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New Year, new weather

As the calendars were changed, a wave of cold swept across the land. Nobody needed to utter the trademarked phrase Winter is coming because it was quite clear that it had arrived.
The night of December 31st to January 1st went down to -3°C. The following night, it touched -6°C. Last night, a little less at -3°C but it had rained at some point before freezing.
AccuWeather predicts -3 (*) tonight with snow, and then between -3 (*) and -5 (*) until midmonth. To put that into context, the 'normal' for today is 8°C as a high and 3°C as a low. Not 3°C as a high and -3°C as a low.
The asterisks around are to point out that I live in a dip. This is useful when storms blow through as they tend to pass overhead, but it does also mean that what I experience is a degree or two less than the forecasts. That is part of the reason why Felicity's windscreen steams up so badly. Everything is acclimatised to the temperature of "here", and going to work means going up (in height) into town where it is warmer. And, you know, condensation will stick to the coldest thing, which will be my car.


Some photos:

The cold of winter
The cold of winter.

You can see the change in the colour of the sky
You can see the change in the colour of the sky.

Drying clothes in winter is hard
Drying clothes in winter is hard.


Life after Brexit

A couple of days ago, Britain experienced a mass outbreak of sovereignty. Politicians patted themselves on the back, somehow proud of what they had wrought. Business leaders and quite a number of ordinary people noticed not the sunny uplands of Valhalla but something entirely different. Things which were not gained, but were lost.
  • Border checks, now a thing. Along with all the associated paperwork.
  • It's possible to travel Visa-free within the EU, but only for 90 days in every 180.
  • The right to live and work in another EU country for people not already over here has pretty much reverted to how it was in the past ... if you have the money.
  • So don't expect to be able to sell an ex-council house and retire to one of the Costas.
  • And if you can afford it, you'll also need to afford healthcare as that's no longer available...
  • non EU citizens, which is what the British now are.
  • Roaming charges may well become a thing again. I'm sure mobile operators are already rubbing their hands in glee.
  • There will be quotas and zero tariffs of goods, but trade won't be frictionless any more. There will be customs formalities (the revenue authority estimates that this alone will cost an additional £7.5 billion a year).
  • And rules of origin procedures.
  • And SPS checks (Sanitary and phytosanitary).
  • And pet passports.
  • Also lost is any benefit the UK may have had from the EU's own international agreements...
  • ...along with any ability to influence said agreements. Britain used to be a leading country with a say and a veto. Now no longer.
  • No financial services passport (which may well hit The City pretty hard).
  • British professional qualifications will now no longer be easily recognised, if at all.
  • There's no more single aviation area, nor a single transport area for hauliers, nor even a single energy market.
  • Britain freaked out and made a big deal over the fact that it no longer has access to the military grade parts of the Galileo GPS system (ironically, due to a rule that Britain itself wanted built into the original agreements)...
  • ...yet they pretty much just shrugged at the loss of access to Erasmus, which seems like a bit of a petty screw you to the younger (more pro-EU) voters.
  • Loss of protections for worker's rights, anti-discrimination, agency worker rights... British employees are now at the mercy of the Conservative government. The same Conservative government that was defendent in numerous cases of citizens trying to protect their rights.
  • Loss of projects such as the European Rural Development, which has poured a lot of money into backwater rural places such as Brittany and Wales.

As for the benefits of Brexit? These are far less clearly defined. Such as:

  • The country will "finally" be in charge of its own destiny.
  • It can make exciting and powerful trade deals across the world without EU interference.
  • It can make itself a low-tax economy to attract investment.
  • And people saying words like "there's a raft of benefits but we don't have time to go through them", generally meaning they've run out of things to say but can't admit to that.

But, if you look carefully at the supposed benefits, they evaporate pretty quickly. Firstly, in order to benefit from an international agreement, you need to have the power to call the shots. Britain absolutely does not, as the last four years of negotiation with the EU should have made abundantly clear. The current agreement basically gives the EU many of the advantages of having the UK as a member, without offering a lot in return. It is especially telling that there is nothing to cover the services industry, one of Britain's strengths in the past. This was a deal to the EU's liking, not the UKs. But it included enough things that the hardline ERG let it pass. Or maybe they too were afraid of the prospect of crashing out, because for all of the threats and bluster, to make the agreement within days of the end date and rush it through Parliament suggests that the EU quite happily called Britain's bluff. You can do things like that when you're in the position of power.

Making agreements with America? Russia? India? China? Hell, Britain barely has any influence over the Commonwealth these days, never mind the countries one might want to trade with.
I can imagine trade deals with the United States easily involving foods deemed unsuitable for human consumption and allowing American parasites to infest and dismantle the NHS. What will Britain's response be? Will the leadership have the balls to say No and walk away, or will they try to spin a disaster as a good thing just like they have for Brexit over the past four years?

It is worth noting that a number of international firms saw the UK as a gateway to Europe. A modern, vibrant, English speaking country that was an EU member. This is no longer, which makes the UK less attractive. If you have a choice of a market of 67 million citizens, or over 320 million, which would you pick?
To put this into perspective, Chinese investment in the UK has fallen since the referendum, but has increased within the EU. In other words, what they wanted was access to the large market and Britain's place no longer provides that.

Then there's the low-tax part. Basically an attraction to venture capitalist vultures in a race to the bottom with a heavy erosion of worker's rights, public services, and benefits but healthy bonuses to the rich like... oh... those who made all of this happen.

Put extremely bluntly, while there may be a short term boost to the economy coming as a sort of relief that the country didn't actually crash out, the current agreement is a hurried and incomplete agreement that sort of kicks the can a few years down the road but was seen as acceptable to both sides.
It is only of real benefit to the British elite, the wealthy. The ordinary citizen will suffer not just as a direct result of Brexit, but also as the current pandemic delivers a jobs crisis coupled with the worst recession in three hundred years. Any fiscal arrangements that the EU as a whole put in place to protect their workers will not apply in any way to the UK. Leaving the single market and customs are will cause prices to rise. Both exports and imports. Which will translate to job losses and higher prices.

A deal has been done. But it's not a good deal. It's like punching yourself in the face and then being happy that you didn't knock a tooth out.

One really must ponder the question - was Brexit a political issue, or a mental health one?


Light at the end of the tunnel?

Scotland will be back soon
Scotland will be back soon, Europe.
Keep the light on 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿♥️🇪🇺♥️🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿



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John, 3rd January 2021, 15:39
> One really must ponder the question - was Brexit a political issue, or a mental health one? 
Well, it seems to have screwed-up both! As well as everything else!
Mick, 4th January 2021, 02:08
While majority of what you say I believe to be accurate, didn't we opt out of most worker rights already? What do you mean 'we aint seen nothing yet' yet? - gulp!!! Tories have been eroding rights for as long as I can remember.

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