As usual the political week was taken up with Brexit and that is the main theme for this weeks Blog. They say a week is long time in politics, they are not kidding. I have also touched on my favourite pet hate, gender equality and there is shock news from Russia. Finally, all is not well down pit.
Bordering on the ridiculous
So during Monday 4th December we start hearing that a deal has been brokered between the UK and the EU which will enable the progression on trade talks. Behind this story we have the rumour that agreement was reached was due to the UK caving in regarding the Irish border and that they had agreed to let Northern Ireland remain in the single market and customs union thus resulting in no hard border.
As a result of this the DUP announced that Northern Ireland must not be treated any differently to the rest of the UK in the negotiations and that they would not support any agreement where this is not the case. Obviously this would be disastrous to May and the Conservatives and call their alignment into question, thereby threatening the stability of the government.
Next we get a joint statement that the negotiations have failed to settle the division between the two sides but they were close and it was hoped all will be sorted by the following Monday. This announcement came after a call between Theresa May and Arlene Foster the leader of the DUP. This leads one to suspect that the rumour on Northern Ireland remaining in the single market and customs union was true. This was later all but confirmed by sources.
Come Tuesday, we get the SNP requesting that they would like the same deal for Scotland and, incredibly, the Liverpool council requesting the same. What next, separate governments for constituencies based upon how they voted. Crazy!
We then get a Downing Street spokesman saying: “We have been clear that the UK is leaving the single market and the customs union – we are leaving as a whole. We will not be jeopardising the UK’s own internal market.” So why wasn’t this said on Monday along with details of why agreement wasn’t reached.
To add to the confusion we have the many Labour views on the single market and customs union. So where do the key members of labour stand?
Keir Starmer (the Shadow Brexit Secretary): wants the government to keep Single Market membership on the table, but he wants to end freedom of movement.
John McDonnell (the Shadow Chancellor): wants to leave the Single Market
Tom Watson (the Deputy Leader): wants to stay in it.
Diane Abbott(the Shadow Home Secretary): wants to keep freedom of movement
Barry Gardiner (the Shadow Trade Secretary): thinks that staying the customs union would be a disaster, contrary to the views of many of his backbench colleagues.
Put simply, the Labour pond is very murky and while they are in this state they will find it difficult to hold the government to account.
Interestingly the Irish Border was not initially identified as a sticking point. However, this has now become a key point, all since Jeremy Corbyn visited Brussels to meet the EU leaders in October. Corbyn has stated that he very much backs a single Irish state. M
Then to everyone’s surprise on Friday morning it was announced that a deal had been agreed. A 7,200-word joint report from both side of the negotiations was issued detailing progress during phase one of the divorce deal. The following, thanks to the Guardian newspaper, summarises the key points:
- EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the rest of the EU have the right to stay. Rights of their children and those of partners in existing “durable relationships” are also guaranteed.
- UK courts will preside over enforcing rights over EU citizens in Britain but can refer unclear cases to the European court of justice for eight years after withdrawal.
- The agreement promises to ensure there will be no hard border and to uphold the Belfast agreement.
- It makes clear the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union.
- It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday agreement.
- However, the concession secured by the DUP is that no new regulatory barriers will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK without the permission of Stormont in the interest of upholding the Good Friday agreement.
- There is no figure on how much the UK is expected to pay but the document sets out how the bill will be calculated – expected to be about £50bn.
- The UK agrees to continue to pay into the EU budget as normal in 2019 and 2020.
- It also agrees to pay its liabilities such as pension contributions.
- The two sides agreed there would be need for cooperation on nuclear regulation and police and security issues.
- There was an agreement to ensure continued availability of products on the market before withdrawal and to minimise disruption for businesses and consumers.
So now on to phase two and this promises to be even more difficult. In phase two the two sides will need to:
- Agree the final divorce deal figure
- Reach agreement on the transition period and how it works, including how the UK will operate in relation to the single market and the customs union
- How current free trade deals with third nations are handled during the transition period
- Agree a trade deal between the UK and EU if possible
So we have only reached the beginning of the end. More murky water ahead.
I’m not a gambling man…….
……but here’s a tip. Put some money on Vladimir Putin to be the next Russian President.
Super-Vlad, as expected, has announced that he will seek a further term in office and will run for re-election in the March 2018 Russian presidential campaign. He appears confident that he will be re-elected and with only Kremlin backed token opposition who would bet against him.
Not so Pink
Pop star Pink has announced that she will be raising her child, daughter Willow, as gender neutral. Her reason for this is that she is “allowing her to make free choices that aren’t dictated by what society states women should or shouldn’t do.” I’m all for freedom of choice but why does she have to be raised gender neutral.
Clearly, as Willow is only six years old she needs a little help as can be seen in the picture opposite.
Meanwhile, Pink previously confessed she is worried about her children’s future and admits it will “break her heart” when Willow finds out the “kind of world she lives in”. She stated: “I have a six-year-old little girl who I’m raising, and the day she figures out what kind of world she lives in is going to be the day that breaks my heart. I don’t yet know how to have that conversation. I’m hoping somebody else makes a speech and teaches me before that day comes.”
Yep, another Snowflake who will wrap her gender neutral children in cotton wall and then blame society (or Trump) when they cannot cope in the real world.
Its also ironic that Alecia Beth Moore chose the nickname Pink which is a colour usually associated with females. Maybe she should change it to NGC (Non-specific Gender Colour) or maybe Grey.
And finally. Plans to hold a Conservative party dinner at the National Coal Mining Museum have been cancelled due to fears for the safety of staff. The Dewsbury County Conservative Association had booked the event for 10th March 2018, two days after the anniversary of the 1984-85 miners strike. Arguably not very tactful planning.
Campaigners, on the left of the political divide, said that the booking was insensitive to the former miners and families which industry they claim was decimated by the Conservative government. Interestingly Wilsons labour government closed 211 mines whereas Thatcher’s Conservatives closed 154. Maybe time for a re-think.
Stating that they need to maintain political independence, the National Coal Mining Museum had initially rejected calls to cancel the booking. However, after a number of groups across the country called for a picket line to be formed around the venue on the day of the dinner the event was cancelled.
In a statement, The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said it was pleased the dinner had been cancelled, adding opposition was “important in highlighting the insensitivity and provocative nature” of holding the dinner at the museum. Lets hope they do the same if the local Labour party request to hold a similar event.