Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

An independent Scotland could probably not join the EU until 2030

June 25, 2016

Scotland’s desire to remain a part of the EU is not so easily satisfied even if a new independence referendum is carried out rapidly. Three different timetables (which can partly be in parallel) have to mesh.

  1. Exit process for UK from EU
  2. Independence process for Scotland from the UK
  3.  Application and accession process for an independant Scotland into the EU.

Looking at these 3 timetables, I reckon the earliest an independent Scotland could enter the EU in its own right would be around 2030.

Brexit now sets in motion an exit process for the UK from the EU. The only deadline is that the process will be completed 2 years after the UK invokes Article 50. However it is up to the UK to invoke Article 50. So the start point is flexible and is solely in the control of the UK government of the day. Even if Cameron is replaced by another Prime Minister, it will be up to his new government and the UK parliament to decide when they are comfortable enough to start the ball rolling (because then the 2 year deadline will apply). There is no reason for the UK to give up too early its current time pressure advantage which will pass to the EU once Article 50 has been invoked. I see the earliest that a UK government is prepared for this will be around March 2017. That would give an exit being effective in March 2019.

March 2017 is probably the earliest a new referendum on the independence of Scotland could be held. Using the timetable put forward by the SNP for the 2014 referendum, it would then be March 2019 before Scotland was an independent nation. This may be a little too optimistic both for when the referendum could be held and for the time required for the legal measures necessary. Whether the UK parliament could be handling the bills necessary for exiting the EU simultaneously with passing the bills for Scotland’s exit from the UK is also doubtful. Nevertheless I assume a referendum could be held by March 2017.

To apply for EU membership, Scotland would need to have, and be able to show, a “stable” economy and stable, established institutions. With the best will in the world, this is going to require at least 3 years (and probably more) as an independent nation. Assume anyway that Scotland can submit an application for membership sometime around 2022/2023. The minimum time needed for accession of a new member has been the 3 years for Finland and Sweden. It is more usually of the order of 10 years with countries with weaker economies taking longer. It is not unreasonable to assume that a newly independent Scotland would need 7 years for accession.

Accession times to the European Union (pdf)

And that would take us to 2030 for an independent Scotland’s accession to the EU.


Whiskyland after Brexit

June 25, 2016

Whiskyland within the EU and Wengland out.

It could get really painful if whisky is going to cost as much in Wengland as in – say – Sweden!

More Scotch whiskey is consumed in a month than cognac in a year.

Scotch Whisky adds £3.3 billion directly and its total impact is to add nearly £5bn overall to UK GDP. Every £1 of value added in the industry produces another £0.52 of value in the broader economy.  The industry is the UK’s largest single food and drink sector. It accounts for 25% of the UK’s food and drink exports.

In value added Scotch Whisky is bigger than the UK’s iron/steel, textiles, shipbuilding, or computer industries; about half the size of the UK’s pharmaceuticals or aerospace industries; and one third the size of the entire UK car industry.


Wengland and Whiskyland after Brexit


EU bureaucrats, but not the elected politicians, are in denial

June 24, 2016

Listening to the European bureaucrats reacting to Brexit today, it was very quickly obvious as to why euroscepticism has never been as high and as widespread in Europe as today. Every bureaucrat, who by definition is part of the EU gravy train, was angry and wanted the UK out as soon as possible. Not one, not Jean-Claude Juncker, not Martin Schulz, not Donald Tusk did not but want to punish the UK for the poll result. Juncker would not even address the question of euroscepticism within member countries. What he does not want to see, it seems, does not exist. He does not see that it is the form and manner of the EU itself which fuels the desire of many to leave.

3 monkeys

They are the non-elected, spoiled and pampered bureaucrats of Europe who have gotten used to the idea of issuing European Directives, for all EU members to follow and overruling any objections from national parliaments. The elected politicians from Germany and France were a little more circumspect in their statements. The arrogance and self-righteousness on display today was as clear a symptom of the European malaise as could be imagined. They had no conception of the contempt in which they are held by so many in Europe.

I have no doubt that the UK can manage without being a member of the inner circle of the EU. Of course the UK will need to negotiate a good trade agreement with the EU but there is no reason why this should not be possible – in spite of the EU bureaucrats. Angela Merkel indicated today that some form of EU association with the UK would not be unthinkable. The bureaucrats, of course, dislike this because it may give heretical ideas to the eurosceptics in other countries. It is a myth to think that trade with the US or China or Latin America is enhanced greatly by being a member of the EU. I have no doubt, for example and from my own experience, that the UK can do more business in Africa or in India from outside the EU. There are trading opportunities in a Brexit – but it will need some skill to seize them.

But the one thing that struck me today was that for the survival of the EU in some sustainable form, the EU bureaucrats need to be reigned in by their own politicians from the member countries. Here I mean by the politicians in their own governments and parliaments and not the utterly useless MEPs in the even more pointless European Parliament. The EU bureaucracy has become parasitical. The self-serving and blinkered behaviour of the bureaucrats keeps them completely out of touch with how deep euroscepticism actually runs. Their denial of reality is the single factor which is most likely to lead to the break-up of the EU.



June 24, 2016


A leave could take around 3 years.

A new dawn? for the EU?

Clear win for BREXIT (but a win for remain in Scotland).

Cameron thought he knew how to use referenda as a tool of government. But he got virtually no concessions from the EU and his strategy has backfired. Now we will see whether David Cameron is a leader or just another follower. I think his position is untenable — except if he can get real concessions and call yet another referendum.

It is time to dismantle the Brussels machine and the first step shoud be to abolish the European parliament.


Markets assume that BREXIT chances died with Jo Cox

June 20, 2016

The markets are all up sharply today. It seems as if the murder of MP Jo Cox has put paid to the small chance of a BREXIT win and that the financial industry is now assuming that any BREXIT will not happen. It is not just the FTSE but markets all across Europe which are showing gains of 2 – 3+%. Even in japan and Hong Kong, markets are buoyed by the apparent risk of a BREXIT receding. Gold is down by about 1%.

markets 20th June 2016 c1300 -- Reuters

markets 20th June 2016 c1300 — Reuters

The relief in the markets is palpable.

Of course, there is still a faint possibility that BREXIT could win, but elections, like markets, depend upon mood.  There is plenty of anti-EU sentiment which will not go away so easily. But the dominant mood now, I think, is that Jo Cox’s murderer cannot be seen to have won. For the markets, better the blundering and fumbling EU and the ECB than the uncertainty of a BREXIT.

BREXIT died with Jo Cox.


UK likely to vote to remain but fundamental flaws in the EU concept are now exposed

June 20, 2016

I see the BREXIT vote as an opportunity to correct the glaring flaws in the EU concept of a Holy European Empire. Whether BREXIT wins or not in this vote, the EU will no longer be able to just ignore the disconnect between the concept and the bulk of the voters/tax payers in the EU. Of course if BREXIT does not win, it will slow down the inevitable reforms that the EU must introduce.

I suspect that finally the fear of leaving will govern and that BREXIT will lose by a small margin. The EU politicians and bureaucrats will probably tout this as a win for the EU concept but, in fact, they will have to prepare for drawing back the various EU encroachments into the territory of national sovereignty.


There is no argument that the European Union is a flawed institution. Its dysfunction has been on display in its fitful handling of the Greek debt and refugee crises, its bureaucracy is pathetically slow to recognize or correct its failings and it often acts like an out-of-touch and undemocratic elite. Part of that is the inherent inefficiency of an institution of 28 member states with big differences in size, wealth and democratic traditions, and which participate to different degrees in the single currency and border-free zone.

Yet the E.U. is an extraordinary achievement, a voluntary union of nations whose histories include some of the bloodiest wars ever waged. However flawed the bloc, it has replaced blood feuds with a single market, shared values, free travel and labor mobility. Britain has always been something of an outlier in the E.U., joining what began as the European Coal and Steel Community two decades after it was formed and declining to participate in either the euro currency or the borderless Schengen zone. Yet there is no question that Britain has benefited from membership, both economically and as a strong voice in shaping E.U. policy.

The euroskepticism that has led to the British referendum, and that forms a strong component of the right-wing nationalist parties on the rise in many European countries, is not about efficiency or history. It is about ill-defined frustration with the complexities of a changing world and a changing Europe, a loss of faith in mainstream politicians and experts, a nostalgia for a past when nations decided their own fates and kept foreigners out. To those who hold these views, the European Union is the epitome of all that has gone wrong, an alien bureaucracy deaf to the traditions and values of its members. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trump and the French politician Marine Le Pen both favor Brexit.

I see parallels in the “anti-establishment” views embodied in euroscepticism and in the “anti-establishment” views of the Trump supporters in the US. In both cases the revolt is a reaction to what is perceived as the over-weening arrogance of a political, liberal, elite who insist on defining political correctness and on telling the electorate that they know best what is good for them.

In 2016, both in the EU and in the US, it is immigration and the flawed concept of multiculturalism which is dominating. It is occupying this ground which may well determine many of the elections. In fact the rise of the right-wing nationalists in Europe is the pendulum swinging back from 3 decades of self-righteous, social democratic dogma. Europe has moved further left in the 3 decades after communism fell than while communism was still an acceptable philosophy. But I note that some of the right-wing parties (Sweden, Denmark, France …. ) are losing some support as more of the centrist parties adopt more restrictive measures on immigration and take away this ground from the right. Take Trump’s immigration ground away from him and he will not stand a chance.

The EU cannot change geography , but they can change their rules

June 11, 2016

The geographical reality of the UK being part of the continent of Europe will not change with Brexit. Europe will not disappear even if the EU does.

The European Union is a somewhat artificial, and now also very sick, association. The EU as it is today “is a misassembled, headless monster, owing less to Charlemagne than to Frankenstein.” Economically the EU has become the sick man of the global economy. It is a club which needs to revise its reason for being. It has to move away from grandiose dreams of creating a new Holy European Empire and its rules need urgently to change. The European Parliament is a useless appendage and needs to be abolished. It is the most wasteful and non-democratic parliament ever. The European Court of Human Rights has done more than most institutions to demonstrate that the EU (not human rights) is an ass. The European Commission is a self-righteous, self-serving, profligate bureaucracy which dwarfs Roman bureaucracy. It may have been intended to be a disseminator of best practices, but has become instead the propogator of scams designed to milk EU subsidies. The Euro is a failed experiment.

With less than two weeks to go for the UK referendum, it is worth remembering that the vote itself is just the start of a long 2-3 year process. It can be stopped by the UK parliament at any time (though at the cost of a government and a few politicians). A NO vote would galvanise similar sentiments in Holland and Denmark and even some of the newer members. I am convinced that it is the shock necessary for the EU to confront its existential problem and tone down its political aims and focus on its trdaing and economic aims. The free movement of genuine labour has to be tempered to exclude the free movement of the scavengers. The European Commission has to be decimated and drawn back from its intrusion into what are local, national matters.

My desired scenario is that a NO vote in the referendum will give the EU the biggest shock it has had since its inception. Minds will then be sufficiently concentrated to really think about reforms and to be more than the cosmetic sops so far offered to David Cameron. The rush to reform (led by Germany, France and Italy) will be real and announced well before any ratification vote (probably in about 6 -12 months) in the UK parliament. And then the UK parliament can overrule the BREXIT referendum and have that ratified by a General Election.

Just wishful thinking on my part. But I see a glorious future possible for Europe. But not for the Europe of the European Union.

Frank Jacobs wrote in his piece “Where is Europe” in the NYT:

…… This “Europe” is a misassembled, headless monster, owing less to Charlemagne than to Frankenstein. It stalks the bureaucratic labyrinth of Brussels, beying for tribute from the peoples of Europe. But this modern minotaur is also a petty, powerless bureaucrat, issuing directives on the correct curvature of cucumbers, but unable to save the euro from collapsing. …

…… most of Europe’s borders are self-evident. They are the waters that border it on three sides: the Arctic Sea to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean and Black Seas to the south. Ah, but then the ultimate problem becomes painfully clear: Where to draw Europe’s eastern border? And does it even have one?

Let’s return to our earlier definition: A continent is a large, contiguous land mass. And not half of one. Many geographers see what we call the European continent as a mere peninsula of a gigantic continent of Eurasia, spanning halfway across the world, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Bering Strait. There is no good reason to divide that continent in two. No good geographic reason. …..

Europe as she should be

Europe as she should be

Europe is not a continental mass in itself. It is just the western end of the Eurasian continental plate. The Eurovision song (?) contest may – in its inanity – include Israel and Turkey and Azerbaijan and Australia but whatever definition of Europe finally evolves it should not include Turkey and cannot include Ukraine or Belarus. That the definition must encompass Switzerland and Iceland – and the UK – is self-evident.


Arrogant EU warning to Poland provides BREXIT with a proof

June 1, 2016

That the European Union does take away national sovereignty is obvious even if David Cameron may argue (now) that it doesn’t. Even though I think that we must eventually evolve away from nation states, the EU is not a development in that direction. It involves surrendering autonomy – away from the “nation” to the faceless, supercilious, self-righteous, European Commission and the European parliament. Poland may be pursuing policies that its EU members disapprove of, but surely that is Poland’s prerogative.

BREXIT supporters have a clear example of how the EU fancies itself a super-state and one which thinks it has the right – if not necessarily the power – to dictate to its members how to think. Like it or not, the Justice Party was elected “democratically” in Poland. The European Commission is far from being any kind of democratic institution. It is an executive body. There is something deeply disturbing about EU bureaucrats telling an elected government what it may or may not do. The self-righteous arrogance of the European Commission is often offensive.

The Guardian: 

The EU executive has given Poland an official warning that changes to its constitutional court endanger the rule of law in the country.

Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European commission, said he had written to the Polish government warning that recent alterations to the workings of Poland’s highest court posed “a systemic risk to the rule of law”.

The publication of a formal opinion ratchets up pressure on Poland and marks the first time that the EU executive has criticised a member state under its rule-of-law procedure.

After Poland’s Law and Justice (Pis) party came to power, the Polish parliament passed a law allowing the government to appoint the judges of its choosing to the highest court and not recognise those chosen by its predecessor, the liberal Civic Platform party.

Legal experts advising the Council of Europe have concluded that the changes breach the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

If Poland refuses to back down, it could face the ultimate sanction of being stripped of EU voting rights, although Brussels is keen to avoid that scenario.

I am not sure if BREXIT is good or bad for the UK, but there should be little doubt that staying within the EU does mean giving up a large measure of sovereignty. It is surely better for the EU that the UK remain a member. But the best for both the UK and the EU, I think, is for reform of the EU. I remain convinced that a vote in favour of BREXIT vote will only cause the EU to finally make real concessions rather than the cosmetic changes offered to Cameron. A BREXIT vote is – after all – only the start of a long negotiation. But the negotiation could be real and not just a PR exercise. Of course the UK would need a real negotiator – and that isn’t either Cameron or Corbyn.


Brexit has lost – but so has Cameron

May 25, 2016

The UK will most likely vote to remain in the EU, much to the EU’s relief. The fear of being an outsider in Europe will likely be stronger than the fear of surrendering sovereignty and law-making powers to Brussels. This referendum will not be the catalyst for change that the flawed EU concept desperately needs. Instead of using the referendum as a weapon, Cameron has not had the courage to confront the ideologues and has missed his opportunity to be the Great Reformer. He has used the referendum weapon more for domestic purposes than for pressuring the EU.

But the cracks in the flawed Franco-German vision of the Holy European Empire will remain. In fact, the cracks will only get wider. While the centre (Brussels) tries to expand by bringing in new countries, the countries at the eastern border will take their own line. The strains on the Euro will grow greater as Brussels expansionism brings in countries with weaker economies. The Euro zone, far from being a homogeneous region of uniform economic strength, will be in constant crises and bailouts. The conflict between the free movement of wealth creators (labour) and the free movement of wealth consumers (welfare tourists) will remain as long as the huge variation in economic conditions across Europe remain.

There will be a tug-of war between the expansionists and the likes of Poland and Hungary and Austria when it comes to accepting Muslim countries (Bosnia and Turkey primarily). Kosovo is also such a country but is not yet fully recognised as a country.

Cameron has missed his chance to roll back some of the excesses in Europe. The European Parliament has become the most useless and least democratic parliament in the world. And the European Commission, rather than being a disseminator of best practices, has become a body where the lowest common standard applies.

Of course, the UK needs to stay in the EU – for both the good of the UK and of the EU. But the EU needs to be drastically thinned down and vigorously cleaned up. Common sense has to return and replace the orthodoxy of the Holy European Empire.

EU colonial expansion

EU colonial expansion


Corbyn’s Labour party “is not anti-semitic”, except when needed for class war

April 29, 2016

During the early days of the labour movement and the growth of industrial Europe, it was not only the right-wing view that Jews were grasping trades-people to be looked down upon which fuelled anti-semitism. In the beginning of the 20th century, Jews were identified with banking and finance and epitomised the Great Enemy in the class struggle against capitalists. A strong strain of anti-semitism was nurtured within the hard-left as being an integral part of the class-war.

The hard-left (the loony left) core at the heart of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party still believe that capitalism is the religion of the Jews and they are all fundamentally and ideologically anti-semitic. That group traces its history of Jew-hating to the rise of capitalism and long before the creation of Israel. After the First World War, the anti-semitism that was part of the class-war became associated also with a racial opposition to Jews. The hard-left version of UK anti-semitism thus shares the same roots of Jew-hating as that which fired up the National Socialists in Germany and which was exploited by Hitler. After the Holocaust and WW 2, anti-semitism was politically incorrect everywhere. The collective European guilt allowed – and encouraged – the robbing of the Palestinians and the creation of Israel. It was only 2 generations later – and since the 1980s – that the new strain of anti-Israel, pro-Palestine anti-semitism could grow. This strain of the disease is automatically carried by any Muslim who supports Palestine or Palestinians. In recent times the hard-core, loony left in the UK have found it convenient to cloak their own anti-semitism, which originates from class-war roots, under the guise of being pro-Palestine and in support of all things Palestinian.

Nowadays the UK Labour party contains many Muslim (mainly of Asian origin) members. A large section of these newer members (though not all) have little knowledge of the rise of the labour movement and the identification of all Jews with the Great Enemy – Capitalism. These members trace their antisemitism to their support of Palestine and the consequent opposition to anything Israeli (including the Jewish population of Israel). They are engaged in a religious war – not a class war. The UK Labour party contains many anti-semites of these two strains; a newer religious strain and a classic class-war strain which hides under the religious strain.

Jeremy Corbyn is trying to revive the class-war. That also provides an environment for the class-war based strain of anti-semitism to prosper. It still has to be hidden under the cloak of being pro-Palestinian. But that, in turn, allows the religious strain of the disease to grow. So when the UK Labour party MP, Naz Shah (of Pakistani origin and a somewhat lurid background), expressed her anti-semitic views she represented the new religious strain. She was suspended from the party for that. But she was suspended by a very reluctant Jeremy Corbyn. But then Ken Livingstone (“Red Ken”, “Loony Ken”) came out in her support and Corbyn was forced to suspend him as well. He actually suffers from the class-war strain of the anti-semitism disease, though he too conveniently hides under the pro-Palestine version of the disease.

Now Jeremy Corbyn himself is a closet anti-semite of the class-war kind. Before he became leader of the party he came close to coming out of the closet when he supported radical and even extremist proponents of the Palestinian cause. Now, as leader, he cannot afford to be so politically incorrect. Nevertheless he could not just suspend his long-time friend and class-warrior, Ken Livingstone, for saying what he himself believed. To try and create a balance he got the chief whip to give the MP who publicly confronted Ken Livingstone a real dressing down. Corbyn did not do it himself of course.

class warriors (incidentally anti-semitic) image Daily Mirror

class warriors (incidentally anti-semitic) image Daily Mirror

But the message was clear.

So when Jeremy Corbyn says that the Labour party “does not support any form of anti-semitism”, he means except when it is the class-war kind and it is kept hidden under the guise of something else.


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