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Everything posted by arwebb

  1. The numbers make it as clear as it could be. Theresa May hasn't just been beaten tonight. She, and her deal, have been annihilated. The idea of having talks across parties in the light of this vote is all very well, but it is too little, too late. Mrs May should have been reaching out to other parties from the moment she lost her Parliamentary majority, at the very least. The fact that she hasn't, and even now is trying to save her deal, is part of the reason why we are now in the mess that we are. So what happens now? Assuming that tomorrow's motion of no confidence is defeated, as I expect it to be, it may be that a majority can be found for some alternative form of Brexit, though it is difficult to see exactly what that might be at the moment. I have felt for some time that the only way to resolve this is put the issue back to the people in another referendum. After all, we were asked to begin this process so there is no logic to the argument that we should not be asked to finish it. However, I do not believe that such a poll could be carried out with just a single question. To me, voters should be asked to approve or reject whatever form of Brexit comes forward from Parliament. If it is approved, then the issue is settled. If it is not, then we have to have the choice of our current membership or leaving with no deal. I don't think there is any guarantee that Remain would win such a poll, but it appears to me to be the best way to settle things right now.
  2. And so we near the point where the critical question - deal or no deal - must be answered. There may not be 22 identical sealed boxes in this game, but it feels as though the banker has all the aces and, whatever options are on the table for us as a nation, none of them come without risks. Rarely can the outlook for our nation have looked as depressing as this in peacetime.
  3. Not a moment too soon in the case of the latter. He should never have been appointed. I may be in a small minority on this one, but I actually feel sorry for Theresa May and I think the link posted above is well wide of the mark because it overlooks the domestic political reality. Ever since the general election of June last year, May has been in office, but not in power. But while she faces the impossible task of coming to a position that will keep her party happy, none of those agitating against her, particularly on the Brexiteer side, have so far had the intellect to come up with an alternative strategy or the courage to try to topple her, because they know that risks a general election and the potential for them to lose. That position is the natural progression from a referendum campaign that was based on, at the very best, a complete lack of clarity to the British electorate of what their post-Brexit position would look like. At no stage in the past two and a half years since the campaign began has there been any coherent attempt by the Brexit side to explain what it is that they want. So when the government eventually tries to find a way out of the mess, May finds herself being carped at both by the Brexiteers who won't take responsibility for the mess we're in and a European hierarchy that still doesn't appear to understand they need to work with us too. So what should happen now? Personally, I support the idea of a referendum on a final deal if, and it's a very big if at the moment, we get to that point. However, my preference would be to go much further than that and suspend the entire Article 50 process, if indeed that is possible, to enable our nation to decide what it wants from Brexit, probably through another general election. A depressing thought perhaps, but I don't see a better alternative.
  4. Beaten by a better side tonight. No disgrace in that. Wish Croatia well in the final, but France have to be clear favourites.
  5. I feel your pain. This tournament has played havoc with my study schedules this summer.
  6. One might be tempted to say that if we were special, the EU might have done more to try to keep us in.
  7. Commonwealth Games: Birmingham set to host 2022 event Inside The Games was reporting this last night as well. To lose one host was unfortunate. To lose two may have been seen as careless.
  8. Think we've already had an economic answer to that question, but I'll give you a political one - the very existence of the EU. We are one of the biggest contributors to the EU budget. Eventually, that money will need to be replaced and there are inevitably going to be rows about who pays how much more in. It makes sense for the EU to actually keep Britain as close as possible to defuse those rows. Moreover, the further down the path to ever closer union the EU goes, the greater the resistance is likely to be; a resistance that would only be inspired wheat happened last summer, whether we like it or not. It's in the EU's own interests to be fair to us but, rather like the pre-referendum talks, they don't seem to know what's best for them.
  9. Exactly. I can only see one way of resolving this peacefully and that's a proper, binding referendum like the one Scotland had in 2014. New elections might buy a bit of time but I don't see how pro-independence parties can't do well in them and bring the issue to a head again. It's no surprise the most measured and sensible statement we've heard so far was from the Scottish executive.
  10. In many ways, though, the EU IS the source of where we are now and to suggest otherwise is to attempt to abdicate that responsibility. It is the source of the political doctrine opposition to which was allowed to fester here for 25 years without being properly challenged. It is the organisation that didn't do enough to give David Cameron a defendable settlement. And it is the organisation that is now allowing itself to be seen to bully a sovereign nation that has chosen a different path. You want to know what the EU should do? It's simple - treat us fairly. At the moment, in both my view and many others if polling numbers are to be believed, that is just not happening. In making that argument, I'm not saying that the EU is the only party to blame for where we are now. Indeed, it seems to me that you could legitimately see this as the result of a series of catastrophic misjudgements. It's not simply that the Remain campaign was a reheated Project Fear where all the tricks had been seen before and alternative voices on that side were too quiet. I think you also have to question the extent to which the EU hierarchy really thought a Leave vote was a possibility. Basically, it's one giant cock-up.
  11. That's an absolutely crucial point and it feeds exactly into my thoughts about how the EU is not conducting these negotiations well at all either. While there are some European politicians with whom I think we can do business, it seems increasingly clear Mr Barnier, as well as Mr Juncker are not among them. Barnier's been talking more rubbish today. If he spent more time engaged in sensible negotiations rather than trying to bully us through the media, maybe these negotiations would be going a bit better.
  12. Do "civilised nations" suppress the rights of their citizens to self-determination through such means? Rajoy had all the cards in his favour and chose to throw them away through his own utter stupidity. If he could not see how badly that would backfire, he should go and find a job more suited to his intellect. As for the King, his role is not, or should not be, to publicly denounce those of his subjects who disagree with him, whatever he thinks in private.
  13. To call it a lame excuse is being far too kind to them. It is shameful. For certain European politicians to think calling for the sacking of the British foreign secretary is more of a priority than this shows those individuals up for the good for nothing wastes of space that they are. For pity's sake, what we saw in Catalonia at the weekend made the kind of puerile behaviour some politicians endured in the Scottish referendum look like a bloody tickling competition. Rajoy has lost every bit of moral authority he ever had by sending in the state thugs (sorry, apparently they're police) to do his bidding and proven he is unfit to hold office. Similarly, the king has politicised himself to an extent that I am very grateful our head of state would not do. And the hypocrisy of Western leaders, who are looking the other way when they'd condemn exactly the same behaviour by a dictator makes me want to vomit. Shame on every last bastard one of them.
  14. While I've seen plenty of coverage of the German elections in the British media, I've seen nothing of the New Zealand situation to a point where this is actually the first I knew there had been an election. Sounds like it's rather a mess over there (seems to be the time for it). Any idea what the most likely way forward is?
  15. I don't think you'll find much disagreement about the Leave campaign here, certainly not from me. But the point I'm making, and I make it as a Remain voter, is that they are allowing themselves to be seen in a way that feeds into exactly the kind of narrative that you describe and I don't see how that helps anyone. While I am heartened, from what little bit I have read of Mr Barnier's response to Theresa May's Florence speech today, I think I'm still in the same position I was when I wrote a column on this a few weeks ago of not trusting either side. It does indeed, which is why I feel the apparent desire to press ahead with closer integration as though nothing has happened is just not sensible. We can blame Leave campaign falsehoods, anti-establishment feeling, "Little Englander" mentalities and concerns about immigration all we want. But to do so, however much truth there may be in any of those themes and others, without considering how the EU itself contributed to the Leave vote does not make for a full analysis. As for the negotiations so far, I'm sure I'm not alone in having no real idea what the British government's aims actually are. Regardless of whether or not that's a symptom of internal Cabinet wranglings, it's pretty bloody depressing to watch. I argued in the immediate aftermath of the referendum that it was really won and lost in pre-dominantly Labour areas and I stand by that. While I have some personal sympathy for Jeremy Corbyn as someone else who supported Remain despite Eurosceptic leanings, he did not do anything like enough, as the leader of the main opposition, pro-Europe, party to make the case.
  16. The British Alpine Skiing Championships have been held in Tignes for the last three years, so I presume that must be the case.
  17. Even if there is an element of truth to that, and one might have thought that would have been apparent before now, I would still argue it is a stance that carries significant risk to the EU's own long-term future. What we heard from Mr Juncker last week not only feeds into the Eurosceptic narrative I referred to previously, but potentially fuels similar movements in other countries as well. There are clear lessons for the EU to learn about how it contributed to the Leave vote but it is equally clear its leaders do not wish to learn them.
  18. The problem with that apparent attitude from Barnier and Juncker is that it feeds into exactly the kind of narrative the anti-EU lobby have been seeking to create, accurately or otherwise, for years. They are allowing themselves to be perceived as trying to bully us and that impression is unhelpful on two fronts. First, it only serves to harden attitudes on both sides and make "negotiations" that much more difficult. But, even more seriously than that, it undermines the efforts of those British politicians who are still trying to argue the case for any continuing EU membership, if indeed that is what they want. As much as I have sympathy with the idea of a second referendum, I don't see how there is a hope in hell of achieving that when you see Barnier and Juncker behaving as they are. If we have been ill-served by our politicians, and let us not forget it was we, the people (though neither you nor I personally) who took this decision, then I don't think you can solely blame the Conservative party for that. Labour, in particular, has to take its share of the responsibility, not just for its attitude to the EU question when it was in government but its failure to persuade its supporters to back the Remain side in sufficient numbers. I will still argue with anyone who is prepared to debate it with me that it is unfair to blame David Cameron for calling the referendum, because he is the only political leader we have had in the last quarter of a century who was willing to try to settle the European issue once and for all. His error, and that of those around him, appears to have been to fight the EU referendum on similar lines to that of the Scottish independence referendum which they very nearly contrived to lose as well.
  19. It's never a comfortable position to find oneself agreeing with Nigel Farage, but I thought he was absolutely right in his assessment of Jean-Claude Juncker's speech in the European Parliament the other day. While I have little confidence in the British government at the moment, there's little doubt in my mind that the negotiations would be helped significantly by Mr Juncker and Michel Barnier engaging their brains before making the kind of ill-judged remarks we have heard from them recently. It may be easy to look for others to blame for the situation we are in now, but Messrs Juncker and Barnier, in my view, would serve the peoples they claim to far better if they properly understood why we voted to go instead of making their own Project Fear phrasebook.
  20. Los Angeles appear to have announced they are hosting 2028. Paris will probably be seen as the big winners from this, but I suspect the biggest winners of all in this are the IOC as this gives the breathing space they need to work out exactly how to make the Olympics attractive to cities again.
  21. When the story of this election comes to be written by the academics and historians, it will take them a very long time to sift through all the mixed messages of what is a quite extraordinary result. Our government as a whole is now clearly weaker as a result of the failure of all the parties to convince enough of the electorate and that will have implications for the Brexit negotiations going forward. Yet, with the losses incurred by the Scottish National Party, it seems to me that the future of our own union of nations appears to be safer now than it was. I voted Conservative both in 2010 and 2015, and was confident that Theresa May would be a good prime minister when she took office last summer. But, the more I saw of her in this campaign, the less impressed I was. There are too many reasons why I felt I couldn't vote for her party this time round but the main one was a fundamental lack of confidence in her as a leader of my country that goes far beyond the Brexit negotiations to come. What has made me even more angry, however, is the way in which she has sought to carry on regardless. I understand that, as leader of the largest party, she gets first crack at forming a government. But, having endured such a substantial reverse, she ought to be reaching out and modifying her course. Instead, she appears oblivious to the fact her political credibility is shot to pieces and someone in the Tory party is going to have to put the country first and get her out. Just as long as it isn't Boris.
  22. Interesting. Any indication of the likely support for it there? I'd wager they'd be a pretty formidable contender.
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