A collection of six short, independent pieces on various topics, with links to many related posts.
Friends Like These
After two years of zero concessions by its negotiators we can justifiably say of the EU Commission, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” We think they are driven by outrage that anyone would want to leave their blessed Project, fear of finding a successful competitor just off-shore and eagerness to dissuade other countries from following suit. M. Barnier says the UK must also lose access to the European arrest warrant and that UK representatives would no longer have a role in managing agencies such as Europol and Eurojust.
MI5 Director, Andrew Parker, says there have been 45 terrorist attacks across Europe in the last two years and Jeremy Fleming, the head of GCHQ, warned the EU that our agencies helped avoid four terrorist attacks in Europe last year so if they rule out security cooperation EU citizens would be endangered.
Barnier didn’t rule out cooperation but insisted that a new, separate agreement needed to be negotiated. Why would he want a separate agreement? Presumably because allowing an exception implies other exceptions are also possible. There could be a flood of them – flights, satellites, police, and so on – but the ‘integrity’ of the EU would be undermined if these were permitted. However, he clearly wants to get intelligence or other help from the UK but in another way.
So why not do all the other things in another way? When it suits our ‘friends’ in the Commission they will compromise; if they see an opportunity to screw us they will. They aren’t friends, they’re nasty adversaries as Remainers should have noticed by now. This doesn’t just apply to the Commission alone.
EU Dividends or Divisions?
There has been no proven ‘peace dividend’: it is unlikely that the EU has helped and has recently been a cause of increased divisiveness within and between its nations. 
There has been no proven ‘growth dividend’: the EU has slowed since its post-war rebound ended, shortly after the UK joined, even falling behind the UK on average and well behind comparable nations and trade groups. 
There has been no improvement in human rights or other legal arrangements: in fact it has undermined common law and judicial independence despite English law being more highly regarded in the wider world. 
There has been no improvement in security, defence or science research that required such a heavyweight, overbearing structure: many European collaborations are not EU creations and neither do they need to be (CERN, The Council of Europe, EHCR, ESA, and others). 
You might think that it would seek to protect its citizens from harm by prioritising their security. If so, why would its Commission seek to exclude Europe’s foremost anti-terror, intelligence agencies?
There has been significant loss of democratic accountability, distancing the EU’s masters from its citizens and leading to dangerous currents of discontent that have troubled Europe before, and will continue to do so. 
Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland, has lectured Britain about how small it is at 60 million people compared to the united 27 European countries of 400 million, so we’d better surrender. This pipsqueak demonstrates his point very well by belittling us with 26 other bullies standing behind him. Except they are increasingly disunited on several key elements of Union and some are beginning to doubt that this bullying is the best strategy for their own people.
While Enda Kenny, Varadkar’s predecessor, attempted to be helpful in finding a solution to the border issues, Leo (otherwise known as ‘Gob Almighty’) is attempting to be the EU Commission’s lion. He should consider the dangers he is risking by siding with Republicans. He is also taking sides against a friendly country in the belief that his even smaller nation can rely on the continued backing of the real Continental beasts. Leo, they don’t care unless it suits their goals. Soon they will threaten your nation’s prosperity by imposing uniform taxes that will remove the competitive advantage Ireland has been enjoying.
Whereas the EU has never benefited the UK much, if at all  it may have been the spur that pulled Eire from a poor agricultural economy to an advanced and prosperous one. It provided subsidies, though Ireland now pays its share, and new markets. But Ireland also helped itself by creating a competitive tax environment, amongst other things. That is certain not to last under EU goals, whereas a close collaboration with the UK could be a better bet in the longer term, odds good enough to be worth staying on excellent terms at least.
To misquote Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, sometimes ‘politics is war by other means‘.
The EU emerged from a Franco-German plan to prevent war between them happening yet again, after three goes within 70 years, hence the original Coal and Steel treaty to jointly hold the fundamental materials of war. It has been the axis of power ever since, largely designed by French civil servants to their advantage (the CAP in particular) while matching that with German manufacturing advantages. Indeed it is likely that De Gaulle’s “Non!” to British requests to join was to ensure there would be no veto until the CAP was in place (it was muted in the 1957 treaty but implemented later).
Since Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) was agreed at Maastrict the only effective vetoes seem to be Germany’s, although there are still some areas where national vetoes can be used as the Italians recently threatened. We don’t really understand why the Germans are quite so overwhelmingly powerful, despite being the largest budget contributors, but they seem to be in charge of the ECB. Their hegemony is being challenged increasingly however. 
Germany, whilst it sucks the life out of half the EU’s members with its mercantilist policies, perhaps likes to fool itself that it is building a community of equals by showing others the proper way to a prosperous future – the German way. It destroys others so that they learn hard lessons and have a better model to follow when they start to rebuild.
Nine nations, including Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain and Portugal, have signed up to the so-called European Intervention Initiative (EII) – a coalition of willing states prepared to react to crises near Europe’s borders without help from NATO or the United States.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed the opportunity to involve Britain in the force.
But she also stressed that the EU’s existing defence pact and any “common military strategy” are “closely related”, which will stoke Brexiteer fears that the force could involve Britain in a European army by the back door.
You might think that the leader of a country that refuses to pull its military weight would at least shut up but the bossy attitude can’t be contained. Some EU members are more equal than others. 
Briefly the Cabinet agreed with itself and those who said the Chequers deal would mean we’re not really leaving the EU at all are wrong. We’ve triggered Article 50 so goodbye Brussels, our PM won’t be wasting her time in all those Council meetings. She can let others make the decisions for her and get on with making all the important decisions she needs to make here, such as … er, well we’re sure she’ll tell us when she has more time. We can stop arguing about those thousands of essential regulations and get on with the job of implementing them.
We may have to collect a few euros in duties on behalf of the rest who still have to do all this stuff but otherwise we’ll be free. Free of the bother of running very much and so free to sleep, perhaps to dream of what we lost by leaving or might have gained via a different exit. Oh, and we won’t have to fiddle about, keeping on paying those “vast sums” Theresa mentioned, we can make one big lump-sum payment up front with no further accounting worries. There will be smaller sums to pay but we can probably arrange those by direct debit.
With these great simplifications we won’t need British citizens sitting in Brussels, getting up and moving to seats in Strasbourg, then returning to Brussels with all their office stuff only to have to do it all again – utterly tedious but we have many friends willing to do it on our behalf, although of course we’ll have to pay our share for their time and expenses.
Our judges can relax and just pass the difficult verdicts ‘upstairs’ to the ECJ, their gavels can have rubber stamps on their two faces. Law students won’t have to spend as much time studying case law as it has evolved, a brief history of Roman and Napoleonic codes will suffice. They can have shorter courses, another saving of time and money, or maybe retrain to help companies deal with regulations, a field where there is likely to be an increasing shortage of expertise.
Negotiating With a Big Stick
Trump Trade or Free Trade, what’s the difference? Trump threatens extreme protectionism, now he’s talking totally tariff-free trade and no regulation barriers with the EU. The EU sees itself as a heavyweight contender but gets knocked down in the first round. Compare that with May, she threatens free trade, now she’s talking about accepting rules, regulations and external tariffs. May sees the UK as a lightweight and no match for the bully next door.
The French foreign minister says a no-deal Brexit will hit both sides but the UK will suffer more because it is relatively smaller. This is true but misleading, the EU may suffer less per capita but the effects will not be spread evenly and some in the EU will suffer very much, quite possibly enough to cause a recession that affects the majority. This seems not to matter to the leaders and technocrats who have demonstrated their imperturbability in the face of distress across half the Continent but it could further the support for populism, as Ian Kearns has explained in his book ‘Collapse’ .
Many full-length pictures of Theresa May standing show her stooped posture, even the Irish leprechaun, Varadkar, can spit in her face. Stand up, shoulders back and lets show them what we’re made of.
 Brexit Lexicon