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An inconvenient truth, or two

Here we go again. ☺

 

Flash Crash Pound Smash

One would certainly not feel inclined to accuse the brexiteers of telling the truth. Okay, granted, Remain told a few porkies, but Brexit has abstained from anything even remotely resembling the truth. This is why it really wasn't a surprise to hear the "official" line on the recent Sterling tumble being the fault of the pessimistic "Remoaners".
Well... I laugh in your general direction, idiot Brexiteers.

Let's look at it in two different ways. First of all, if there is such a clear and obvious mandate for bombing out of the EU, why aren't your joy-joy feelings and jubilation swamping anything the so-called remoaners might be saying? After all, we're 48% which means you are 52%. God knows you're making enough noise, so why did this happen?

The answer to why this happened is in the second way of looking at it. And that is the inconvenient truth that very few people within the country have the power to change the value of a currency. If Lloyds bank declared itself insolvent, the markets would take a hit. Every time Mrs. May opens her mouth, the markets take a hit. Bad news of thousands of job losses will mean the markets take a hit. These things affect the value of the currency. There are measures that certain specific individual people can take in order to alter the value of the currency - quantitative easing, changing interest rates, thieving the pension fund to raise capital, that sort of thing. But the average remoaner? Let me state this: The current embarrassing line-up of self-serving selfish idiots in control of the United Kingdom is sounding the death bell for a once great country. The UK is over. It's going to rank in world importance somewhere between Andorra and Greenland.
Holy crap, did you see the markets in free-fall after I said that? The pound lost a quarter of its value in the time it's taken to write this sentence. Will there be no end to this carnage?

Of course, that's complete rubbish. The markets don't care what I say. The markets don't even know I exist. Multiply that sentiment by sixteen million, the markets really don't care what individual remoaners think. Because, quite simply, the value of a currency is determined from both the inside (that Flake will cost you 99p) and more importantly from the outside.

That is to say, foreign investment in the country, and the confidence that foreigners have in the country will determine the rate of exchange of the pound versus other currencies.
The pound lost around a quarter of its value, not because those sad saps who lost started whinging, but because those goddamned imbeciles that won have basically instructed the country to give a big "up yours" to one of the most influential trading blocs around. Yesterday the pound rallied slightly because May finally said what she wanted. Today, the pound is sliding again now that the actual implications of this are sinking in. As to when Article 50 is signed...

Look at it this way. You made one single decision and the pound sterling is taking a beating.
Conversely, the Euro - the naff currency that so many British papers, and now The Donald, are saying is going to die any moment now - survived the Irish crisis. It survived Italy's insolvency. Greece's ongoing mess is no doubt on the way to becoming a national joke (How much does a Greek Urn?) and yet... the Euro has been plodding along. Sometimes up a little, sometimes down a little, but no giant shock waves. Indeed, more countries are joining the monetary union and more countries are embracing what it means to be European. So I really wouldn't put the champagne on ice, the way things are going, the EU as we know it will outlive the UK as we know it.

 

Little Britain

...has never been so true as it is now. May, in her speech, was quite impressive. Laying down the law, taking names and kicking ass, and any other cliché that seem appropriate. Some selected quotes with commentary follows. You can read an entire transcript if that's what floats your boat.

They voted to shape a brighter future for our country.
No, they voted to kick out foreigners, stop throwing money at scummy Europeans, and to say "screw you" to Cameron.

They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world.
They voted to kick out foreigners and stop throwing money at scummy Europeans. Twist what happened all you like, the two primary points of the referendum were the Boris Bus and it's 350M figure emblazoned across the side, and Farage's line of migrants poster. Those were the two things people will remember.

And they did so with their eyes open: accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at times, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for their children – and their grandchildren too.
"Hey honey, real soon now you will cease to be a European, and you know all those rights and things that our parents help establish? Well, they won't apply to you any more. All those partnerships and business opportunities, Erasmus and the like? Kiss it goodbye. Forever."
Yup, that's the brighter future that parents have put in place for their children.

I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before.
Despite Brexit having created more divisions than even the old Tory/Labour choice ever managed. Fairer? You tell me how a little over a third of the electorate buggering up good relations with an important trade bloc is fair. In fact, let the Brexiteers just remain silent until they can sensibly explain why this fairer and more united country means the xenophobic English can throw their weight around and completely and utterly ignore the democratic wishes of the Scottish people. Oh, yes, I'm not going to let that one drop as remarkably every single county in Scotland voted for remaining a part of the EU. Every. Single. One. And, of course, the Brxiteers are being completely fair when they are running around spouting bull about "clear mandate" and "overwhelming majority" so they can demand what England has asked for without any thought about what Scotland voted for. Or Northern Ireland. Or Gibraltar. That's your "fairer" for you, right there.

a magnet for international talent
Uh, it kind of was. Maybe nobody ever realised it, but international companies saw the UK as a useful gateway into Europe. Why? Because as a part of Europe it was easy to access, both in business terms and physically. Plus, the UK wasn't that unlike dealing with America - after all, English is the universal language (for better or worse), and it's the language of the UK. The UK also had a number of interesting concessions and a position that made it powerful within Europe. It was in the unusual position of being sort of on the sidelines but with influence.
Well, they kinda buggered that up. The reason to trade with and within the UK may soon be...for that purpose alone.

the best friend and neighbour to our European partners,
This is truly amazing. I'm not even sure a famously unruffled comedian such as Jack Dee could repeat this one with a completely straight face.

but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too
Of course, because - you know - France, Germany, and the like. They don't do any trade with the rest of the world, do they?

A great, global trading nation that is respected around the world
It was, back in...oh, eighteen-something.

  • A quick aside here - I have said this before and I will repeat it again: I think what we are seeing here with the UK and America is that two countries who are used to being influential have been influential in the past by pushing others around. By bullying and threats. America has a propensity for blowing up what it doesn't like and slapping irrational sanctions that it just expects the world to agree too. The UK has a long colonial heritage.
    Thing is, these countries, they don't want to be pushed around any more. They are grouping together to form their own alliances, and they really don't need the likes of America or the UK to be telling them what to do.
    While Germany tends to call the shots, other countries get a say, and the decision making process is a tortuous process involving every part of every member state. Recently, Wallonia nearly derailed a long EU-Canada agreement. Can you even find Wallonia on a map without looking it up first? I don't think the UK ever really understood this, and this is why the UK never really integrated into the EU. They would prefer to see a list of countries ranked by importance so the important ones (Germany, and of course the UK) get to say what happens and the unimportant ones (Spain, Portugal, anything east of France that isn't Germany) get to shut up and listen. But it isn't like that. And I honestly don't think they ever really understood why.

how we will use this moment of change to build a stronger economy and a fairer society
This is obviously the mantra we're supposed to take home. It's been only two paragraphs since the last time she said this.

Why we will go further to reform our schools to ensure every child has the knowledge and the skills they need to thrive in post-Brexit Britain.
One could take this as an admission that schools are routinely failing children.

It’s why we will put the preservation of our precious Union at the heart of everything we do. Because it is only by coming together as one great union of nations and people that we can make the most of the opportunities ahead.
Coming together means compromise and respecting other people's wishes. If they can't manage that for the other countries of the united kingdom, it doesn't really bode well for the future.

Because Britain’s history and culture is profoundly internationalist.
The word you're looking for here is "colonialism".

We are a European country – and proud of our shared European heritage
So this is why people in the UK beat up on Czechians? Because they can't tell the difference between them and Poles and "they're all foreigners anyway"? She can talk big about happy shared heritages all she wants, but the news shows a more disturbing story.

one of the most multicultural members of the European Union
Not for much longer, note.

and why – whether we are talking about India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, countries in Africa or those that are closer to home in Europe – so many of us have close friends and relatives from across the world.
In these days of cheaper air travel and the ability of normal people to go to different places, this really isn't unusual. Shall I list some of the origins of people I'm friends with at work? Morocco, Tunisia, Guadalupe, Mauritius, Laos, Moldova... there was a Russian but she went back home. And that's one factory out in rural country. I ask these people about their home countries, climate, cultural things. It's a better way of learning about a place than just looking up Laos on Wikipedia and thinking "meh". I'm not looking at a Wiki article, I'm speaking to an actual real life Laotian. People move. People explore. Me? I'm not from around here either. It happens.

It remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in Britain’s national interest that the EU should succeed.
But obviously not enough in its interest to remain a part of it. Indeed, there is change on the horizon as I think the EU needs to try harder to re-engage with people and get them involved in its mission, rather than just being "the origin of another bunch of boring legislature that we periodically vote for who we want to represent us there". I believed the UK was in a fantastic position to help push this change, by being involved but less directly than other countries. Well, what a wasted opportunity to improve things all around.

Our political traditions are different.
Certainly. A lot of European law seems based on the idea of "that which is not permitted is forbidden", while the UK's law is more "that which is not forbidden is permitted".

Unlike other European countries, we have no written constitution,
This, I view as being to the detriment of British citizens.

but the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the basis of our unwritten constitutional settlement.
Fourteen words to say nothing, other than a passing reference to sovereignty which is going to become the main reason the UK will reject the Human Rights that it itself helped set up. This, of course, will mean with no actual constitution and no recourse to internationally agreed human rights, the "rights" of British people will be even further eroded. The next time somebody signs an idiotic law such as The Snooper's Charter, where's your recourse to say it isn't fair? The next time the police just can't be bothered to delete DNA samples of people who are innocent, where's your recourse to say that such a thing is wrong? It's those pesky Human Rights that stopped the police keeping DNA samples for as long as they wanted...

The public expect to be able to hold their governments to account very directly,
And let me ask you: with nothing to refer to, how does one even attempt to hold the government to account? If there is no law prohibiting the police from kicking in the doors of homosexuals, does this mean that they can? Okay, granted, it is a blatant appeal to emotion, but that said, one of the Human Rights is the right to not be discriminated against on grounds such as sexuality, gender, colour, belief, etc. Will the UK put in place a similar guarantee? Will the government and its agents be obliged to follow it or only us little people?

but the blunt truth, as we know, is that there was not enough flexibility on many important matters for a majority of British voters.
The blunt truth, as you really know, is that the majority of British voters don't give a crap. Cameron might as well have gone to the EU asking for every six year old girl to be given a pink pet unicorn at Germany's expense, for all anybody actually cared. The voters didn't like or trust the EU, nor Cameron for that matter. He didn't get everything he asked for (sorry girls, no pink unicorns) ergo The EU Is Bad.

You can respond by trying to hold things together by force, tightening a vice-like grip that ends up crushing into tiny pieces the very things you want to protect.
Rather like the official stance on Brexit then, huh? Because, you know, all those parts that voted Remain, they don't matter do they?

We want to buy your goods and services, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.
Basically everything the EU has to offer, only without that bit about freedom of movement of citizens and compliance to group laws.
You know what I believe this is down to? I believe it is down to the refugee crisis. Refugees that are officially accepted into a country may eventually become citizens. And as citizens they will be Europeans. And as Europeans, under the freedom of movement thing, hundreds of thousands of Muslims can all pile into the UK.
I know, it's cynical as hell, but I can't help feeling that this is one of the reasons why everybody on an island, that isn't part of Schengen is freaking out over immigration. I'd love to be proven wrong, but...

You will still be welcome in this country as we hope our citizens will be welcome in yours.
By what degree of "welcome"? Welcome to come for a holiday? Welcome to come and live? Welcome to come and live and work?

That is why last year we acted quickly to give clarity about farm payments and university funding.
Not really. If article 50 is signed in 2017, Britain's membership of the EU finishes in 2019 and the budgets (depending upon EU sentiment) may well last until 2020. That year, 2020, is how far the "clarity" went. As for university funding, if you mean Erasmus, then those budgets have already been decided and set aside until the end of 2019 (two years in advance). Perhaps it would be more prudent to clarify what happens afterwards, when there is no EU funding, no CAP, no £350M/week to splurge on stuff.

So we will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why it is a really bad idea to have the Prime Minister be same person as the former Home Secretary that never lived down a ten year (give or take) legal farce with a hook-handed Cleric. While said Cleric may well have been guilty as hell, we should not lose sight of two things: One, she bloody let him into the country. Remember, the UK is an island. Why is immigration control so difficult? And Two: What this means, when you read between the lines, is that she wants it to be perfectly okay to send a person back to a country known for using torture to extract "confessions". That doesn't matter so long as the person is no longer in the UK.
If the policy of the UK is going to be to return undesirable people to environments where torture and potentially death are practised (as opposed to, you know, not letting them in in the first place), then what is the actual moral standpoint of the British government? Such a thing makes me feel sick. It's on par to America shuffling supposedly nasty people to a foreign encampment so that the constitution and legal process doesn't apply. These should not be the ambitions of a country that, in May's own words, is a country that is "stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before".

And those laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country.
Just for the record, most Human Rights cases are actually heard in British courts. Sometimes the British court will ask the Luxembourg court for an opinion, and that opinion once offered may be accepted or ignored at the discretion of the British court. It is actually rare for a case to be heard in the court in Luxembourg, because, you know, it isn't Judge Judy. Things heard there are usually complicated, involved, and have pan-EU significance. And yes, it is supranational because quite often it is people arguing that their governments are doing things they shouldn't. Or not doing things they should. What national court do you think is going to be willing to take on the government? Or, rather, what national court do you think is going to be capable of taking on the government without interference, influence, or other factors meaning that justice will depend upon the whims of a select group of people?

We have already received a paper from the Scottish Government, and look forward to receiving a paper from the Welsh Government shortly. Both papers will be considered as part of this important process.
Oddly enough the Welsh paper is considered so important that this press conference was held without having received it. I do indeed wonder how she plans to placate the Scottish who are being yanked out of Europe contrary to their clear and overwhelming (way more so than the overall result) democratic will. Somehow I rather imagine "consideration" will involve a paper shredder...

Fairness demands that we deal with another issue as soon as possible too. We want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states, as early as we can.
As a person who is directly affected by this (and denied the ability to vote, I might add), this is important. Moreso, in exactly what form will my rights be guaranteed? At this time I am an EU citizen, I am proud to be an EU citizen, and to be brutally honest I regard that as more important than being a British citizen (and that's not a result of Brexit, I am just very pro-Europe). Will she guarantee that I will continue to be an EU citizen? That, as a person living in the EU, those rights will remain available to me? After all, while it would certainly give much peace of mind that I can continue to live and work in France (at this time not even that is clear), it would be madness if I had to apply for a travel visa to go on holiday to Italy. I am not a British person who happens to be living and working in France, I am a European. Will the British government guarantee that?

  • Aside: For what it is worth, I receive nothing from the British government. I am in the French system, I work here, pay taxes and social security contributions here, and live here. My pension rights are here. My life is here.

That starts with our close friends and neighbours in Europe. So as a priority, we will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
This bizarre statement is followed by a lot of words stating that she doesn't want to be a part of the Single Market but she wants to set up her own custom Single Market where everything is like before except there's no supranational justice, no transfer of people, and no paying lots of money into the EU. What the hell? This is surely the crowning "have your cake and eat it" phrase right here. Yes, I can see Europe falling over themselves to set this up.

And President Elect Trump has said Britain is not “at the back of the queue” for a trade deal with the United States, the world’s biggest economy, but front of the line.
I would exercise extreme caution in dealing with a man who wants to apply heavy taxation to Chinese goods (to encourage Americans to buy American stuff) and hassled Ford into abandoning plans to build a car plant in Mexico (because American cars must be built in America). He is protectionist. He believes in America first, period. As the American president-to-be, he is entitled to feel that way. But please, for the love of god, don't be so stupid as to think that he will cut any sort of "special" deal that isn't in the better interests of America. Protectionism and being nice to historical colonial overlords... it's just two concepts that are as incompatible as acid and base. Westminster, tell me you aren't that stupid. Please, tell me.

And we have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation.
I wonder how much of that has European involvement. The ESA and CERN to name two that easily come to mind...

Instead, I want us to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article Fifty process has concluded.
This is an absolute joke given it's taken six months to get as far as a twelve point list of objectives (as opposed to "Brexit means Brexit"). Does the government have any idea whatsoever what this process will involve?

The Right Deal for Britain
She keep saying that as if she thinks the UK is important enough to make such demands. I think the sucking up to America is a fishing expedition because, at heart, everybody knows there is absolutely no way the entire EU separation process will be completed within the two year time frame and the UK is in the extraordinarily weak position of saying "we don't want you on your terms, but wait, we need you on our terms" to its European allies. The EU itself is a hulking monster in dire need of reform, but the concept of the EU is good and sound and there's nothing particularly wrong with it. Indeed, it is bold and imaginative and it requires people to be understanding, tolerant, and willing to embrace people's differences. Only May... she uh... doesn't want to be a part of that. She wants to have her own custom EU that doesn't come with any of the baggage of actually being a part of the EU.
I'm sorry, a Flat What just doesn't do justice to how utterly asinine this is.

that every stray word and every hyped up media report is going to make it harder for us to get the right deal for Britain
Funny how nobody cared about the column inches miles of bollocks being printed by - specifically - The Telegraph, The Express, and The Daily Mail. There were others, but those are the main offenders that I noticed. Special merit points to The Express for the downfall of Merkel, Euro, Germany, and everything non-British about a dozen times. Next they'll be passing off Nostradamus as news. Oh, wait, that's their weather report, isn't it?

I am confident that a deal – and a new strategic partnership between the UK and the EU – can be achieved.
I'm not.

and after my Cabinet colleagues David Davis, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson have done the same with their interlocutors, I am confident that the vast majority want a positive relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit.
Ah, yes. That would be the same Boris that more or less implied that the French President is a Nazi; showing a distinct lack of tact and diplomacy that makes me question if he is even suitable for the job, a distinct lack of sensitivity in dealing with Europe, a distinct lack of understanding in why the EU was founded in the first place, and not to mention it's really fucking childish to bring up the war in such a context.

When the 27 Member States say they want to continue their journey inside the European Union, we not only respect that fact but support it.
As do I. I think be now you might have figured out where my allegiance lies.

That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend.
What is this, a subtle hint of a declaration of war? I should point out that four paragraphs up she points out that Britain and France are Europe's only nuclear powers.

The "calamitous self-harm", in my opinion, is happening right here.

But for the EU, it would mean new barriers to trade with one of the biggest economies in the world.
Wait, what? If Britain can't get what it wants, the EU can't trade with China?
Oh.
My God.
She's talking about the UK.
Hell of an ego, there.
Let's be realistic, there is likely nothing that the UK does that can't be recreated in Europe, and in the long term there's probably little the UK buys that can't be bettered by the EU - as a whole - looking to alternative markets. Like, oooh, I dunno... Canada, perhaps?

For what it is worth, the ranking by GDP is: America, China, Japan, Germany, UK, France, India, Italy, Brazil, and Canada.
UK and France leapfrog each other, and there's a real possibility that China will best America soon. Otherwise, that's the GDP based line-up.
The EU (as a whole) comes in shadow second place after America according to the IMF and World Bank, or shadow first place (ahead of America) according to the UN. While there's not a lot in it, I can now sort of see why Trump despises the EU and the UN. Something better than America? That can't be! ☺

It would jeopardise investments in Britain by EU companies worth more than half a trillion pounds.
I wouldn't be surprised if the likes of EDF were not already extremely worried about the future regarding the UK. It would be beneficial to have a nice simple easy deal, but if such a thing came to pass, then exactly what would be the point of the EU?

It would mean a loss of access for European firms to the financial services of the City of London.
Remind me, how many banks announced today that they are moving significant personnel into Europe? Something a lot of people don't understand is that banking is a long term game where profit is what matters. We may hear about flashy gamblers hedging insane bets, but a lot of banking takes a longer view of things. It is sensible, because money that arrives in an instant can disappear just as quickly. It isn't reliable. It isn't the essence of stability. With that in mind, do not fool yourself into believing that banks are not already conducting risk analysis to determine if a European base will give better long-term results than remaining in The City. And The City is only powerful so long as everybody agrees. If companies start moving, say, to Frankfurt, then The City will be progressively weakened for each company that leaves. This is where Britain needs to be careful. It has a rich, diverse, and powerful services industry in London and the financial sector. But ask yourself - what is tying them all to London and what would cause them to move away? The truth is, the UK needs Europe to be kind, not the other way around.

Important sectors of the EU economy would also suffer.
Mmm, remind me, wasn't one of the (many) Brexit lies that imports and exports with the EU were just not that big a deal and that the EU needed the UK more than the UK needs the EU?

that they want to make them poorer, just to punish Britain and make a political point.
Depends. If the alternative is to say "well, this EU thing, you don't really need to be a part of it to get all the benefits", then yes. I think telling the UK to shove it is entirely reasonable. Remember, whatever language the British might choose, it is them walking away from the EU. They were not kicked out. They chose this course.
They are also choosing to make a full withdrawal from the EU to then set up a custom EU-like (without the unpleasant bits) trade agreement. It's madness. Which part of Europe is going to consider that to be acceptable? The right deal for Britain? What sort of deal would that be from the European side? Oh, yes, this is the colonial bend over and kiss my ass approach, right? Those days are over.

And the overwhelming majority of people – however they voted – want us to get on with it too.
Of course they do, it's taken six bloody months to get as far as a simple outline of what fantasies lay in store. Six months. Is there anybody on the planet (that isn't a Tory MP) who actually thinks all this stuff is going to be done and dusted in the two year time frame? Anybody? Put your hand up. Hello? Hello?

 

This speech is not quite Bill Pullman's rousing piece in Independence Day (as idiotically quoted by Farage), but for what the speech turned into in the end, there might as well be aliens and tripods and One! Appeared! Above! Big Ben! Uuuuulllllaaaaaaa!!!!!!

 

 

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