Holiday homework – suggested reading

So much of the information around the Brexit debate is highly partial and skewed to one agenda or another, as politicians, media folk and journalists ride their hobby horses fiercely in all directions, often to tight deadlines which preclude calm thought and deep research. So it is refreshing to have a balanced view from a man of undoubted expertise, deep knowledge and unrivalled experience who is trying to bring some clarity and balance to the debate.

Sir Ivan Rogers was the UK’s Representative to Brussels until his resignation shortly before Mrs. May’s Lancaster House Speech in January 2017. His parting advice to his colleagues was that they must be sure to speak truth to power, especially when the truth was unwelcome. Judging from subsequent events, it seems that all of it may not have got through.

Here he reviews the history of the Eurosceptic debate and suggests a way forward towards the achievement of a rational, prosperous and mutually satisfactory relationship with our nearest neighbours and largest trading partners, as well as with the wider world.

His comments on free trade, the customs union and the unrealistic tone of much of the post-referendum debate are well worth reading. While one cannot know exactly where Sir Ivan stands, he comes across as one of those people who, while naturally not wanting us to be leaving the EU, has accepted the result and genuinely wants to see a successful Brexit. There are unquestionably some pseudo-Brexiteers around – i.e., people who deliberately wish to create a Brexit in name only in order to prepare the ground for our re-entry into the EU, but there are also a good number of ex-remain supporters who are far more concerned about the consequences of a botched Brexit and don’t have any hidden agenda. The insights of such people are well worthy of consideration, regardless of their stance prior to the 2016 referendum.


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  1. StevenReply

    Much though I don’t wish to admit it, perhaps the best thing to do is to call this thing off? After all, trying to settle this important issue through using the blunt instrument of the referendum device was always going to cause a massive upheaval, be destablising to parliament and the country etc. At any rate, no one from Teresa May down or pretty much anyone else in the government or civil service appears to know what they are doing or what they should do next and even if we did get a proper, real Brexit no one in parliament seems to know what to do with the newly-found independence or would use it for British interests. Cancel Brexit ON ONE CONDITION and that condition is that we are allowed by Establishment to have a proper, modern democracy at long last ie a system of proportional representation so that ALL our votes can truely count wherever we reside in this country and we can then vote for political parties which don’t have this as their single issue but incorporate it as it should be amongst many others. Perhaps, if we had this since the early 1970’s we wouldn’t have got into this almighty mess as a country?

    • maryReply

      Steven, this mess of a Brexit by the Government is deliberate,have . I think you are falling into the trap they want you to fall into: ie get overwhelmed with all the details and then want to give up on Brexit. Our whole civilisation is at stake here and its vital that we persevere with Brexit.

  2. Edward SpaltonReply

    Perhaps surprisingly to some, Steven,

    It seems that Sir Ivan is more of a convinced a Brexiteer than you are!

    • StevenReply

      I am one too but I don’t think it is too churlish to say we are in a bit of a mess today to put it mildly and that is a viewpoint that can be subscribed to by both leavers and remainers. I want to see a proper Brexit which is now (wrongly) defined as a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit. To me, there is only one type of Brexit and that is leaving all of the various mechanisms of the EU (single market ect) behind. I was just trying to point out how we have arrived at this point over the last four decades. Remainers like John Major etc are very much to blame after all he was so immature as to label the perfectly reasonable wish of the Lib Dems for a new PR electoral system as, “Paddy’s Roundabout” in the 1992 general election and to treat what is a serious issue like a small, spoilt child and he also refused to give us a referendum on the Maastrict Treaty which, in some ways, would have been better than to have an in/out one as it would have been much more specific. EU enthusiasts like him never really sought to bring the people along with his way of thinking which is why he was so scared to putting that treaty (other PMs have been the same) to referendums and to my mind because he didn’t and other various treaties were not put before us to vote on we have arrived at this juncture.

      • StevenReply

        Of course, Edward Heath made the original mistake of NOT allowing us to have a PRE-LEGISLATIVE referendum on our Common Market membership in 1972 as Norway and the Republic of Ireland did.

        • Adam HileyReply

          when We are finally free of the euro racket the law ought to be changed so Referendums are legally binding and Anna Soubry is certified insane and ambulanced off to a Mental Hospital

          • Steven

            Adam, apart from the grotesque FACT the vast majority of votes cast in Britain have NO real effect upon outcomes in general elections due to the archaic nonsense of First Past The Post (at the last election some 60% PLUS of all votes didn’t elect a candidate) another HUGE failing of our so-called ‘democracy’ is that we are one of the very few countries in the world which doesn’t have a written and codified constitution. If we had one, then when we do have referendums we could set rules about them ie whether they were binding upon government or merely advisory and whether there should be minimum percentages of the electorate taking part in them to take effect (like the one on devolution in Scotland in 1978 where a Labour MP put down an amendment in the legislation beforehand saying it would only happen if 40% of the Scottish electorate voted yes not merely those who participated in the referendum and voted yes).

          • Steven

            Our entire Common Market/EEC/EU problem was caused by Edward Heath when he pushed the United Kingdom into the Common Market with only a bare number of votes in parliament in his favour (just 8 votes his European Communites Act 1972 passed by, I believe). He CLAIMED that he would only join the then Common Market if he could obtain the, “full hearted consent of the British people” before doing this. Well, practically-speaking, that meant he should have announced a PRE-LEGISLATIVE referendum on membership in 1972 and seeked to obtain our approval BEFORE the European Communities Act 1972 was passed and took effect on January 1st 1973. By British law, he didn’t have to do any of this and didn’t but that is what SHOULD have been done and then we wouldn’t have had this 40 plus year running drama in the Tory Party or in the country. BOTH Norway and the Republic of Ireland had these pre-legislative referendums in 1972 with the Norwegians rejecting membership and the Irish supporting it.

            It was and remain a real failing of our so-called ‘democracy’ that we have no rules on referendums or when they should be called and we have no written, codified constitution setting-out the rules on them, no INHERENT RIGHT to freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly ect.

            As far as GENUINE democracy goes, this country STINKS to high heaven!

  3. StevenReply

    To me, Edward, I hope Brexit results in us returning to the state whereby we regain our national independence, cease being a province of the EU (even a partial one) and where we are in charge of our national destiny once again. Of course, being an EU member is not compatible with those aspirations and Brexit must not deviate from them.

  4. Adam HileyReply

    I think the British people are soon going to be pushed too far by the corrupt elite that run the 3 parties the Financial services the Press and Big Businesses

    • StevenReply

      Let us hope so in some ways. The Establishment in its various guises has been taking the mick in this country for far too long over many issues and not just this one.

  5. Phil JonesReply

    Stephen if you call Brexit off, democracy will never return to the UK. At present only 1/3 of new UK law originates at Westminster, the other 2/3s coming in as Directives that get rubbers-stamped at Westminster. And where do the Directives originate? They originate with the European Commission, that non-elected body at the heart of the EU. The EC sends the new laws to the European Parliament where they are invariably accepted, so just rubber-stamped. So two rubber stamps result in non-elected persons originating 2/3s of new UK law. Call that ‘democracy’? I think not.

    As for all of the arguments for ‘proportional representation’, all that would do is change the way that the 1/3 of UK law orginated at Westminster is created. No meaning at all in the bigger picture.

    And if you read the Treaty on European Union, after the Lisbon Treaty amendments a ‘European Constitution’, you will see that for all intents and purposes it has Articles in its latter part for transferring power (read: sovereignty) from the Member States (read: provinces) to the EU central government — but no Articles for transferring power in the opposite direction, i.e. returning power to the provinces. Very interesting those Articles. The US and Canadian federal constitutions fixed the power-sharing between the federal and provincial levels of government at their creation, although new areas since such as aeronautics have often resulted in court cases as to which government (provincial or federal) has the power over the new area. The British people have been sold one massive load of goods by successive British Governments over the last half century. If the British people only knew half of the shenanigans that have gone on to sell out their sovereign right to self-government over the past half century, there would be rioting in the streets. I only hope with all my heart that we (I’m British and another nationality) stand up against Mrs. May and her attempt to oppose and turn around the people’s Referendum vote. I find the woman totally disgusting, a liar and a betrayer of the public’s trust. Her treatment of David Davis was disgusting. Two years of hard work the man put in — and the whole time she had Robbins and Europhile civil service preparing her May-Robbins’ Sell-out Scheme, aka the Four Freedoms Retained Via The Back Door..

  6. ThomasReply

    Absolutely right, Phil. What is the point of abandoning Brexit for a different type of electoral system? So a larger number of MPs can bow to Brussels?

    Imagine Theresa May speaking to Parliament: “We will stay in the EU after all because we are ignoring the will of the people so that their will will be better represented in Parliament”

    • StevenReply

      We NEED BOTH and it IS ONLY WITH BOTH that the Leave campaign slogan of, ”Lets Take Back Control” will have any real meaning in the real world. The EU at least gave me a reasonably FAIR vote which had approximately EQUAL WEIGHT with another elector SOMETHING I DON’T GET FROM THE UNDEMOCRATIC FASCIST SCUM OF TORY OR LABOUR!

      You may not think that is important but I DO and if it came to it I would be prepared to commit civil disobedience and even violence to obtain THAT HUMAN RIGHT AT HOME.

      The time for reasonable discussion with the SCUM of Tory and Labour on this important issue has long since passed since even the most mild call for it with them only results in POINT-BLANK REJECTION ALL THE TIME. and at any rate we PR campaigners only want a REFERENDUM on the issue NOT for Tory and Labour to junk their IMMENSELY SELFISH, SELF-CENTERED AND SELF-SERVING reasons to object to PR and legislate.

      They can continue with their UTTERLY SELFISH objections if they want but DON’T force it down my throat and say there is NO POSSIBILITY at all of ever changing it. We PR campaigners say PUT YOUR SQUALID selfishness to a REAL TEST in a REFERENDUM if you dare and then we can discuss the issue and see if your objections amount to anything more than a SELFISH desire to keep hold of your political cartel!

  7. StevenReply

    That referendum had last year (the result of which is being overturned) was like a breath of fresh air to me living as I do in a Tory stronghold that NEVER changes hands. For the first time in my life, I had a vote THAT COUNTERED and had EQUAL WEIGHT to somebody else’s who lived in the next door marginal seat. It isn’t unreasonable for me to want to have an EQUAL VOTE at EVERY election not just at once in 40-odd year referendums!

    • StevenReply

      If PR is so horrifically bad and only fit for those weird ‘johnnie foreigner’ on the Continent types then why did an English-speaking Commonwealth nation with our Head of State and with many people still of British descent like New Zealand have a mature public debate about the issue and dumped First Past The Post for the Mixed-Member Proportional Representation system of Germany in the 1990’s? Perhaps, Labour and Tory fascist scum would like to enlighten us as to why that happened? After all, New Zealanders can hardly be compared to the Krauts ,Frogs and other assorted dagos of Europe, can they?

  8. ThomasReply

    It is categorically incorrect to state that the EU gave you an equal vote. The people of Malta, for example, have a vote that is worth twice as much as yours in European elections because of their smaller population. This was one of the main concerns for UKIP MEPs.

    Why do we think we need to adopt another country’s system? Why not learn from PR and develop our own electoral system suited to the specific needs of our country?

    Democracy is not in its final death throes here; it is alive and kicking. The Tories are still the party with the largest share of the vote and are in government; just because you dislike that does not make it undemocratic.

    • StevenReply

      The Tories DON’T have the backing of the MAJORITY of the British people just more votes than Labour as even with Teresa Maybe’s lies about Brexit and other various matters they couldn’t obtain 50% of the national vote. I know, as an undemocratic Tory, such concepts as democracy are alien to you but even you will have to learn one day what it entails.

      As for PR, there are some decent models and it would be of no shame for us to adopt one of them. British exceptionism should have some reasonable limits. We have very little to condemm those awful Krauts for when it comes to democracy since WW2.

      • StevenReply

        If it were up to me, I would adopt the German system of PR but with one important improvement ie instead of having ‘closed’ regional lists in which voters are forced to vote for a slate of a particular party’s candidates we should, instead, have flexible ‘open’ regional lists whereby a voter can either endorse the party slate or choose a specific regional list candidate with their vote counting as a vote for that candidate and their affliated party. Thus, ALL candidates have to face the voters and this will lessen the power of party elites.

    • StevenReply

      Democracy isn’t in its final death throws here because it has never really existed (not in a modern form as many other countries in the world would understand it). You can’t, after all, die from something you’ve never truely had.

    • StevenReply

      It was STILL FAR MORE OF AN EQUAL VOTE than my own scummy Tory/Labour British government gave to me and even now in 2018 they STILL POINT BLANK refuse to give me a BRITISH-ORIGIN vote AT HOME that means anything in a Tory constituency which is so safe the Tory MP (who hasn’t even bothered to come to live here since he was first elected) could murder a new born baby and he would still win by landslide.

    • StevenReply

      I don’t have any regard for the Tories and why should I when they refuse to allow a vote for me to obtain a HUMAN RIGHT just because it doesn’t suit their interests. I view the Labour Party with similar contempt for the same reason

  9. StevenReply

    If the Germans can make PR work for them we can too. We are not any less intelligent than they are as a nation though effectively Tory and Labour are saying we are when they refuse point-blank to even coutenance holding a referendum on PR. I like to think that of all the peoples on the Continent, we British are pretty similar to the Germans.

  10. ThomasReply

    We could make PR work; I am not saying it is a bad system, but that improvements such as the one you name could be made and with the retention of some aspects of the current system.

    I am a fervent democrat, which is why I believe in leaving every single EU institution. The Tories are the largest, most popular party and it is democratically right that they should be in government. Nations around the world have for decades admired the British democracy and I for one am proud of our country.

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