Last night's exit polls came as a shock, the scale of both the Conservative and SNP seat predictions almost beyond belief. The cold hard reality of the morning after has brought little comfort. Remainers must be commended for fighting to the end, but the good fight is now lost. The roller-coaster has crested the summit, and Boris Johnson's Brexit is now inevitable. If this truly was the Brexit Election, then the electorate have given their verdict. Continue reading...
The Overton Conveyor
Events appear to be moving simultaneously at glacial speed, but also faster than it is possible to keep up with. It might then be useful to separate the two classes of event. In the glacial category: negotiations. In the whirlwind category: everything else. It is precisely because negotiations are going nowhere that all the pent-up energy of politics is being diverted elsewhere, like a blocked pipe springing leaks at every joint. The unstoppable force of Brexit meets the immovable object of political reality, and all else is laid waste. Continue reading...
Handbagging results in diminishing returns - Thatcher achieved a rollback in the form of the rebate, while Major and his successors achieved merely a standstill in the form of opt-outs. David Cameron's attempt to negotiate an even more favourable deal from the EU, one that had eluded both Thatcher and Major, was an exercise in milking the dry cow. Who now remembers the meagre drops that he extracted? Continue reading...
Biscuits and gravy
We have all heard the aphorism that Britain and America are two great nations divided by a common language. Gas, fall, biscuits, fanny packs. When we hear the accent we automatically run the words through the universal translator, and then hold them up to ridicule as appropriate. But we often forget that even though the Irish and the British are linguistically closer to each other than to their transatlantic cousins, there are still entries in the dictionary, particularly in the ethnopolitical section, that remain false friends. Continue reading...
Squaring the backstop circle
Complaints that the UK has resiled on its commitments are somewhat overblown. In most democracies, a deal is not a deal until it has been ratified, and the UK Parliament reserves the right to overrule the executive. The real problem is that, nearly three years after the referendum, Parliament still has no idea what price it is willing to pay for the thing that it never really wanted. The furore over the backstop is merely a symptom of this contradiction. Continue reading...
We assumed the EU’s enemies were all internal. We were wrong.
There seem to be two main narratives of the Ukrainian conflict doing the rounds in the Western media. On one extreme is the thesis that Putin is determined on expanding Russian territory. On the other, his actions are a logical and understandable response to the reckless expansion of NATO. Neither of these is quite true.… Continue reading We assumed the EU’s enemies were all internal. We were wrong.
The Charter of Statehood
States tend to operate on the assumption that they are eternal - so they don't normally have exit clauses - and can be neurotic about their territorial integrity. The debate over Scottish independence, and its future relations with the EU, has demonstrated once again that an agreed mechanism is required to gently manage the death… Continue reading The Charter of Statehood
Roof falls in, part 2
I love Chris Davies's idea, reported here, that the EU parliament should hold all 12 of its yearly diet of Strasbourg plenaries on one day. That's the kind of creative political thinking that will end this farce. I've just signed the petition at oneseat.eu
Roof falls in on European Parliament – The Irish Times – Wed, Aug 20, 2008
If only this could happen every month... Roof falls in on European Parliament - The Irish Times - Wed, Aug 20, 2008
After Lisbon – a heretical view
So Ireland voted no. May I make some humble suggestions to the great and good: Take it like a man. I'm talking to you, Barroso. I don't know what you wanted to achieve by claiming the treaty was still alive, but all you did was prove the No campaign's point for them. Don't panic. There's… Continue reading After Lisbon – a heretical view