Hold on to your hats!

The terms proposed by the EU for a transitional deal, even if this had only lasted for 21 months, are totally unacceptable, as we have pointed out. Our fishing industry would be decimated. However, it seems that the government is now talking about this arrangement lasting more than 21 months.

Opposition  to any transitional agreement on these terms in growing. Mrs May recently received a letter signed by 62 Tory MPs reminding her of the “red lines” in her own Lancaster House speech. These include:-

  • Take full control of UK tariff schedules at the WTO with the power to change them without sign-off from the EU27
  • Enjoy “full regulatory autonomy” with the ability to change British laws and rules unilaterally
  • Be free to start trade negotiations immediately after leaving the EU, which may involve ensuring the UK has the power to discuss the division of the EU’s Tariff Rate Quotas with non-EU trading partners bilaterally
  • Have the freedom to negotiate and sign other trade agreements during the implementation period in line with WTO principles

There has been a much greater level of disquiet about the EU’s terms among backbenchers, as these four points (and other vital issues, such as the end of any role for the ECJ) would not be permitted, but some other MPs were bought off by the assurance that it wold only be for 21 months and then all would be well. The Cabinet meeting at Chequers today could be rather turbulent.

Now this is looking less likely, we could be entering a period of far greater political turmoil. It is hard ot predict what will happen next. Although the majority of Tory MPs supported remain, real headbangers like Anna Soubry are a small minority and most Tories know that they will face electoral oblivion if the government botches Brexit. The stakes are clearly getting higher. However, it may require some senior heads to roll if the transitional blind alley is to be averted. It is a case of holding on to your hats.

Perhaps rather ironically, the combination of the narrow margin of victory in last June’s general election and the remainer-inspired initiative to give Parliament a vote on the final deal may work in our favour. Mrs May dare not force through the transitional deal relying on Labour votes, but she looks unlikely to get it through otherwise. Hopefully, a discreet change of tack will take place to avoid what would be an unmitigated disaster for the PM.

Meanwhile, Anti-Brexit campaigners are planning a six-week blitz in the Midlands and North of England, according  to the Financial Times.  Predictably, George Soros who was neither born in this country nor lives here, is involved.  If anyone comes across such groups canvassing,   we would ask them to be polite, even though it is very tempting to behave otherwise! Thankfully, although remainiacs have been trying to subvert democracy for over 18 months now, there is little evidence of any significant shift in public opinion. As one London street newspaper vendor said recently, most people are sick of Brexit.

In these troubled times, it is encouraging that a group of pro-Brexit academics have come together. We would commend their website Briefings for Brexit to your attention and you may, in particular, enjoy reading this piece by Professor Robert Tombs of Cambridge, which points out how ill-advised the remainers are and that far from being a position of stability, EU membership exposes us to considerable uncertainty. Perhaps one should add that the uncertainty may have increased still further next week with next Sunday’s Italian General Election unlikely to usher in a government with much sympathy for the federalist vision of France’s Emmanuel Macron

Going back to the academics, these people are brave individuals, who have had to take far more flak that most of use here. They will need thick skins, says Dominic Lawson. He mentions one academic who said,  ‘I can’t come out as pro-Brexit, it would make my life impossible here.’
How sad that in many of our once great universities, the very sensible and rational idea that we should once again be self-governing seems to engender such hostility.
But then this reminds us of one important reason why many of us voted to leave the EU. If successful, it could and hopefully will be the start of a massive and long overdue shake-up  of our society, including politics, the media and our entire educational system. The latter will be a particular challenge, but it is encouraging to know that there are a few sane voices out there.

Photo by ™ Pacheco

The Beginning of the End for Britain’s Fishing?

Fishermen’s Organisation Fishing for Leave highlight that the leaked (and soon after published) Government DRAFT TEXT FOR DISCUSSION: IMPLEMENTATION PERIOD detailing the Government position on the Transition deal show a deliberate effort to fashion Brexit in name only.

The group accuses the government of engineering terms that fly in the face of the biggest democratic instruction in British history.

The document says the government believes-

The UK believes this document demonstrates that there is broad alignment between the UK and EU positions, with only a small number of areas requiring discussion.

Has enraged most Brexiteers who see this as a brazen confession that the government sees “broad alignment in position” as an admission the government is prepared to capitulate what they see as the EUs stringent transition terms.

The Terms of the transition as that although the UK will have officially left the EU and no longer be a member the UK will re-agree to obey all EU law after we leave. Many back bench brexiteers with Jacob Rees-Mogg heading them say Britain would be reduced to being some sort of ‘vassal state’.

Fishing for Leave say the document is a sneaky admission of the disastrous situation the government are digging not only fishing but the country as a whole

NOTES
The official terms in Article X+4 – Specific arrangements relating to Fisheries Policy – say;

[Paragraph 1] As regards the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities … for any period prior to the end of the Period (i.e. the transition), the EU and the UK shall agree the fishing opportunities related to the UK prior to the decision-making process within the Council. The United Kingdom shall participate alongside the EU and other coastal States in international fisheries negotiations.

The changes to paragraph [1] are to clarify the need for agreement between the UK and the EU with regards fishing opportunities during the (transition) Period, in advance of the formal processes at the December Fisheries Council, in which the UK will no longer have voting rights. The changes also reflect the consequences of the UK’s status as a third country for participation in negotiations with other coastal states.

They say that the text above is an admission that the government has to engineer an arrangement to allow the UK as a non-EU member but an independent coastal state to surrender its fisheries resources and waters to the EU as part of a transition deal where we must obey the CFP of “equal access to a common resource”.

Many Brexit groups have highlighted because the UK is would not be a member of the EU it cannot be officially recognised by other non-EU nations as being party to deals they have with the EU.

Fishing for Leave cites that this would work in reverse on fisheries As the UK will no longer officially be an EU member the EU cannot officially act or speak on behalf of the UK in international agreements – such as international fisheries agreements

Alan Hastings FFLs spokesman said “Saying the UK and EU will participate at international negotiations is a way to ensure the UK signs off whatever the EU tells us. We then return home and have to surrender our resources to the common EU pot to be divided out under the same grotesquely unfair shares of the CFP to obey the transition arrangements between us and the EU”

“To give some sort of context as a rough legal comparison think of a husband (the EU) and wife (the UK)”.

“Although they are married (i.e. the transition deal) it is a matter of fact the wife (the UK) is a person/country in her/our own right (a coastal state). The husband (the EU) cannot sign for the wife (the UKs) inheritance (fisheries resources agreed international)”.

“However, as they are married (transition deal) once the inheritance (fisheries resources agreed internationally) are concluded the inheritance (our fish) belongs and is divided between their common household where the EU under the terms of the CFP only gives us half of what should otherwise be solely ours”.

FFL say this is why the government has made this provision and shrouded it in opaque wording.

NOTE
This is why DEFRAs official statement to the press when questioned below goes all fuzzy at the end.

Our proposal makes clear that when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, we will become an independent coastal state. The Treaties will no longer apply, we will no longer be a Member State, and we will leave the Common Fisheries Policy. 

“Our proposal means that during the implementation period we will sit alongside other Coastal States as equal partners in international annual quota negotiations. 

“We are expecting more detailed discussions on the text with the EU. The details of how this apply will be discussed there.”

Alan Hastings said on DEFRAs statement; “Yes, unequivocally, as a legal matter of fact, when we are an independent coastal state this confers the right to sit at the table and exercise sovereignty over our resources as the statement admits”.

“What the statement then fails to highlight is the government has built a mechanism to facilitate selling us out where we can surrender our waters and resources to the EU as part of the terms of the transition deal where we must obey the CFP thereafter – that is what is key”.

“The disgracefulness of this is amplified because they know and recognise that we will be an independent country but have deliberately contrived and decided to throw all that away to be trapped in the CFP. To sell our resources and fishermen out to the EU again but with just a different legal underpinning”.

“It is nothing short of evil, calculated maliciousness hid behind deliberately opaque wording and a PR exercise – those within the establishment who ore engineering something so heinous need to be called out”.

All fishermen’s representative bodies are aghast at the transition saying it could be used to finish of the UK fleet.  They question why fishing needs to be in a transition at all when the government recognises that we can walk away and be an independent coastal state with full control over all our waters and resources.

They are angry that the government failed to back Michael Gove’s and George Eustice’s calls to not include fishing in a transition and to leave the disastrous CFP entirely on 29th March 2019.

Alan Hastings concluded “We fear that the powers that be have laid the ground work to sacrifice Britain’s fishermen and coastal communities to continued demise trapped in the CFP where we will be another British industry consigned to museum and memory”.

Security – partnership but not participation

Mrs May’s speech on security cooperation last Saturday was given in Munich, famous for the meeting between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler in 1938 where an agreement was signed which Mr Chamberlain, on his return to the UK, would lead to “peace in our time”.

His hopes were sadly shaken a year later. Mrs May did not come away with any agreement, She was not expecting to. Instead, she went to Munich to deliver a speech which, like that by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, earlier in the week, was good on mood music and aspiration but not at all satisfactory when it comes to detail.

Michel Barnier had stated that upon Brexit, we will no longer be part of Europol or the European Defence Agency. He did not mention the European Arrest Warrant, but it is not unreasonable to assume that we would be excluded from this too. At this point, virtually everyone who voted for Brexit should have been giving three loud cheers. Mrs May, in her speech, however, seemed to be saying what a disaster this would be. “Let’s be clear about what would happen if the means of this cooperation were abolished. Extradition under the European Arrest Warrant would cease. Extradition outside the European Arrest Warrant can cost four times as much and take three times as long. It would mean an end to the significant exchange of data and engagement through Europol.”

Fine, for as far as the EAW is concerned, as we have pointed out many times on this website, its convenience is outweighed by its serious flaws – flaws which have caused great grief to a number of UK citizens,  For example, Edmond Arapi was subject to an Italian EAW in 2004, being convicted in absentia of a murder in Genoa, even though he had never visited Genoa in his life and was working in a café in Staffordshire on the day of the murder. Andrew Symeou, a UK citizen, was extradited to Greece, denied bail and incarcerated for 11 months on charges of “fatal bodily harm” thanks to the signature of a Greek magistrate that no UK judge could overturn despite the evidence against him being obtained under duress. Mr Symeou published an account of his ordeal in a book called Extradited. He pointed out that unless, like him, you suffer from a miscarriage of justice, you are unlikely to appreciate just how flawed the EAW is.

Then, although we may be ejected from Europol, we would still be members of Interpol. If the EU is keen to cooperate with us on matters relating to criminal justice, which it would be foolish not to do, there are other models available which would enable us to maintain our independence.

Mrs May was right to highlight the need for close security cooperation between the UK and the EU after Brexit but we should be seeking to distance ourselves from the EU’s confrontational stance towards Russia. As Peter Hitchens put is, “Russia is no more of a threat to the UK than the Klingons”

Unfortunately, Mrs May has not freed herself from the widespread misapprehension that today’s Russia is merely the former Soviet Union under another name. She referred to “Russia’s hostile actions.” The reality is that blame for the current hostility between Russia and the EU lies as much, if not more, with Brussels than with Moscow. True, NATO must shoulder some of the blame for rapidly extending its reach to the boundaries of Belorus and Russia, but until 2009, it appeared that Russia was not that worried and might even have been considering joining NATO itself. It was the EU’s meddling in Ukraine, working behind the scenes to oust the pro-Russian but democratically elected Viktor Yanukovich, which has been the principal factor behind the deterioration in relationships between Russia and the West in recent years. Free from any vested interest in seeing Ukraine join an organisation which we have just voted to leave, we have the opportunity to re-set our own relationship with Russia rather than having to toe the EU’s expansionist, provocative line. It is surely wrong to seek to maintain enmity with a nation with whom we share a common European culture when it is possible to be friends.

Mrs May proposed that an new UK-EU treaty should be signed covering cooperation in defence and security issues. Will the EU play ball? Without a separate deal, it will take up to three years after Brexit for Britain – as a “third country” – to receive EU approval for data to be freely exchanged, so says the Independent. It will not be us who will be the biggest losers if the EU sticks rigidly to its rules about “third countries”, but then, if it is prepared to make an exception for security issues, this then poses the question, why not for trade?

All in all, the impression given by Mrs May’s speech is that she fails to see that in these issues, she has the whip hand and can use it to ensure that we achieve a full and complete break with the EU, replacing  participation in its agencies with a partnership which can still keep Europe secure. We just hope that as the negotiations proceed, in this area as well as in other key Brexit issues, her MPs will continue to give her a few gentle prods to ensure we do indeed achieve a proper Brexit in these key areas.

Photo by EU2017EE

Mrs May – trying to face both ways

Like the Roman god Janus, Our Prime Minister, it seems, is trying to face both ways at once. On the one hand, she has been kicking out against the unacceptable terms which the EU  has set for any transitional agreement while on the other, she seems keen to capitulate on important areas such as criminal justice.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator recently stated that agreement on a Brexit transition was “not a given” and with good reason. Theresa May, having read the EU’s terms has fought back, insisting that we must have greater freedom than the EU wants to allow us after Brexit.  She apparently intends to oppose the EU’s terms for citizen’s rights and any thought of us being a passive recipient of EU law but with no say in its formulation. The terms are so harsh, as we have stated, that it would have been unacceptable for Mrs May to have rolled over. Already there is much backbench disquiet over the EU’s proposals. Hopefully all MPs will have read the document produced by the European Commission dated 7th February and in particular, the chilling words in the first paragraph of Page 5:- “For the purposes of the Treaties, during the transition period, the parliament of the United Kingdom shall not be considered to be a national parliament.

Of course, Mrs May presides over a split cabinet. Our friends in Fishing for Leave recently commented on the struggles which Michael Gove has faced merely for wanting the UK to take control of its fishing policy after Brexit. That such a battle even needed to be fought is a cause for concern.

Recalcitrant cabinet members cannot, however, take the blame for Mrs May’s proposed speech in Munich next Saturday where she will give a speech including a  declaration that the UK will continue to participate in the European Arrest Warrant as well as retaining its Europol membership.  Mind you, like much of Mrs May’s Brexit strategy, this may well amount to wishful thinking as it’s not up to us whether we remain participants in these two schemes. Last November, Michel Barnier said that we would be ejected from Europol as it was only open to EU member states. Our ejection was the “logical consequence of the sovereign choice made by the British.” Unlike our team. M. Barnier is not known for changing his stance on key issues, so Mrs May’s speech next Saturday may turn out to be  empty rhetoric.

Indeed, we hope it is so for otherwise, she will face yet more fully-deserved criticism from her MPs. Jacob Rees-Mogg, first off the mark as usual, has reiterated his long-standing opposition to any further UK involvement with this flawed scheme. Regular visitors to this website will be in no doubt about the Campaign for an Indepndent Britain’s opposition to any ongoing participation in the EAW, Europol or the EU Gendarmerie – and we will continue to campaign on this issue if we are not pre-empted by M. Barnier rendering our efforts unnecessary. We fail to understand why Mrs May, Amber Rudd or anyone else wants to keep us locked into our current unsatisfactory relationship with the deeply flawed inquisitorial criminal justice systems of most EU member states.

On a different note, readers will be familiar with our reporting of the pathetic behaviour of the remoaners. It  seems that a small minority of them have touched a new low. At least six major backers of the Leave campaign have received identical death threats. The wording is quite chilling:- “You have stoked the fires of Brexit and led us to this moment. You can no longer be tolerated. We are coming for you. We are going to kill you.” The group sending these letters calls itself “the Real 48 per cent” and has also targeted Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom.

We would be the first to point out that the vast majority of remain voters, including most of those who sincerely believe that we should remain in the EU, would not remotely condone this sort of intimidation. Indeed, this shadowy group’s title is misleading in the extreme. They only speak for a minute fraction of the 48% of voters who supported remain.  The reality is that most voters on both sides of the debate actually care very little about Brexit any more.  As one writer put it, most people just wish that, as an issue, it would just go away.

So indeed would we, but not until we have achieved full independence – and this includes freedom from the EAW and Europol, full control over who fishes in our Exclusive Economic Zone and a relationship with the EU which is far looser and completely free of the subservience of the proposed transitional agreement.

Michael Gove’s cabinet fishing battle

After the recent Brexit cabinet meetings it has been disclosed that Secretary of State Michael Gove had to “battle” to ensure cabinet agreement that Britain would control setting of fishing limits when Britain’s membership terminates on the 29th March 2019.

 Fishing for Leave welcomed Mr Gove’s attempts but said it is “shameful” that there had to be a “battle” with cabinet Remainers over fishing, given it is widely perceived as not only symbolic, but also an issue where the Conservatives have to exorcise the actions of Ted heath.

 Fishing for Leave’s Alan Hastings said; “We give a cautionary “Well Done” to Michael Gove! This now needs to be seen through if he and other parliamentarians want to be heroes instead of hounded!”

“We will irrefutably be independent state as of March 2019 with an automatic return of sovereignty over OUR waters & resources as we leave the CFP. Therefore, there is no need and fishing shouldn’t be given away again to be part of any type of ‘transition’ or ‘3rd party’ deal that see’s us bound into the CFP in anyway shape nor form”.

“Some arrangement where Britain is allowed to meekly speak from the back of a room in Brussels could only be a sell-out not a victory”.

 “Avoiding such a situation by not having a “transition” where we are a vassal state, will see Britain in the same position as Norway, Iceland and Faroe and the EU will have to seek arrangements to be allowed to continue to fish our waters and resources on an equal barter basis”.

Fishing for Leave said they are concerned that there is now a concerted elitist establishment campaign to thwart Brexit to name only.

Alan Concluded “It’s about time Brexiteers “take back control” to make sure we do really crack on an prepare to leave the EU properly – fishing is a key symbolic battle with a huge prize to be won for coastal communities and constituencies – a ‘transition’ would snatch this which is in touching distance as a beacon of success for all concerned”.

See also this article.

The good boys (and girls) of Brexit – you and me!

As Leo McKinstry pointed out, Remoaners are “the sorest losers in modern British history.” These arrogant individuals just cannot accept that more than half of those who voted in the June 2016 referendum decided  that we were better off returning to normality – in other words, re-joining the rest of the world as a self-governing nation. They ignore that fact that this incredible result was achieved in spite of the Leave side being very much the underdogs. Cameron chose to fight on as favourable ground for Remain as possible – a short campaign where the full government machinery was used to encourage us to stay in and giving us precious little time to put our point of view across. What is more, he recognised that there were bitter divisions within the Leave camp and no agreed exit plan, which worked to his advantage.

In spite of all these handicaps, we won – admittedly by a small margin. Had the referendum been held in the second half of 2017, as was widely anticipated in the months either side of the 2015 General Election, thus giving us longer to explain the true nature of the European Union, I have no doubt that Leave would have won by a far greater margin.

Even so, I doubt if the remoaners would have behaved any differently. The whingeing, the claims that geriatrics and the great unwashed swung if for Leave and the muck-raking around leading Leave campaigners would have been just the same if it had been a 60-40 majority.

The latest remoaner whinger to be brought to our attention is Molly Scott-Cato, the Green MEP for the South West.  She has launched a website which has borrowed its title from Arron Banks’ book describing the “Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign”,  The Bad Boys of Brexit. Unlike Mr Banks’ however, book, it isn’t a fun read, but then, humour has always been a conspicuously lacking feature of the eternally self-righteous Green Party.

The website features short biographies of 21 leading figures in the Leave campaign, prefaced by the chilling warning that “I think you will find what you read here frightening” as the website claims to “unpick, using widely available and credible sources, the stories of the people who funded and ran the dishonest and opaque campaigns that persuaded a majority of UK citizens to make a decision damaging to their future. Much of what happened remains shrouded in secrecy and considerable efforts have been made to hide the ugly truth.”

In all honesty. no one would admit that the referendum was won by a group of angels. Politicians and businessmen have their faults and some of the leading figures who supported leave have made some serious mistakes. We are reminded about Dr Liam Fox, for instance, who  “featured prominently in the Westminster expenses scandal of 2010, when it emerged that he had claimed more from the public purse than any other shadow minister.” Fair enough, but what about that arch-remainer Peter Mandelson? He has been at the centre of a scandal or two during his political career.  The implication that the remainers can somehow claim the moral high ground does not stack up.

Some of these “bad boys'” main crime seems to be nothing more than not supporting the ideology of the Green Party. Matt Ridley is a climate change sceptic and a supporter of fracking. For your average Green, holding such views puts you a par with neo-Nazis, and mass murderers (except. of course, if the latter happen to be Islamists).

Jacob Rees-Mogg‘s biggest crime merely seems to be that he is very rich  and that he sensibly has decided that he is better equipped to decide how to spend his own money that the State. What is wrong with that? Everything, it seems, if you are a Green.

I had never previously heard of Alexander Nix, whose main contribution to the leave campaign was via his company Cambridge Analytica, which skillfully targeted voters with an appropriate message on social media. So it’s fine for the government to use taxpayers’ money to produce a booklet telling us to stay in but somehow it’s wrong for the Leave side to hire a private firm to persuade us to leave?

Making contact with anyone connected with the Russian government is another heinous crime in Molly Scott-Cato’s eyes. For some reason,  even though Peter Hitchens correctly pointed out that Russia is as much a threat to the UK as the Klingons, it doesn’t seem to have dawned on some people that Putin’s Russia isn’t the same as the Soviet Union and doesn’t want either to invade us or to turn us into a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship (Perhaps she would be better advised to direct her self-righteous anger against John McDonnell instead, as he seems rather keener on this idea than Mr Putin). Scott-Cato’s  website suggests that she is happy to believe any “fake news” suggesting that Russia interfered with Brexit, with the US Presidential election and so on, while at the same presenting a very one-sided  view of the  Russia/Ukraine conflict with no mention of the covert EU support for the overthrow of the democratically elected but pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovich  in 2014,

The biggest criticism of this website, however, does not relate to the selective biographies of any one individual but rather to the implicit claim that somehow, these individuals bear the sole responsibility for the Brexit vote. In actual fact, as we pointed out on that memorable day when the result was announced. you did it – “the thousands of ordinary people who gave of their time and money so readily to distribute hundreds and thousands of leaflets and to canvass and campaign on the streets of our towns, cities and villages.”  It was truly a victory for grassroots campaigners who rolled up their sleeves and gave their all; unknown individuals with no skeletons in their cupboard to qualify them for inclusion on this insidious “bad boys” website. The likes of Molly Scott-Cato have had to lash out at the high-profile names because they cannot bring themselves to admit the truth of this.

I recall one such individual. I was having breakfast at a B&B in Hampshire after taking part in a debate in a neighbouring village the previous evening. A fellow guest joined me and we started chatting (unsurprisingly) about the referendum which, at the time, was less than two weeks away. I found out that he was going to vote leave and when I told him I had a few spare copies of our leaflets in my car, he asked if he could take them to distribute round the village in Somerset where he lived. To my knowledge, this gentleman had never done any political campaigning in his life before  – and probably hasn’t since.

Then there was that unforgettable “Battle of the Thames” six days before the actual vote when Fishing For Leave organised a flotilla of fishing boats which sailed under Tower Bridge and up to the Houses of Parliament, making a complete fool of Bob Geldof in the process. Our fishermen are not billionaires or sleazy politicians but widely-respected hard-working men who earn their living in challenging conditions, made much harder by the EU’s appalling mismanagement of fishing in our waters. Sympathy for their plight unquestionably boosted the Leave vote. I recall at least one hitherto undecided voter for whom fisheries was the issue which finally tipped him into supporting leave. He was not the only one, I am sure.

One hesitates to give an individual like Molly Scott-Cato the oxygen of publicity, but the sheer amount of claptrap on her website does merit a refutation. No one would deny that the leave-supporting media and some prominent individuals did play a part in securing the historic leave vote, but it is an insult to the many ordinary activists and the huge sacrifices they made to suggest that the result was entirely due to the big names. Yes, I do find the website frightening but not for the reason which the author suggests. Rather it is because it reveals the disdain for ordinary people, the arrogant bigotry and the insane jealousy which characterises the Greens. In the past, they  managed to hide these traits under the cloak of caring for the environment but websites like this show them in their true colours and it is not pleasant.