brain death of UK, never mind NATO

EU Says Northern Ireland Must Keep Custom Checks Post-Brexit
Demond Cureton, Sputnik News, Feb 19 2020

Northern Ireland must comply apply European Union customs codes as well as standards in goods, EU advisor Stefaan De Rynck said on Wednesday. The comments were made just weeks after Britain left the EU on Jan 31, triggering a year-long transition period of fierce negotiations on trade and cooperation agreements. De Rynck made the comments at a speech at the London School of Economics, which aimed to discuss concerns over post-Brexit trade and finance. The chief advisor to EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, also said that trade talks would be tougher than negotiations that secured the UK’s divorce settlement, due to the broader scope of issues and deadline. EU officials had told the UK ‘well in advance’ that free trade deals would require London to uphold comittments to fair competition, he added. The EU “respects” that the UK government has said that Brexit meant “friction and the creation of non-tariff barriers to trade,” De Rynck said as reported by Sky News political correspondent Rob Powell, but added that Mr Barnier had said in prior comments that “if you leave the single market, there will be friction.”

The EU “precondition” of a robust level playing field guarantee was “no surprise,” as it had been addressed by the EU27 as early as Mar 2018, De Rynck said. Every FTA was tailored to the third country involved, he added, responding to comments from Downing Street tweeted on late Tuesday.

​The UK’s Brexit plans were a “source of concern” and that its “level of ambition” was not being met as stated in last year’s agreement, he added, citing a ministerial statement released earlier in February. De Rynck added that the closest possible security relationship would require work with the ECJ if EU concepts were to be used, including adherence to the ECHR. The UK’s decision to end freedom of movement in the country was no surprise, he said, adding:

Free movement has been a tremendous benefit for this country economically and culturally.

The news comes after Barnier said that the EU would “never, never, never” compromise on the integrity of the common market, adding that London would face the reality after ‘underestimating’ the costs of leaving the EU. The top EU Brexit chief made the comments at the Queen’s University in Belfast amid uncertainty over the Irish backstop, which would enforce physical custom checks at the border between the country and Republic of Ireland, Reuters reported in late January. He said at the time:

Leaving the single market, leaving the customs union will have consequences. And what I saw in the last year is that many of these consequences have been underestimated in the UK. Now we have to face the reality.

Further problems arose after Mr Barnier struck down any notion of a ‘Canada-style’ free trade agreement with Brussels, stating that the geographical proximities of a UK-EU free trade deal were “very particular” and could not work as with deals between the UK and South Korea or Japan. The comments were followed by London’s plans to bar non-English speaking migrants and unskilled overseas workers after Brexit, which the Cabinet Office arguing for further investment in automation and retaining current workforces, allowing Downing Street to keep campaign promises to reduce net immigration figures. The UK officially left the EU at 23:01 on Jan 31, with a deadline of Dec 31 to finalise any negotiations with Brussels and secure an FTA or risk entering a ‘no-deal’ scenario under WTO terms. Johnson said that he would deliver Brexit ‘come what may’ after snap elections in early December when UK Conservatives landed a further 80 seats in Commons.

Barnier rebuffs Frost over EU trade deal
Andrew Woodcock, Independent, Feb 18 2020

Michel Barnier has delivered a firm rebuff to Boris Johnson over claims that it would be “undemocratic” for Brussels to expect the UK to sign up to a “level playing-field” on rules and regulations in a future trade deal. The claim was made in a high-profile speech last night by the prime minister’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, who said that the ability for Britain to diverge from EU rules was the main point of withdrawal. Barnier said that agreement on common rules in areas like workplace rights and environmental protections was necessary to avoid unfair competitive advantages between businesses on opposite sides of the Channel. Brussels fears that the absence of shared regulations would result in the UK dumping cut-price goods produced to lower standards in its markets. He pointedly noted that Mr Johnson himself signed up to “robust” level playing-field arrangements in the political declaration agreed with Brussels only a few months ago. And he cast doubt on the prospect of the UK securing the Canada-style trade deal which the PM is seeking without a commitment of this kind, insisting that Britain’s geographical proximity to the remaining 27-nation bloc meant the two countries’ positions were not comparable. In a signal that Brussels is not ready to budge on the position agreed with the UK in October, Mr Barnier said:

We remain ready to work very quickly with the UK on the basis of the political declaration agreed with Boris Johnson just a few months ago. We remain ready to propose a partnership if the UK want it.

The impasse points towards a strictly limited trade deal, or no deal at all, when the transition period to Brexit ends in December, raising the prospect of tariffs and non-tariff barriers on UK exports to the continent. Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Mr Frost said that the UK was “not frightened” by the threat of greater trade friction.“ He said:

This isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure. It’s the point of the whole project. Any attempt to force Britain to comply with Brussels regulations would be unsustainable. At some point, democratic consent would snap dramatically and finally.

But Mr Barnier said that the level playing field demand was “truly not” undemocratic, telling reporters in Brussels:

It is a sovereign decision of the UK and the EU to put in certain subjects their rules, their norms, in cooperation with each other. It is a sovereign decision of the EU. It is a sovereign decision of the UK to co-operate. In last October’s political declaration document, Mr Johnson agreed to pursue a future relationship ensuring open and fair competition, encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field. It is formally written in the political declaration to prevent that distortion of competition, unfair competitive advantages. That is what Boris Johnson wrote in the political declaration. I am looking for a means calmly and seriously to translate into legal form the political commitments made with the UK, not without it.

The EU remains ready to seek an “ambitious partnership” with Britain, but its “particular and unique geographical proximity” means that any deal cannot be directly compared with those struck with Canada, South Korea or Japan, he said.

EU wages ‘slide wars’ against UK to convince Boris Johnson it will not back down in trade deal row
Rob Merrick, Independent, Feb 19 2020

The EU is waging ‘slide wars’ against the UK to convince Boris Johnson it will refuse a tariff-free trade deal if he insists on the right to break its rules. A graph sets out why the UK, a powerful economy on its doorstep, will not be allowed to wriggle out of past commitments not required of Canada, South Korea, Japan and other distant countries. It shows how about 13% of EU trade is with the UK, while just 2% or less is with countries many thousands of km away that enjoy favourable agreements with Brussels. What was widely-dubbed ‘slide wars’ is a riposte to the inflammatory speech by David Frost, the prime minister’s EU adviser, insisting democracy will “snap” unless the UK can set its own regulations. The stance puts the UK on course to crash out of the transition period at the end of 2020 with no trade deal, risking huge economic damage, unless one side gives ground. An aide to Michel Barnier, Brussels’ chief negotiator, again insisted it would not budge from maintaining “level playing field” on state subsidies, environmental protections and workers’ rights. Speaking in London, Stefaan De Rynck warned:

It’s clear that for us it’s a different ball game that we are playing with the UK to the one that we agreed with Canada in terms of the level playing-field. Some in the UK now seem to want to become Canadians, but Dover is much closer to Calais than Ottawa is. Proximity matters, distance matters in trade. What also matters is the interconnectedness between our economies. So, in terms of zero tariff, zero quota access, this brings a lot of benefits to the UK economy and with benefits come obligations.

The EU hit back after No 10 issued what was widely seen as a misleading claim about a 2017 EU slide, warning Theresa May she was heading towards a hard Brexit Canada-style deal she opposed. The official Downing Street account tweeted:

Now they say it’s not on offer after all. What’s changed?

Mrs May’s former chief of staff, backed the EU, saying:

Nothing has changed. The EU has always said an FTA with the UK would need greater level playing-field provisions.

He pointed to paragraph 77 of the political declaration signed by Mr Johnson last autumn, which pledged to “uphold the common high standards” for state aid and regulatory standards. The clash came as the EU further toughened its conditions for a tariff-free deal, on both regulatory alignment and access to UK fishing waters. A draft mandate discussed by EU ambassadors says any agreement must “stand the test of time,” suggesting Brussels will push for the UK to sign up to its future regulations. It also makes clear a deal should “uphold” EU fishermen’s current rights in UK waters, a problem for the UK government, which has promised to reclaim fishing rights.

‘Racist’ is not a word that should be used lightly, but it is absolutely correct when applied to Boris Johnson
Tom Peck, Independent, Feb 18 2020

It is, in its way, unfortunate that the term “racist” is so very blunt. It is a word of tremendous force and width. “Racist” begins its journey somewhere around the BBC Parliament caption writer accidentally miscaptioning black MPs with each others’ names, and rides all the way up to and beyond the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Partly, that explains its popularity. There is nothing worse a person can be than a racist. To call someone a racist leaves a thrillingly salty taste in the mouth. If a political opponent or public figure can be found to have made some poorly phrased comments at some point in the fairly distant past, they can be bludgeoned with the “R” word, and dragged by association, and with thrilling potency, to the very extreme end of its scale. So when the rapper, Dave, reaching the conclusion of a stunning performance at the Brit awards, drops his pre-planned bomb, and says “the prime minister’s a real racist,” the instant response of whoops of delight from the crowd speak to the thrill of the attack: the severity of the crime of which the prime minister has been accused. But the use of the word also offers a way out. It is no surprise that it should take only seconds for those on the other side to say that of course Johnson is not a racist. The guys who killed Stephen Lawrence. They were racist. It’s just some old newspaper columns.

If you actually READ the column about Muslim women looking like bankrobbers and letterboxes, you’ll see it was a DEFENCE of liberalism.

Yes, yes of course it was. And, if you actually read my absolutely glowing review of my local curry house, you’ll see there are scarcely any more than two very light-hearted jokes about the waiting staff, and they still kicked me off TripAdvisor. The world’s gone mad. Is Boris Johnson a racist? Has he actively discriminated against people of colour throughout the course of his life? Probably not. But has he contributed to the suffering and the general hardness of life on non-white people living in Britain? Absolutely yes. Without any shadow of a doubt. Is it boring to have to bring up again, the columns about African children looking like “flag-waving piccaninnies?” About “watermelon smiles”? About even more egregious examples than that, calling a group of Ugandan children who once sang for him at a ceremony in Uganda as “aids-ridden choristers”? That the quotes haven’t died is that the new prime minister has declined two decades worth of opportunities to apologise for them. Is Dominic Cummings a racist? Does he consider non-white people to be inferior? Almost certainly not, even after this week’s hideous descent into the world of eugenics. But he certainly had no problem producing Islamophobic lies about “the UK’s “new border is now with Syria and Iraq” during the 2016 referendum. Providing Islamophobes with the Islamophobic lies they needed to vote for Brexit was a core strategy of the Vote Leave campaign. Is that racist? Yes, it absolutely is.

It is also a somewhat delicious irony that, on stage at the Brit awards, the rapper Tyler, The Creator, should be thanking Theresa May for preventing him from coming to the country five years ago, a matter of minutes before the government was about to launch its new salary-linked immigration scheme. By way of background: in 2015 Theresa May used anti-terror legislation to prevent Tyler, The Creator from performing at Reading and Leeds festival, on the grounds that his music “encourages violence and intolerance of homosexuality.” He has since made the point the songs in question were written from the point of an alter ego. That they were, you know, artistic works. No one has, as yet, banned James Bond movies because of the remarkable tendency of people within them to seek to blow up the world. Still, Tyler has made it now so evidently the laws have been relaxed. And as Theresa May herself is now out on the public speaking circuit, we can only assume she is also ascribing her edgy early work, you know, the “citizens of nowhere” stuff to some sort of Theresa May act that she, Theresa May, was working on at the time. Only trouble is, the old Theresa May, the actual prime minister one, was making a lot less money than the new one. And as Lorraine Kelly’s accountant will tell you, if you’re going to start claiming that you spend half your life doing a slightly tweaked impression of yourself, it makes much more financial sense if the fictional you is the higher earner. Poor May, cursed again.

All of which leaves us precious little time to consider the government’s new, “Australian points-based immigration system,” other than to point out it is nothing like the Australian one, which actually increases immigration, and isn’t points-based at all, other than that you gain or lose points based on how much money you earn. But an Australian style points-based immigration system is what the voters want, so it’s what we’re getting. It will mean that high-skilled, high earning, doctors and scientists and so on will be able to come to the UK, but it will spell, we are told, “the end of unskilled cheap labour.” Because when the native population makes it clear at the ballot box not once but twice that they’ve had enough of immigrants, what they obviously want is for the skilled jobs still to be taken by immigrants, but the unskilled, poorly paid ones to be saved for them. They’ve had enough of them all, coming over here, cooking our food, waiting our tables, cleaning our houses. It’s time those jobs were given back to their rightful owners, the British. From now on, the immigrants will have to know their place, which is flying our planes, running our universities, performing our complex surgical operations, and headlining our music festivals. That’s what taking back control was always about. And anyone that tries to tell you otherwise, ignore them. They just think you’re a racist.

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