It’s the Easter holidays and the MPs, probably for their own sanity’s sake, are on holiday so there are no dramas to report. Although I will say that, exactly as before, the week we were granted the extension began in high anxiety mode and then fizzled out, with MPs just disappearing to their aforesaid holiday. Yet, you hope there is a little bit of work going on. Because have our woes ended? No they have not. We just have a ‘flex-extension’ to 31 October, which is also Halloween!

I’ll give you the running order over the next 6 months, and then a short comment, which is not the much longer piece I keep promising. OK, so this is how it’s all panning out:

  • 23 April: MPs return from their holidays
  • 25 April: Closing date for nominations for the European parliament elections – yes, we have to participate in these elections
  • 2 May: local elections in England and Northern Ireland, which will be interesting. Watch those results
  • 9 May: EU leaders summit – it is to discuss their post-Brexit future. Mrs May not attending
  • Mid-May: the last chance for legislation to be put into place for a 2nd referendum – it’s gone a bit quiet on this one
  • 22 May: last-chance salon for the current and, officially, the only Withdrawal Agreement to be passed leading to our exit and non-participation in the EU elections
  • 23 May: EU elections – be prepared for a lot of noise leading up to this date
  • 26 May: results of the EU elections
  • 30 May-11 June: another holiday, possibly
  • 20-21 June: EU will assess how far we’ve kicked the can down the road
  • 30 June: this is the date Mrs May says we should leave the EU, because from this day British MEPs have to take up their seats in the new EU Parliament. Mrs May could quit now – or maybe not
  • the summer: more holidays or a General Election
  • 22 September – 2 October: Party Conferences
  • 10 October: last-chance salon for a General Election or 2nd Referendum
  • 31 October: Our extension expires

My prediction? Nothing will change.  Within Parliament there will be a lot of debate and, probably, quite a bit of goodwill and reaching out across parties. But, as it’s been said before, MPs know what they don’t like but there is still little agreement on what they do like. However, it would be foolish to say any more.  No pundit, of any side, truly knows what might happen.

I’ll just say a few words on the following:

I still think there is very little positivity about staying in the EU. We see a lot about the economic consequences and the general awfulness of leaving, but there is still isn’t much about the positives. And yes, while it was to a certain extent about trade when we joined, I am old enough to remember holes in streets where bombs had fallen. To see countries that fought so bitterly sitting down together is a joy we should celebrate. And there is so much more to be joyful about as well: the opportunities for our children and grandchildren to move to, and work in, Europe for starters.

And talking about trade. Did you know about the just-in-time deliveries? I knew nothing about these deliveries, and didn’t even think about them. We voted in ignorance of this and many other things, including the critical point of the Northern Ireland border.  That issue did not cross my mind once, and I apologise for that.

Yes, Northern Ireland.  We British, I mean the English, what do we know of the 30 years of the Troubles?  And Irish history?   Although you might tell me different, not a lot, I think. And note I’m acknowledging my ignorance here.  This is such a sensitive and delicate issue we should never have voted without a huge amount of information on why we cannot have a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Actually, the Irish were far more aware of this than we were. Read this (and see reference below) and weep that Ireland not only had a huge advantage, rightly so, because the EU supported one of its own, there was also our total ‘Brexit comprehension lag’ and ‘the ineptitude’ on the part of the British.

This incompetence on our part I see as a consequence of a certain sort of Brit who rises to the top; of any tree. Boris Johnson is a typical example of this type. He appears clever and well read, but it is not a rigorous cleverness, and actually it’s not useful to focus in on just one person. He is typical of his class, which dominates everywhere and everything. And part of this domination (and I’m reducing this argument to a couple of sentences when it warrants a whole essay or book even) is to see ourselves as ‘exceptional’.  Consequently, we do not see, I mean, the English do not see, who we are and what we have done in the past as clearly as we should. And we were and definitely still are not clear about our leaving of the EU and our subsequent role in the world.

Anyway, let us see what happens over the next few weeks. And in the meantime, Happy Easter!

Penny Kocher 18 April 2019

Further reading:  How the Irish backstop emerged as May’s Brexit nemesis. Rory Carroll and Lisa O’Carroll. The Guardian, 18 April 2019

Also: The six-month extension. Key dates for Britain and the EU. The Guardian, 13 April 2019

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3 thoughts on “Apocalypse Now? No, not yet, because we’re all on holiday

  • 25th April 2019 at 03:07
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    If you think JIT logistics has anything to do with leaving or remaining in the EU, you have been misled. JIT has been around for, oh, 40 years and is practised in all countries. We manage it perfectly well without belonging to a trade bloc like the EU. We manage it perfectly well even though in Australia we are thousands of miles from our major trading partners.

    Where those in the EU see it as free trade, the rest of the world sees the EU as an inward-looking, fairly inefficient block of countries with pretty large tariffs against the rest of the world i.e. not free trade.

    Britain has been totally failed in the last 20 years by its political and bureaucratic classes. This has been exacerbated by its persistent class structures. I know of no other anglophone country where people so exclusively mix with people of the same class. For 150 years, Britain has underpaid its engineering and technical classes and absurdly rewarded ninnies with PPEs from Oxford and the ‘right’ background.

    Pro-EU supporters are, in the main, the new ‘rentier’ classes. I frequently hear this class murmur about who will look after the elderly (Japan anyone?) or be their cleaner or barista or look after their children. Diversity to these people means an ethnic restaurant.

    Australia has clear guidelines about who can migrate and who can’t. It’s not perfect but it does it best to ensure that mass migration does not drive down the wages of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

    Australians do not confuse controlled migration with racism.

    As far as Brexit is concerned I’m neutral. Brexit could have been managed but incompetence at all levels has ensured that they are now no winners.

    Reply
    • 25th April 2019 at 07:19
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      You are so right about how little we mix with the different ‘layers’ and classes within our society. Brighton is very ‘green’ and left-wing and very very liberal in all manner of things. Most of my friends say they have never met anyone who voted to Leave. Somewhat more mixed was the place I lived in for over ten years. A small rather run-down port with lots of very interesting people living there. You knew not to introduce politics into the conversation with some people. Equally interesting was the cruise we went on last year when out of the 900 passengers 898 were Remainers. This was Middle England on holiday. Nice people, very clear that they wanted ‘sovereignty’ not that they could really define that other than ‘less interference’ from abroad/Europe/foreigners. I’m afraid that sticks in my gullet. And most were older than me (I am 72). Actually people were quite interested in us as they’d never met anyone who’d voted to stay and were puzzled, but when we said we lived in Brighton – that explained everything! Agree – we don’t really mix in our society.

      Actually can I say I relish comments like yours – there is so little rational debate here. Its all about feelings. And setting aside Middle England, there is a so much resentment against the Establishment and much of the vote was a protest – rightly so.

      We had little clear information when we voted and still don’t. But JIT will not work at all after a no-deal where everything will be chaotic for, hopefully, a short time. Talk about the Tories being the party for business! I think my lack of knowledge of JIT is excusable, what is not is the lack of knowledge and thought about Northern Ireland.

      The incompetent and the bad management of the withdrawal has been immense. I’ll say it again that after the shock of the vote I would have gone with it if there had been any plan or ‘vision’ of the future outside Europe. Nope, there was none. And then the negotiations………… All behind closed doors so that no-one not even her Cabinet knew what was being negotiated or agreed, let alone the public.

      You are so right about how ninnies with a PPE are revered and rewarded here. I would include anyone who goes into ‘management’ (sorry, and I do mean higher management, but read https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/dec/24/what-we-have-lost-by-james-hamilton-paterson-the-dismantling-of-great-britain ) People with actual technical and scientific knowledge? No. But are they heard anywhere? Scientists around the world have been banging the drum about global warming for decades, but only now……. Example. The BBC has finally decided not to have a counter-factual (as in non-factual) denier interviewed at the same time as a scientist speaking about climate change. Which they said was in the name of ‘balance’. You couldn’t make this up………..

      Re :EUimmigration. I know that there were tighter regulations that could have been put into place to curb EU immigration. They weren’t put into place. Um, why not? Was this just an incompetent cock-up???? Personally I like my world to be multi-cultural and the NHS would not be able to function without people from all over the world participating in it. However, has anyone from any party dealt with the collapse of heavy industry and its flight to the cheapest operators. What do people do without those factories? Go into the gig economy that’s what. The Labour Party (and I think same for the Democrats over in the States) has not dealt with this fundamental change in our society and the way it works for ordinary people – and they rightly feel abandoned.

      I’m so fed up with the whole pantomime – which it has been. And I can’t predict too far ahead but I think we’ll leave – how, not quite sure how.

      Thanks again for your comment, I really really appreciate it.

      Reply
  • 29th April 2019 at 13:18
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    Our system hasn’t worked, and by that I mean political and economic. We have been too wedded to short termism and those of us who really thought this wasn’t a sensible way to go (in which I include myself) haven’t been vocal or dedicated enough to change things, probably just for an easier life. The last 10 years since Austerity began have been dreadful for huge swathes of people but not us in the middle – mostly we’ve just pottered on. I’m depressed by the lack of balanced information in a supposedly Information Age, I can’t even find out what my soon to be elected council representatives are in favour of or against. It’s been years since I had any reasoned information on what any of the political parties really intended to do. I’m hugely surprised that after so many broken promises of various sorts, the Tories suddenly decided that a Brexit referendum was the promise they had to keep ( for their anti- euro MPs of course- not because of us voters). Our system seems not just damaged but rotten all the way through, and I’m frightened to death of what will follow. Even if Brexit doesn’t follow( and I hope it won’t) I can’t believe that we will have any residual faith in our political system to work for the majority of voters. Ho hum. Thanks for expressing yourself so clearly on this devastating topic. It’s a breath of fresh air.

    Reply

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