal. And I entirely agree with Dennis: this was our only hope of escaping the EU Green New Deal, as revealed today:

    Barely 10 days into her job, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today presents her signature Green Program to the European Parliament. It includes: a climate law committing the bloc to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and to boost the bloc’s 2030 climate targets; a carbon border tax; up to €100 billion to finance the transition, as well as sectoral initiatives spanning agriculture, transport, energy, chemicals, construction and more.

    Something to fight for, at least.


  15. Best of luck regaining your nation. I hope that the wave of liberation starting in the United Kingdom grows into a worldwide tsunami for liberty and sweeps the entire world.


  16. Brexit Party voters have enabled at least two Labour holds so far. Very silly. Tribal signalling beats actually solving the effing thing.


  17. Watching SkyNews for several hours has helped clarify some thoughts I’ve long been trying to formulate about technology and its effect on our ways of dealing with complex information, including the climate non-debate. Briefly, the digital revolution of (when was it – the eighties?) abolished the need to do mental arithmetic and therefore the ability to calculate. The continuation of this revolution has been mainly about improving the visual representation of the calculations we no longer need to do, or know how to do. (No wonder the word “iconic” has come to mean no more than “awesome.”)

    Two examples from Sky News: For at least a couple of hours the shifting figures at the bottom of the screen showing projected seats, gains and losses, and percentage of vote, had Labour on 48% and Conservatives on 32%. For two hours, it was up there in red and blue, and nobody noticed. Clever visuals turn you blind.

    Then this morning, the figures for gains and losses of seats in Scotland had Kate Burley puzzled. Liberals had zero net losses. How could that be, she wondered aloud, when the Liberal leader had lost her seat? Then someone explained that (+2) + (-2) = 0.

    Over on the BBC the journalist was walking over a map of Britain projected on the floor, illustrating the Tory success by claiming to be able to walk all over Northern England without straying from the blue. Except it wasn’t a map, it was a beehive diagram, with each constituency represented by a hexagon. Nice problem in topology, but nothing to do with anything except the journalist’s fascination with his latest techno-toy.

    You’ll have noticed how simple illustrations of climate change like graphs of temperature rise or Arctic sea ice area have been replaced in the media discussions by gimmicky icons; an ever-widening spiral for the sea ice and a rainbow-coloured bar code for the temperature rise, with nine of the ten reddest bars up at the right hand end. These gimmicks, both invented by a climate scientist called Hawkins, I believe, have replaced the visual tools of rational analysis the way emojis have replaced the verbal expression of human thought. Iconic, innit?

    Liked by 4 people

  18. UK just voted to become an EU colony – probably prior to being forced to rejoin as a member. UK just voted for the most damaging austerity policy in its history – no gas boilers/cookers, no petrol diesel cars, vans or motorhomes, no jetting off on foreign holidays, no more lamb or beef dinners, hugely expensive electricity – starting in 2020. I’m going to spend the rest of my days saying ‘Stop complaining – you voted for it’. Although I’m thinking of getting out now, while I still can and leaving the rest of you Britons to enjoy the fruits of ‘democracy’.


  19. No Beth, really, really blue (except Scotland which is now really, really, really yellow.)


  20. I’m hoping Boris will now be true to character and flip flop on the net zero nonsense. The Tories should be pressured to look again at the Climate Change Act and listen to other scientists than those in the government employ. Ever the optimist!


  21. The experts got it wrong yet again. A team of experts was organised by experts from the Political Studies Association, including expert Joe Greenwood from LSE and expert Associate Professor of political sociology Stephen Fisher from Oxford.

    The median expert prediction was that the Conservatives would get 326 seats. Almost half the experts thought that they wouldn’t get a majority, and “The main beneficiaries of the decline in Conservative support would be Labour and the Liberal Democrats”. This was posted at LSE on Dec 10th, just two days before the election.

    Full details of the expert survey are here at PSA. Of the 380 experts, the vast majority (298) were academics. Table 15 there shows that the academics (predicting 323 Tory seats) did worse than the non-academics (predicting 331).

    See this twitter thread:


  22. Boris is a One Nation Tory nutter who thinks he’s the new heir to Blair. In some ways he is. He is not, just like Blair, the genuine change that Britain desperately needs. He lies like Blair. He has charisma but absolutely no substance and, just like Blair, he will lead the country into even deeper ruin after an already disastrous Tory premiership.

    He said: “You the people of this country voted to be carbon neutral by 2050, and we’ll do it. And you also voted to be Corbyn neutral by Christmas by the way, and we’ll do that too.

    “You voted for all these things and it will now be this Government’s, this people’s Government’s and our solemn duty to deliver in each and every one of those commitments and it is a great and heady responsibility, a sacred trust for me and every newly elected MP.”


    Nobody voted for that crap, but he arrogantly assumes they did and he will pursue Treason May’s ‘legacy’, the last poisonous gasp of her failed premiership, with dogged determination, as indeed he will ensure that her detestable withdrawal agreement becomes a ratified treaty, possibly even before Christmas.

    Voters were warned. They took no notice.


  23. Geoff: ‘Labour on 48% and Conservatives on 32%. For two hours, it was up there in red and blue, and nobody noticed. Clever visuals turn you blind.’

    I noticed this, but I assumed it was legit. The line containing these figures within the rotating stats at the bottom of screen, was I think the evolving share of the vote in the seats declared so far (just like the seat-count line that followed it in rotation, was also evolving with the declarations). Because only 4 or 5 of the racing seats had actually declared for a long period, and these were mainly labour, the share of vote was stuck at about this ratio (it did change I think, recall 48 / 34 at one point?), until a more representative scatter of seats started to flow in. I didn’t take a lot of notice and went to bed before the declarations had gained much pace, but I doubt this was an error.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Oldbrew: ‘How many Tory remainers are still going to be elected?’

    Theoretically none, in terms of the deal on the table. Boris ensured that each and every one of his candidates for the election sign a pledge to say they agree (and will vote for) his Brexit deal, and this was a public part of the campaign such that it would be very hard for any of them to backtrack on that pledge.


  25. That’s exactly what it was, Andy. The share of the vote from the current seats counted.

    The biggest outcome as I see it is that Labour can no longer depend on the North voting red while they pander to everyone else.


  26. I’m even more pessimistic than James and if, as I suspect, the WA treaty gets ratified very quickly, unamended, I will also be furious as hell. Because that will mean at least one year as an EU colony, probably more and a ‘free’ trade agreement and future relationship which will leave the UK very closely aligned to EU rules. It will be almost like we never left and it is not inconceivable that a future government will rejoin. My vote to Leave in 2016 will not just have been ignored, it will have been spat back in my face by a bunch of Tory toffs who now absurdly claim to represent the working classes of this country. I would love for my deep pessimism to be misplaced but in 6 months I predict either an extension to the transition or a FTA with full alignment to EU rules which effectively wipes out any benefits of leaving.

    God knows I would never vote for Labour today but Labour politicians in the past saw the dangers of EEC membership. For 46 years, including the last three and a half years, Tory politicians have plotted and schemed to keep Britain closely tied to the EU federalist project. Boris, I predict, will be no different – and we will get all the Green crap on top.


  27. Jaime, I too have, like Tony Benn et al, foresaw the threat of the EEC to the marxist paradigm (but also to the democratic essence, like Margaret Thatcher) , and voted against in 1975. The labour party embraced EEC purely as a knee jerk response the Maggie’s hostility. The rules of the E.U. would now negate most of the current marxist labour manifesto! Thus Corbins indifference during the referendum.
    The E.U. is now facing an existential crisis as Germany fragments politically and it is imperative that the UK is a non member when the crisis hits. Boris will deliver this whatever. Forget the intricacies of the withdrawal agreement, they no longer matter. Macron wants the UK out of the union before he has the opportunity to take control of the acquis. The global warming narrative is about to implode as the actual real consequence of “Zero emissions” will become apparent. What was the green partys vote in the GE? What will be the outcome of COP 25? Also ask yourself a question…… If the UK was not a member of the E.U. and the question was “ should we join?” what result would we get?
    Brexit, in any form, is the crucial question of the time and it has just been answered.


  28. Do the way it looks to me is that Britain made the best choice available. The 2050 fantasy goal will fail due to basic engineering will run into Pielke’s iron law at some point.
    Being under the thumb of the EU’s authoritarian bureaucratic thumb today and the foreseeable future was the biggest challenge. Was it a complete beautiful victory? Such things only exist in movies or propaganda. This election, if not betrayed, was a huge step in the right direction.


  29. I was relieved but not happy. Jaime is right about the Tories and the EU, climate policies etc. Ted Heath took us into what was then the Common Market by deception, Major advanced the agenda by signing us up to Maastricht, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/24/john-major-full-gloat-defeating-rebels-maastricht-european-union.

    There was a Conservative proposal for a referendum on Lisbon, but it was defeated and this time it was Labour, with Gordon Brown tightening the knot: https://www.heritage.org/europe/report/the-eu-lisbon-treaty-gordon-brown-surrenders-britains-sovereignty

    In terms of climate policies, Deben, (Gummer) was at Kyoto, as was Labour’s John Prescott. Gummer, at the time was described as the best environment secretary ever by Friends of the Earth. Cameron started the Conservative “Quality of Life” silliness, led by Gummer and Zac Goldsmith. Whilst not a name in this grouping, Oliver Letwin has always been behind the scenes pushing “green” policies. https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/11/zac-goldsmith-and-oliver-letwin-gove-has-the-right-plan-to-protect-the-environment.html

    “The Withdrawal Bill will face challenges as it moves through Parliament. Hundreds of Amendments have been tabled, dealing with a very wide range of issues. Many of those amendments relate to the environment. We have been working closely with colleagues such as Richard Benyon, Theresa Villiers, Kemi Badenoch and others – as well as the leading environmental campaign organisations that crafted those amendments.”

    He stood down at the election and Goldsmith was beaten by the Liberals.

    “David Cameron has been building on solid foundations in making the environment a Tory cause.”

    I think Boris may well follow in his father’s footsteps, Stanley is an “environmentalist” and a former Eurocrat. Sister is also very “green”. Brother Jo stood down this time.


  30. I’ve been in Zhou Enlai mode on this: too early to say. But I’m sure Jaime’s wrong to be so depressed. Dominic Cummings understood the Northern voter and, as his old foe in the 2016 referendum Craig Oliver admitted on the BBC on the night, Boris has achieved something that David Cameron never dreamed of: uniting the Tory shire vote with the old Labour northern one. As a result Boris has got a Thatcher-size majority without any of the hard-won achievements of Thatcher – well, apart from his career-risking role in the Vote Leave campaign itself. That is historic. The consequences will depend on a lot of things we cannot know, not least how good the PM turns out to be. Hence my Zhou Enlai stance on much.

    But on climate policy, so called, I do have something to say, thanks to the premier journalist who was brave enough to challenge transgender ideology, earlier than anyone else. Janice Turner was born in Wakefield and counts Doncaster as her home town, both of which fell to the Tories this time. This is part of what she wrote today (Times paywall, sorry):

    A Doncaster businessman described the amazing community flood relief effort as “the spirit of Brexit”. Here Brexit means: “We’re far from power, can’t rely on anyone, so we’ll do it for ourselves.” Whereas Sophie Wilson, the losing Momentum Labour candidate for Rother Valley, when asked how she’d help flood victims, replied: “First we must address climate change.” OK, Greta, but that doesn’t clear sewage out of my kitchen cupboards. When Labour puts ideology and virtue-signalling above practical politics, voting Tory ceases to be such a big reach.

    Do you detect a bit of distancing from Greta there? I do. And I think it reflects very strongly the views of the new Tory voters in these areas. Jessop and Delingpole are dead right that these people didn’t vote for net zero by 2050, or anything like it. And I think that new, hardy, realistic set of voters (and brave pundits like Turner that truly represent them) really matters. Count me encouraged.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. It’s all very weird at the moment. Leave supporters are absurdly optimistic, in my opinion, about Boris’ ‘historic’ victory, hailing it as the ‘Revenge of Democracy’. Meanwhile, climate alarmists, who should be rejoicing at Boris’ commitment to deliver Absolute Zero by 2050 and to keep us closely aligned to EU rules and regulations (in particular, environmental and climate change laws) are depressed about the Tory landslide and even more depressed now by the abject failure of COP25. There really is no pleasing Greens. Their raison d’etre is to whinge and moan, weep and moan and predict gloom, doom and more doom and gloom. It’s fine to be pessimistic (like myself) but it should at least be evidence-based, as indeed should optimism.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I’m with Richard – I’m less worried about the Tories’ commitment to climate action than Jaime is here and Ben often is on twitter. If you read the manifesto, OK there is the meaningless target of net zero by 2050, thrown in there to try to attract some green votes, but there’s very little substance other than planting a few more trees and keeping air and water clean. Nothing about banning cars or gas boilers. Most of it is Boris bluff, bluster and bullshit.

    See this post by Paul Homewood



  33. “Meanwhile, climate alarmists, who should be rejoicing at Boris’ commitment to deliver Absolute Zero by 2050 and to keep us closely aligned to EU rules and regulations (in particular, environmental and climate change laws) are depressed about the Tory landslide…”

    They sense, rightly if not altogether consciously, that while all parties with actual MPs support very strong emissions reduction policies currently, landscapes can change as the political landscape just did in the UK, and if such a change were to take place on climate policy, in the UK it would happen on the right. It would emerge from a different conservative party, and from a newly widened support base who will put pragmatism ahead of harmful idealism; after all, they just did. However if such does occur, it will not be for a long time; everyone will be focused on the nearer term completion of Brexit and the challenging constitutional issues, for some years.


  34. I just checked. Boris’ Bonkers Boiler Ban 2020 for new builds is not an actual fact, but the proposed uplift of building regs comes pretty close to it. I’ll probably do a post about this if I get the time. It will be interesting to see what the final legislation looks like, but either way, the shift towards low carbon is inexorable and is, of course, UK law, thanks to Mrs May. It’s going to take a political earthquake to shift this government and future governments away from this obsession with zero carbon.


  35. Jaime: We just had a political earthquake. What it will be used for by the PM, the cabinet and Tory MPs, hopefully with input from #ClassicDom (and we should come back to that, with our good science and engineering hats on), is the only question.

    On which, Andy:

    They sense, rightly if not altogether consciously, that while all parties with actual MPs support very strong emissions reduction policies currently, landscapes can change as the political landscape just did in the UK, and if such a change were to take place on climate policy, in the UK it would happen on the right. It would emerge from a different conservative party, and from a newly widened support base who will put pragmatism ahead of harmful idealism; after all, they just did.

    Yes, exactly. For example, the problems in Spain show that promotion of XR and Greta was always a move from weakness.

    However if such does occur, it will not be for a long time; everyone will be focused on the nearer term completion of Brexit and the challenging constitutional issues, for some years.

    I’m not sure it will necessarily take too long for a subtle shift in priorities to become visible. The past problems with ‘completion of Brexit and the challenging constitutional issues’ had a load to do with trying to operate within a hung parliament. There again, the EU has never wanted to make our exit easy. It is, as I already said, too early to say. But it’s a very welcome change of context for our ignorance.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. On Jaime’s comment:

    “It’s all very weird at the moment. Leave supporters are absurdly optimistic, in my opinion, about Boris’ ‘historic’ victory, hailing it as the ‘Revenge of Democracy’. Meanwhile, climate alarmists, who should be rejoicing at Boris’ commitment to deliver Absolute Zero by 2050 and to keep us closely aligned to EU rules and regulations (in particular, environmental and climate change laws) are depressed about the Tory landslide and even more depressed now by the abject failure of COP25. There really is no pleasing Greens. Their raison d’etre is to whinge and moan, weep and moan and predict gloom, doom and more doom and gloom. It’s fine to be pessimistic (like myself) but it should at least be evidence-based, as indeed should optimism.”

    I can give a bit of evidence for why the Green Blob might be nervous about a Conservative government with Boris as Prime Minister.

    The first is that Boris actually declared himself as being a global warming sceptic in a Daily Telegraph article written back in 2006 (free-to-view as the Telegraph’s current paywall system does not apply to articles from that era):


    On the basis of that article, and assuming he hasn’t significantly changed his mind since then, Boris would be the most sceptical Prime Minister regarding climate change that we have had in the UK since Margaret Thatcher started the whole climate change malarkey back in 1987. It was quite a brave article to write, as it went against the Conservative Party’s “Vote Blue Go Green” slogan of the time. The UK left-liberal media likes to quote politically incorrect material from Daily Telegraph articles that Boris has written, such as his comments about burqa wearers looking like letterboxes and bank robbers, the piccaninnies with watermelon smiles, and describing gay men as tank-topped bum boys, but they avoid mentioning the global warming sceptic article he wrote in 2006, possibly in the hope that a person in a powerful position has removed such heretical thoughts from his head.

    A more recent example would be this Guardian article in 2019 about David King’s concerns about Boris’s attitude to climate change:


    The article was probably timed to try to influence who got into the final two of the Conservative party leadership contest in 2019. David King, the former UK chief scientific adviser to the Blair and Brown governments, noted that he couldn’t get Boris to make any speeches about climate change when he was foreign secretary, and Boris did nothing to stop a policy of heavily cutting back on the number of climate change-related diplomats.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Dave,

    I think the one thing we can all agree on is that nothing Johnson says can be taken as gospel. Deeds only will define his premiership and we’ve yet to see any. So far, it’s all just words. Nobody really knows what goes on in Boris’ mind, or what his real intentions are, probably not even Carrie, though she may have significant input in his Green policies. Dilyn the rescue dog might know, but he’s not telling! If Dominic Cummings knows it’s because Dominic had the idea first – and he’s not telling either.


  38. Dennis, dug your comment out of moderation. Talking of Zac Goldsmith, even though he lost his seat in the election, the Tories are giving him a peerage so he can continue in his role as environment minister. Him being an ardent Greenie, I think that speaks volumes about the direction this government intends to go.


  39. Richard,

    No, that wasn’t a political earthquake, it was just the swamp being stirred up a bit and re-organising itself. Nothing much has changed.


  40. Jaime, given that it’s pantomime season “Oh Yes It Was” a political earthquake.

    Which must mean we have different definitions. I think the bumper majority, reminiscent of the late Thatcher years, is a really useful thing, giving the possibility of real strength in the rest of the negotiations with the EU, just for a start. (Thatcher was overthrown just three years later though. Be sure that I am very aware of that.)

    Put another way, I don’t think you know it’s “just the swamp being stirred up a bit and re-organising itself. Nothing much has changed.” I dislike negative prophecies where the prophet doesn’t really have the knowledge they appear to. Maybe climate alarmism made me feel that way.

    Zac? I think there are other ways to read it. His Dad was a pioneer of what became the Leave movement and he has stood by this unfashionable point of view through the years. I like the guy for other reasons too. We need to give up the Manichean frame for everything. To be effective I mean.


  41. Richard, of course I know that it’s just the swamp being re-organised, because most of the swamp creatures are still in Parliament, the previous political establishment is still firmly in control, the old guard kept their seats and the principal reasons for Boris getting a Thatcher style majority is that 317 Brexit Party candidates were stood down in Tory held seats and the electorate was desperate to avoid a Corbyn government, also dead weary of three and a half years of dither and delay under the Maybot. Not really a ringing endorsement of the Tories themselves or indicative of a major sea change in the political landscape. Comparisons with Thatcher’s 1987 landslide are also not very helpful. That was her third electoral landslide in a row. The electorate knew what they wanted and voted for it, in their droves. This is the Tories’ first election landslide for decades. The electorate knew what they didn’t want and voted against it in their droves. It was overwhelmingly a rejection of Marxism, the politics of fear and hatred, of terrorism, of mind-numbing stupidity and incompetence. The Tories milked Corbyn’s Labour nightmare for all it was worth and even then they STILL had to bribe and harass BXP candidates to stand down, even after 317 already had. Maggie, up against an infinitely more respectable Labour opposition under Kinnock, needed to do none of these things, yet she romped home with a stunning victory. Boris is just continuity May with added charm as far as I’m concerned. If and when he does something really special, I might start to believe that the political landscape has shifted considerably.


  42. Jaime, in my last comment I pointed out that we must be using different definitions of the term ‘political earthquake’. Now, startlingly, we seem to be using different definitions of the word ‘know’.

    This morning I know that the Tory majority in parliament under Boris is 80 seats. On Thursday morning I didn’t know that. Here’s another, rather more subtle example of the same kind of thing:

    Does the FT journalist really know, even now, what he says are the causes of the Johnson victory and the type of Brexit that will flow from it? Did he know these things 12 months ago, enough to put them down in writing? I doubt both but I doubt the second far more. Score one to PJ.

    Going back to the simpler matter of the Tory majority, here’s the historian Robert Tombs being more precise, and humble, in the Telegraph on Saturday:

    The surprising thing about this election result is that so many of us were surprised. The logic for a Tory landslide was clear. Yet we couldn’t – I include myself– quite believe it.

    Three years of battering by a large part of the media, especially the broadcast media; plus Labour’s tempting giveaways; then the unrelenting personal attacks on Boris Johnson: surely all this would cause a narrowing of the Tory lead, a knife-edge result, even another hung parliament.

    Well, I never believed most people were that crazy, but I did start to worry. I didn’t quite trust the good sense of the voters. Mea culpa! I underestimated the magnificent stubbornness of people who had made up their own minds and were not going to be bullied or bought.

    There are so many reasons for this result. Brexit first, of course; Jeremy Corbyn; Boris Johnson’s boldness – we can all run through the familiar list. One of the classic problems in history is trying to sort the causes out, and place them in some sort of order of importance. It is a fascinating problem, not least because it is insoluble, like trying to explain the result of a football match.

    I like that admission that he didn’t know, even when he now thinks that he should have done. I was the same.

    Jaime Jessop says today: “If and when [Boris] does something really special, I might start to believe that the political landscape has shifted considerably.” Which means, in my definition, that you don’t know now what will be true then. Nor do I. And, as in climate, false certainty about the future does damage. There’s everything to play for. (And let’s hope Boris listens to his Nigel Lawson on the idea of the poll tax, if you get my drift.)

    (Also, Thatcher didn’t win three electoral landslides. Not by my definition. For her majority in 1979 was 43. So I don’t agree we know that, either, and that seems to matter as we look at the history. But it’s a lesser concern right now.)


  43. Richard, it’s not as complex as you are suggesting. The only reason I KNOW that it “wasn’t a political earthquake, it was just the swamp being stirred up a bit and re-organising itself” and that “nothing much has changed” is because, barring the fact that the distribution of MPs in Parliament among the three main parties has been altered somewhat, no new blood in the form of independents or Brexit Party MPs has made it into Parliament. The old guard remains, The political establishment is intact. A majority of MPs did NOT lose their seats, especially Tories, even after the farce of the last three and a half years. The party-hopping Remainers lost their seats, but that was about it. By and large, Labour were replaced by Tory and the Lib Dems were squeezed. Cox’s “dead Parliament” is still very much alive and Christmas did not come early for the turkeys after all. Among the Opposition, Lammy in Tottenham was returned with a huge majority, as was Abbott in Hackney. That says it all.

    Granted, we may have differing definitions of what constitutes a political earthquake, but the plain fact is that the swamp has not been drained, merely reorganised. I can’t foretell the future and I don’t know for sure what Johnson will do, but he has promised to ‘get Brexit done’ by Jan 31st and, with a large majority now, this will almost certainly mean passing ‘the deal’ he ‘negotiated’ before Oct 31st, unamended, which he could not get through Parliament previously. I know that this will not get Brexit done in any meaningful sense of the phrase. Why? Because it is a fact that the UK will be forced to become an EU colony for at least one year prior to the agreement of a future trading and political relationship. I know that Barnier has stated that this deadline is unrealistic and it will probably take longer to agree a future relationship, meaning vassal status will be extended for another one or two years, possibly longer. I know that the terms of the treaty seriously undermine the UK’s negotiating position, so getting a FTA of the kind that Johnson says he wants is going to be very difficult, almost impossible by end of June 2020, which is the deadline for extending the transition. Now, you may say ‘but Johnson can play hardball and threaten to leave without a FTA so UK’s negotiating position is strong’.

    This is what Brexit party infiltrator and Tory turncoat Annunziata Rees Mogg says on Twitter:

    But this belies the very notion of signing up to the ‘deal’ in the first place. It seriously weakens Britain’s negotiating position. Why would a government freely sign up to the kind of treaty which defeated nations are forced to sign, then bluff that it can force the other party to accept its terms? Unless that government was happy to accept the type of agreement which it knows the opposing team will try to impose, which the terms of the treaty give them a great advantage in trying to impose? No government would. It would divorce itself from any commitments and negotiate from a true position of strength, ie. as an independent, sovereign, self-governing nation adhering to WTO rules. It would Leave the EU on January 31st without signing a new EU treaty. Johnson has ruled out doing this, even though he now has the majority to do so. Why?

    These facts inform my opinion that Johnson wishes to merely renew the status quo re. Europe, which does not bode well for the assumption that real change in any area will happen any time soon because of an ‘historic’ and groundbreaking Conservative election victory. But we’ll see. We have not yet inherited the future. Only climate alarmists are capable of doing that!


  44. Ben’s not convinced by Boris and his Tories either:


  45. Talking of Zac Goldsmith, even though he lost his seat in the election, the Tories are giving him a peerage so he can continue in his role as environment minister. Him being an ardent Greenie, I think that speaks volumes about the direction this government intends to go.

    It does say this, to me: the Tories will continue to talk up a commitment to zero carbon, but they won’t actually do anything much. Perhaps a tax somewhere, but only so tax somewhere else can be lifted. Goldsmith can bloviate from the House of Lords all he likes, but he’s probably less dangerous there than from outside the Conservative ranks.

    It’s a winning strategy to talk about an emergency and then treat it will disdain in practice, and is adopted by pretty much every successful politician. Obama talked a great talk about climate — and did sweet FA. It’s what all the politicians in NZ have done, except poor Jacinda was forced to give a little bit of ground because she’s in alliance with the Greens, pretty much unanimously.

    As soon as you actually DO something, you get into political trouble. Money talks and the Australian Labor Party found out what happens if voters suspect you mean to actually get serious.


  46. Boris apparently intends to amend the Brexit bill on Friday so that Dec 2020 is the end of transition and cannot be extended. UK leaves ‘deal or no deal’. Sounds familiar. We’ll see how that works out. EU27 will have to agree to amendment. Can’t see Brussels being happy about it. If they are, there might be something fishy.

    But it’s something at least.



  47. Jaime: Am I right in inferring that for most of yesterday you didn’t know that the government was going to do this? How much else don’t you know about what they will or won’t do through December 2024? Exact answer, please. (I also don’t think that what I was saying earlier was at all complex. But the inability to listen, with empathy, to another point of view can no doubt make it seem so.)

    Chester: Thanks. The stonking majority lends itself to hypocrisy of this kind, making it easier to get away with. I agree too about Zac being less of a problem in the Lords. However, hypocrisy alone isn’t a particularly good solution, overall, to the big net zero push, from the CCC, inside the government, in its cosy quangocrat crony-capitalist way, and elsewhere. I am hopeful that Dominic Cummings’ ideas on more rational decision-making within Whitehall may in the coming five years make some impact. But, to be clear, I don’t know that they will.


  48. Back to my comment this time yesterday there are three areas that seem to me worth developing. First, Lord Ashworth agrees, in effect, with Wolfgang Munchau of the FT:

    I think we can be cautiously optimistic that this penny (or pfennig) may now finally have dropped with the leaders of the EU countries, leading to more pragmatism and positivity from the Commission in Stage 2, the free trade negotiations.

    I also wrote: “Thatcher didn’t win three electoral landslides. Not by my definition. For her majority in 1979 was 43.” What’s more, many Tory MPs were dead against Mrs Thatcher’s core aims in 1979. The ‘wets’, as they were soon called, included many in her own cabinet. Whereas in December 2019 Mr Cummings has made sure that almost all Tory dissidents have been purged, even from the backbenches. And then Team Boris goes and wins a stonking 80 seat majority. That part we didn’t know on Thursday and the combination has to be of first-rate significance. And it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of thorny issues to use this almost unprecedented political strength to contend with, given courage.

    One of which could just turn out to be energy policy, finally cut free from the brain-dead and self-defeating ‘climate consensus’. I don’t know how that may happen but I much prefer not to lose all hope even before the new government has really got going, some low-cost rhetoric aside.

    On the subject of positivity, this twitter interaction with Cummings on Friday also struck me:

    Even this guy, with all the 4D chess in play, needed people to believe. Our situation as climate realists is not the same as it was for Rebecca Bland but this is not for me the moment to lose heart.


  49. Richard, I did not know that Boris was going to say that he will enshrine exit date in law. It seemed promising – for 5 minutes. I DO know that the Tories are slippery bastards though, hence the announcement by Gove that fixing the exit date will NOT mean a possible ‘no deal’ exit to WTO on that date comes as no surprise whatsoever. Now the MSM is full of news that Boris has put ‘no deal’ back on the table, which is utter bullshit, because they do not intend to walk away, and the EU knows this. How many times now have the Cons pulled this trick? I’ve lost count. It’s just blatant propaganda to get the country on board signing that God awful treaty.

    P.S. My lack of empathy or otherwise to the viewpoints of others is not the issue here. Facts are the issue. Record of past behaviour is the issue. The Tories comprehensively fail to engender any real degree of trust from the public (myself in included) when both are critically examined. Hence I and others can form an assessment of the future based upon the past – and it’s not looking good.


  50. Jaime: It’s not facts, it’s opinion. My opinion is that the WA is good enough on an escape velocity basis, as briefly explained in the head post. Your opinion is that it would have been better to Remain in the EU than accept the Theresa May WA route. No, actually, you never did answer that defining question in January.

    Where Jaime agrees with Danny Finkelstein is less clear, because she didn’t answer my question about whether it would be better to remain than sign up for May’s WA.

    I never thought your refusal to do so was as brave as your image as the teller of hard truths in so many areas may have suggested.

    Thank you though for raising Michael Gove. Your contempt for him may not be shared by a statistician called Graeme Archer:

    I cried twice on Thursday night/Friday morning. Once when Mike Freer held his seat in Finchley and Golders Green, despite one of those algorithmic Leftist pacts to unseat him (wrong target, Luciana Berger; I love you, but that was a tonal mis-step: Mike Freer was never your enemy), and once again when Michael Gove, introducing the Prime Minister on Friday morning, looked Britain’s remaining Labour voters in the eye, and told them “Never again must our Jewish citizens live in fear.” Never again.

    That issue of Antisemitism averted is a great deal more important for me than Brexit and even than Climate. (The ABC is indeed suggestive.) That is also, of course, an opinion, though I’d prefer to call it a sober judgment, based on history. Gove was right therefore to highlight this point in introducing the PM. And the rest of Archer’s article speaks eloquently of what I still think can fairly be called a political earthquake.


  51. For what it’s worth, I see the election falls short of the ideal. But pretty much all elections fall short. I think it was said by a very wise man that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.
    In the US basically no one thought of then candidate Trump as their choice for President.
    Most backed him because the alternative was the equivalent of Lady Macbeth. It turns out that except for his raw and vulgar communication style he has governed quite moderately and intelligently.
    The response to him by the administrative state and the party the administrators support has been eye opening, to say the least.
    My point is that your PM is a man with his own foibles and limitations, operating with constraints imposed on him and constraints self imposed as well.
    Considering the alternative, I would say the recent election was pretty good for Britain. Now those who want more, say desperately needed reform of the climate crisis industry, will have to work hard to get it.


  52. No Richard, not mere opinion, it is a matter of fact that Treason May and her election manifesto said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ then, when she had the opportunity to leave without a deal, having negotiated the worst deal in history, which was rejected by Parliament three times, she did not – she begged the EU for an extension to A50. It is a matter of fact that Boris Johnson said May’s deal was surrender, vassalage, bad for Britain, that it was equivalent to UK becoming a colony of the EU until 2020 at least – then he voted for it. It is a fact that he said the Maybot/Merkel WA was ‘dead’, then he resurrected it virtually intact with just a few tweaks. It is a fact that the EU has stated Boris’ deal is the same as Doris’ deal (it isn’t quite, but they think it is, and they are the ones who will adjudicate over any disputes). It is a fact that no major economy has EVER signed up to a treaty which is so one-sided that it allows one of the treaty parties (the EU) to adjudicate over disputes arising over the terms of the treaty. It is a fact that Boris bluffed we Leave, ‘deal or no deal’ by October 31st, that he would rather be dead in a ditch than beg the EU for an extension. Fact: we didn’t Leave, the government requested an extension, then Boris took no deal off the table in the Conservative manifesto and has confirmed it’s off the table after winning a majority. Fact: Boris did not go bog snorkeling without a snorkel. All these FACTS inform my OPINION that the Tories are serial liars and have no real intention of making a clean break from the EU, hence I don’t believe a goddamned word of any promise made by Boris or his rotten party that we will be out with a good deal by Dec 2020 or leave on WTO terms.


  53. I did answer your question Richard, but obviously not as directly as you would have liked, nor as clearly as I could have. I certainly did not refuse to answer it. I said:

    “Any version of May’s WA will not respect the result of the EU referendum, therefore it is beyond doubt that a majority did not vote for any ‘deal’ which may eventually make it through the Commons. It is also beyond doubt that a majority did not vote to Remain in the EU and the electorate as a whole voted in the knowledge that they were having the final say on whether we Leave or Remain. The only option left is to Leave on WTO terms, which fully respects the result of the EU referendum, i.e. ‘No Deal’ (implemented) is the ONLY option left on the table at this late stage which preserves democracy in the UK.

    The alternative, where we are kept in the EU or under the control of the EU against the wishes of the majority of the electorate, will, I think, turn out to be a grave miscalculation that will have very far reaching consequences, way beyond any short term pain from the jolt of Leaving on WTO terms.”

    What I meant by this was, the answer to your question was that both options were equally bad in terms of the betrayal of the Leave vote and the destruction of democracy in the UK. Technically, theoretically speaking my OPINION is that, had we not voted to Leave, Remaining as a member MIGHT have been slightly preferable to the Boris/Doris half-in/half-out/vassalage, but it’s only a vague opinion because I cannot compare the consequences for the UK of either option.


  54. Here we go again. EU “panicking” over “no deal”. The umpteenth round of UK saying one thing, EU denying it. We’ve seen what happens: we get to one minute before midnight and then the game suddenly changes. Tell me how this is ‘getting Brexit done’?

    “5.06pm update: No deal “almost guaranteed”, warns EU official

    One EU diplomat said has said Boris Johnson’s proposed deadline of the end of 2020 would leave both sides worse off.

    Referring to World Trade Organization rules that kick into force in the absence of a full-fledged trade deal, the diplomat said: “Haste will come at the expense of services and security.

    “This means we are pretty much guaranteed a WTO-style exit.”

    Mr Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed in a phone call on Tuesday to work with “great energy” to get a deal done by the deadline, the prime minister’s spokesman said.”


    It’s almost inconceivable that a comprehensive FTA which allows the UK to diverge significantly from EU rules will be agreed in less than twelve months of negotiations. It is thus, on the face of it, extremely likely that UK will exit without a FTA and go to WTO. But the government isn’t preparing for that and does not expect that to happen. Why in God’s name would Boris sign up to a binding international treaty, only to almost certainly Leave in 12 months time to go to WTO, when he can go straight to WTO at the end of January without handing over fisheries, £65 billion of taxpayers’ money, risking the imposition of damaging new EU laws during transition etc.? He would not. That doesn’t make sense at all. This means almost certainly that the EU will get its way in the FTA or transition will be extended.


  55. My head agrees with Jaime. My heart hopes Richard’s right. For me it’s too early to be arriving at conclusions, and the jury remains out.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Thanks for some fun comments. Meantime I have had an ‘incident’ in my car – in fact, the most frightening moment on the roads of my life, though nobody is physically hurt – and I need to deal with that this morning, lest Christmas plans are affected. So let me simply single this out from Hunterson:

    Now those who want more, say desperately needed reform of the climate crisis industry, will have to work hard to get it.

    His whole comment is, for me, very well said. But the hard work has to be of a certain kind, the kind that gets results. Otherwise, it’s the normal sceptic head meets consensus brick wall for another 30 years. That’s pointless hard work. Dominic Cummings has inspired very hard work in the teams he has led and has also got spectacular results. (Pace Jaime’s view.) But not in the climate area. Not yet.

    So where else should we look for clues? Paul pointed us to Paul Homewood’s excellent summary of climate commitments in the Tory manifesto. That for me is a must-read. The other key media is James Delingpole’s fabulous interview with Will Happer in Madrid six days ago:

    Happer has arguably got closer than anyone else to making a real difference on fomenting some sanity on climate/energy in government, with and under Mr Trump. The story he has to tell is both fascinating and, for each of us, timely.


  57. Glad you’re OK Richard. It’s hell on the roads this time of year. We try to avoid traveling as much as possible. We’ve got two main trunk roads nearby and there’s a serious incident about once a week at the moment. Very scary.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Beginning and end of year. Discuss.


  59. Conservatives now whinging that, had it not been for Farage and the Brexit Party, they would have won even more seats, beating even Maggie’s record landslide. Nothing like being magnanimous in victory. Nothing like giving credit where credit is due. Nothing like showing a bit of humility and appreciation. Nothing like that at all in fact.


  60. Jaime, politics is the art of the possible. A week or two before the election date I sent a polite and respectful email to our Brexit Party candidate, inviting him to step down, because (as Workington Man!) I live in what was a marginal constituency, held by Labour, but with the Tories in close second place. The appearance of a Brexit Party candidate on the ballot ran the real risk of splitting the Brexit vote and letting Labour back in to a seat they deserved to lose (very poor Labour MP IMO, who also did her best to stymie Brexit contrary to the wishes of the majority of her constituents).

    I received an equally polite and respectful email back (credit to him for that) saying that his polling told him the Brexit Party was doing very well indeed, the official polling results were just the establishment stamping on a party they didn’t like, and why should he stand down? Either he was dishonest or deluded, given that he polled very badly in the poll that matters, and the Tory candidate was duly elected (so, in the event, my fears of a split Brexit vote in this constituency were groundless).

    It points to a Brexit Party arrogance, however. They would rather let an anti-Brexit party win seats than behave in a pragmatic way over the issue. Not very bright. Yes, the Tories are already starting to make arrogant noises – it’s what they do. In fact, as we’re discussing politicians, why should we be surprised by any of it?


  61. Mark, politics is an art, it is not a science and neither is voting a science. Voters should vote for the candidate they support. Tactical voting apps are not a welcome development in my opinion. It is probable that, if the Brexit Party had not existed, more people would have voted Con. The Tories seem to be of the opinion that Farage should not have contested the election at all because ‘their’ Brexit was Brexit, but it was not Farage’s idea of Brexit, who wanted a clean break with the EU, not another treaty. Farage offered the Tories an alliance going into the election which would have assured them of a large majority if they would just ditch the very bad deal which Boris agreed with the EU when his option to leave without a deal was closed off by Parliament. Boris point blank refused.

    In a democracy, any registered party is entitled to put up candidates. Farage did, then stood half of them down to give the Tories a better chance of winning seats they already had. But it wasn’t enough for the Tories. Not only did they not reciprocate, they insisted that they had the divine right to stand unopposed by any other Brexiteer candidate, but they don’t have that right. We live in a democracy. not an autocracy. Even in the case where BXP Brexit manifesto was identical to Con (it wasn’t) they would still have had that right. BXP stood on the platform of a clean break Brexit, where candidates stated they would oppose Boris’ deal as MPs. The public deserved the right to be given the choice to vote for the candidate they wanted, not to be coerced into voting tactically to avoid Corbyn and ensure a ‘Brexit’ which did not then and does not now look remotely like a proper Brexit.

    So yes, Brexit Party candidates may arrogantly have defied calls to stand aside, but I think the arrogance of the Conservatives is rather more deep-seated and widespread and indeed troubling than BXP’s.


  62. Jaime

    It should be apparent by now that I am not, and never have been, a Tory. I have held that party in contempt for a long time. Like many (millions?) of others, I held my nose and voted Tory for the first time in my life, at the general election just gone, for the purpose of achieving some sort of Brexit, however poor, and doing my bit to ensure that we weren’t saddled with a Corbyn government, as well as seeking to ditch a poor (in my view) Labour MP. I dearly hope that I never feel the need to vote Tory again.

    Of course the Brexit Party had the democratic right to put forward candidates wherever they liked. The bigger question is as to the wisdom of doing so, where doing so might greatly increase the prospects of an anti-Brexit MP being elected.

    Our political system is are from perfect. I expect our political leaders to play the system astutely. In the election just gone, Johnson had a lot of cards, and played then well with typical Tory arrogance. Farage, by contrast, was left looking like a bumbling amateur.


  63. I’m not convinced by Farage either Mark. He did indeed look like a bumbling amateur. I’ve never been totally sure about his motives. He seems far more comfortable with European politics than he does battling it out in the UK political arena. He knows Brussels inside out but he seems incredibly naive when it comes to figuring out British politics. He destroyed his former party UKIP by resigning far too soon after the referendum, giving May a clean shot at delaying and betraying Brexit. Then, with the Brexit Party, just like the Grand Old Duke of York, he marched his men to the top of the hill, then promptly marched half of them back down again, effectively ensuring that those left at the top would be cut to pieces in the cross-fire.


  64. Four out of ten (3.8) Scots voted for Brexit in 2016.

    How would they vote today?


  65. Clipe: I took the liberty of condensing your four comments to two, hopefully removing typos/missteps. The Stretch Goal idea is well worth bringing to the UK party. Much magical thinking self-ids this way!

    And that’s a deliberate segue to the news that JK Rowling has explicitly come off the fence on the trans issue. That doesn’t mean she supports Jaime or myself on Brexit, or any of us on energy policy. Oh, the complexity.

    That just shows the strange alliances that arise as one gets into the detail. Graham Linehan also doesn’t agree with us on climate – well, he hasn’t in the past – but it was delightful to see his YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!! on Rowling’s tweet.

    There’s no question that I like winning more than losing. And although this is still just one small step in a massive battle it is a step forward. Here’s hoping for some of those in the climate arena in the next five years.


  66. The similarities with the trans issue and the climate debate only go so far. There is a danger here that nuance and context are starting to be ejected in favour of lumping the two together, which I think will hinder real progress on either issue.


  67. @ Richard

    It will be interesting to see whether her opinion blowing up in her face will suggest to JK that remaining silent is after all the best option. I don’t know the details of the case – if it is true that a statement of fact is capable of getting you fired, we are heading towards interesting times. If the question was whether biological sex is immutable, then the statement was of course true, with minor exceptions that don’t seem to be relevant to the trans issue.

    This is a thorny problem, but its existence also seems to prove that life is good. If we have time to worry about who gets to bathe in which pond on Hampstead Heath, we’re probably not getting bombed.

    The same applies to the climate. If we can afford to worry about CO2 emissions – then the sum of the rest of our troubles is small.


  68. Jaime and Jit: Both very good points. I think we’ve begun to tease apart the similarities and differences on Cliscep. There is a tremendous attack on science in transgenderism which is, I would say, of a different order from, say, the mere pseudoscience of the 1998 ‘hockey stick’ of Mike Mann:

    Emma has I think been unsuccessful so far in her attempts to engage Roger Pielke Jr on the outrage of trans women in women’s sports. (I was the one who suggested she should try but hey, what do I know.)

    Here’s another fun crossover, again not with climate per se, but with someone who’s been mentioned in this thread. Kathleen is the foremost feminist philosopher who’s been writing beautifully in gentle critique of trans ideology. In response they haven’t managed to get her sacked yet but not for lack of trying.



  69. Both the climate consensus and transgenderism are anti-scientific and anti-human. Both reject reality to fabricate narratives that ignore history, data and rational dialog. Both are anti-democratic, and require coercion to sustain the demands of those pushing the narrative. Both restrict human thought and freedom. Neither is sustainable without what is in effect the same sort of police state that made Lysenkoism the law of the USSR.


  70. Richard. Thanks for cleaning up after me, but…

    Four out of ten (3.8) Scots voted for Brexit in 2016

    [RD: Hopefully right now!]


  71. As I asked, “Boris has a huge mandate to Get Brexit Done. What’s the problem?”

    No problem is too big that it can’t be neutered by new legislation. Climate related laws come to mind.

    Stretch Goals.


  72. Ooh, everyone’s getting excited, even Brexit party members, because Boris is promising no regulatory alignment:

    Actions do speak louder than words Rupert. Boris is preparing to sign a legally binding international treaty which, if it does not compel the UK to do the exact opposite, certainly makes it very difficult to avoid being drawn into such a close relationship. So, I ask again, Why would a sane government sign up to a legally binding international treaty whose terms and political aspirations re. a future relationship are in direct contrast to what that government is seeking? Is Boris mad or is he lying? Again, silence from Conservative supporting ‘GetBrexitDoners’ is the very loud reply.


  73. It gets more bizarre. A day after Boris insists that he will negotiate a FTA in less than 12 months with no regulatory alignment, Barnier insists that no FTA will be on the table unless UK accepts EU rules and standards:

    “We will keep our strategic interests in mind. We know that competing on social and environmental standards – rather than on skills, innovation, and quality – leads only to a race to the bottom that puts workers, consumers, and the planet on the losing side,” Mr Barnier said.

    “Thus, any free-trade agreement must provide for a level playing field on standards, state aid, and tax matters,” he added in a sign of enduring EU anxiety that the UK will undercut the bloc’s rules to gain a competitive advantage after Brexit.

    Barnier even obligingly reminds us that Boris’ WA takes ‘hard Brexit’ off the table:

    “And besides, things could have been much worse. Owing to the withdrawal agreement that was concluded this past October, a destructive “hard” Brexit has been averted,” he said.

    So who to believe? Barnier has proved he is a tough negotiator who will not budge, especially when the cards are stacked in the EU’s favour (they will be). If Boris is simply going to walk away in a year’s time and go to WTO, he might as well do that on Jan 31st, without signing up to this awful treaty. Ratifying it now makes no sense at all if we are to take both leaders at their word.


  74. Jaime, I’m with you regarding the awful nature of Boris’ WA, and also as regards the negotiating position of the EU. I have said (in the not too distant past) that I would prefer to stay in the EU, rather than leave on the basis of Johnson’s (or May’s) BRINO deals.

    I have, most reluctantly, reconsidered. BREXIT -v- EU membership is a festering boil, about which the country is deeply, and almost evenly, divided. We need to move on. Boris’ “deal” is very poor indeed, and I would prefer to leave with no deal, as it is my belief that we would better off with no deal than with such an awful deal. However, his deal does enable us to leave, and eventually see our sovereignty restored. And it might, just might, enable remainers to be reconciled to BREXIT in a way that I do not think is possible if we leave without a deal.

    If he signs a stupid trade deal, ignoring the fact that we now hold the cards (a BREXIT majority in the House of Commons, and a massive trade deficit with the EU, such that the EU has most to lose if there is no trade deal), then I will immediately revert to my former position.

    For now, however, and with the heaviest of heavy hearts, for the good of restoring relations between the citizens of our benighted country, I fear his deal is the best we can expect. I’m not happy about it, but at the risk of repeating myself, I recognise that politics is the art of the possible.


  75. That’s a very philosophical position to take Mark, and an admirable one, no doubt. Alas, I’m just not that philosophical. I also do not see the need to reconcile Remain voters. It was a binary democratic vote. They lost. Might as well say we should reconcile losing Labour voters by having just a few Marxist government policies and maybe Priti Patel could work on her Diane Abbott impression.


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