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Everything posted by arwebb

  1. Farage always brings with him a certain amount of the 'yah-boo' style of politics that is so often typical of the Westminster Parliament he has unsuccessfully sought to be elected to on several occasions. But, when you cut through the bluster and jibes that littered his speech this morning, he was making a similar argument to the one I put forward in this thread last night that the dream of full political union is now dead. The question is whether the EU leadership is prepared to accept that and undertake the task of meaningful reform. Everything we have heard since Friday suggests that they are not. Where I disagree with Farage is on his argument that we should invoke Article 50 immediately. I don't believe it makes any sense for us to do that because, with a new prime minister to be elected in early September and the main opposition party facing a leadership challenge seemingly at any moment, we are nowhere near a coherent position on what we actually want from the negotiations to take place. I would much rather us wait and have a fully-developed plan and then go from there. That may make negotiations more difficult, but I see that as a lesser risk than going ahead now and ending up with a bad deal. Ultimately, it is in all our interests to work constructively together. Similarly, it makes sense for representatives of the areas and nations which voted to remain to have a full part in developing that position. One thing that Johnson did get right is the need for the Leave side to try to bring those of us who voted the other way into the process.
  2. The crucial element in this respect is going to be the response of the EU leadership, particularly given the clear divisions that are now opening up with politicians from Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria now leading the demands for reform. To my mind, Mr Juncker, who has faced calls to resign today, and his colleagues must now accept that their dream of full political union is dead. Their focus now, whether we stay or not, should be on reforming the organisation so that it is fit to face the challenges of the 21st century and not the 20th. If they do that, then I still maintain there is a chance to persuade the British people to reverse its decision. But if they don't, history may well come to judge this referendum as the beginning of the end of the EU.
  3. You've just summed up my reaction during a lot of tonight's game. That was until the pure fury kicked in.
  4. Here's more of what Johnson has written in his Telegraph column. It reads to me like an extension of the theme CAF referred to, but also leaves one wondering exactly what the last four months have all been for. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36637037
  5. Breaking news line from the BBC tonight - "Boris Johnson says UK will continue to "intensify" cooperation with EU following referendum result." I guess this is in his Telegraph column tomorrow, but that seems to fly in the face of what he has spent the last four months campaigning for as well.
  6. Some pretty unpleasant stuff from the EDL in Newcastle yesterday.
  7. You may think that, but some on the Leave side, as the below video shows, would argue that point. This is just one of the areas where the Leave campaign's promises have fallen apart. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36628894
  8. I understand where you're coming from, but, as anyone who has been through a break-up will know, emotional decisions are rarely good ones. It is not in anyone's interests to make this Brexit process any more painful than it is likely to be, if indeed it happens at all (and I'll come back to that point). As things stand, Britain is still a very important market for many EU traders in many sectors and, just as it is important that British interests are not unnecessarily damaged by what is to come, it is also important that the interests of those EU companies who still wish to do business in this country are not unnecessarily damaged too. So, for me, it is a time for cool heads on both sides in order to find the best possible solution for all. As for who I'd like to see become Prime Minister, I find readily myself drawn towards the ABB (Anyone But Boris) camp for fairly obvious reasons. But, as the below link alludes to, there is actually something quite appealing about Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and their campaign colleagues being forced to try to deliver on the promises and slogans they have fought this campaign on. http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/people-are-really-really-hoping-this-theory-about-david-cameron-and-brexit-is-true--bJhqBql0VZ It's not what they campaigned on that is appealing, particularly given how a lot of it has unraveled so quickly after the result was confirmed. It is the total lack of wriggle room that the Leave campaign has given itself in the event of their victory that is appealing. The more you think about it, the more it becomes clear that the person who wrote that comment is absolutely spot on. On Tuesday afternoon, I was among a group of journalists who followed Iain Duncan Smith as he made a Vote Leave campaign visit to King's Lynn. When he spoke to us, I asked him if a close vote (51-49 or 52-48) really would be the end of the story. While he gave a campaigning answer, another of the Vote Leave campaigners (a local councillor) gave the more honest answer of "I don't think so." I don't think either he or I knew just how much of a premonition our words would prove to be. I have seen and read, mostly via social media, some very disturbing things in the last 24 hours. I live and work in an area of high migration, particularly from Eastern Europe. I hope and pray this doesn't turn really ugly.
  9. I absolutely agree with the idea that the invoking of Article 50 should not happen straightaway. Given the turmoil that is currently engulfing British politics, with both the governing and main opposition parties in varying degrees of disarray, I believe it would be sensible to allow the dust from Thursday to settle and appropriate domestic political actions to take place. I would also argue that the demands from certain European officials for a swift move to invoke Article 50 risk them being seen as trying to bully us; something which is only going to make an already difficult situation even more tense. So what needs to happen in Britain? First and foremost, we need a new Prime Minister. But whoever is elected to that post by Conservative Party members, I believe the unprecedented circumstances we now find ourselves in as a country requires that he or she must call an early general election, probably this autumn. Given that the views of the vast majority of our current MPs are at odds with the referendum result, there is a very real danger of a further erosion of public trust in politics if, as one or two MPs have suggested, they should seek to take action contrary to the referendum result. There is also the risk, as Gordon Brown will no doubt testify to, of being seen to lack political legitimacy without the backing of the electorate. Only after those things have happened do I think the question of invoking Article 50 should even arise.
  10. At the risk of repeating myself, I don't think you can isolate Cameron's decision to go for a referendum from the wider post-Maastricht period and the general failure of the British political elite to engage with the issue. The most important factor in the result was not the Tory split, but the fact that traditional Labour areas deserted their party's line in massive numbers.
  11. Maybe the divorce will never happen. David Allen Green, of the Financial Times, on Twitter and the Jack of Kent blog is very interesting on this subject.
  12. David Cameron deserves a hell of a lot more respect than that. He is the one political leader who has had the courage to face up to the anti-EU movement and engaging with the issue. If his predecessors had done so a lot earlier, we would not be in this position now.
  13. On Scotland, there will be another independence referendum. It's simply a question of when the SNP government get to a position where they are confident of winning it. They're not there yet and, given the gains made by the Conservatives in the recent parliamentary elections there, I'm not sure it will be as soon as one may think. As for the split between the people and the House of Commons, I think there is only one way to resolve that and that is through a pretty swift general election. That is more complicated now as the relatively new Fixed Term Parliaments Act requires either a two-thirds majority in the House or a vote of no confidence to be past. But nearly three-quarters of our MPs are known to have favoured Remain and I don't think the gap between their view and that of the people can be easily closed.
  14. Even if there is an element of truth to that argument, and I don't doubt there is, I think to see it wholly in those terms would be just as erroneous a stereotype as you appear to be implying in those who voted to leave. Certainly the anecdotal evidence I've picked up over the last few days, both before and after the vote, suggests that the message of "taking back control" of our affairs was a very powerful one.
  15. As the sun sets on this momentous day, I feel as stunned by what has happened now as I did in the early hours of this morning. My local count was declared shortly after 5am today. About half an hour later, I left the hall and found a gloriously bright and sunny June morning. It was the sort of morning that makes you think things are OK. And yet it is hard to see how things will ever be quite the same again. We are now entering a period of great uncertainty, one that conceivably ends with a rump Britain (perhaps confined to England and Wales) outside the European Union as Scotland and Northern Ireland choose different paths. I do not blame those who would seek alternative constitutional arrangements for the latter two nations for pursuing those aims in the light of a result where their peoples chose the opposite option to those of England and Wales. But, as much as I believe the British people collectively took the wrong path in voting to leave, independence for Scotland or a united Ireland are, by no means, automatic consequences of what happened yesterday. Ultimately, it is in all our interests, both inside and outside Britain, to work constructively together to achieve both national and common purposes. That can still be done if the collective will is there. That is why the responses of leaders like Chancellor Merkel and President Obama to the result are far more encouraging to me than those of the EU leadership. In responding as they did and insisting that the union of 27, in their words, "is the framework of our common political future", they show a fundamental lack of understanding of why the British people voted as they did. Much will be made of the discussion over immigration in particular, but this vote, at its heart, is a rejection of the European project. More than once during the campaign, I heard Leave activists refer to a target date of 2025 for the completion of political and fiscal union. From that, they argued, this was the last chance for us to take back control of who governs our affairs. That was, and is, a powerful message and unless Messrs Juncker, Tusk and the rest actually realise they and what they represent are the problem, this will not be the end of the story. We are already seeing exit movements developing in other nations and one of the MPs in the area I work, who campaigned for Leave, predicted to me today that the EU will collapse and its members will return to more of a Common Market-style of arrangement which, in his view, would be in Britain's interest to participate in. That seems a long way off, but it doesn't seem quite so far-fetched now.
  16. Good morning from East Anglia, one of the most Eurosceptic regions of what is now, officially, an anti-EU country. This is an historic, seismic moment not just for our country, but for Europe and the wider world. Although I have watched it unfold while waiting for the count on my patch, I still cannot believe that it has happened. The implications of what my fellow citizens who chose to mark a different box to the one I chose to are likely to be far-reaching and are probably nowhere clear as I write this. Personally, I voted to Remain, not because of any great faith in the European Union, but because I believed the Leave side had failed to pass the test I outlined in an earlier post of clearly explaining how and why the change they seek would benefit our country. So why have we voted Out? There will doubtless be many reasons cited in the time to come, but one crucial point that mustn't be overlooked is that of the extent to which anti-EU feeling has been allowed to fester by successive British governments. Instead of engaging with the issue, they hoped it would go away. David Cameron had the bravery to take it on directly and he will carry the can of defeat. But those who went before him into Downing Street must shoulder the blame too.
  17. I think your question strikes at the heart of why the tone of this campaign has been as hard-edged as it has been. There are a lot of people in this country who believe, rightly or wrongly, that the EU of today is a fundamentally different institution to the one that we joined in the 1970s. The Eurosceptic movement has, broadly speaking, grown steadily in strength for the last 20 years or so, really from the moment that the EC became the EU through the Maastricht Treaty, and I think a key reason for that is the reluctance of successive governments to actively engage in debate with them. If this had happened 20, 10 or even five years ago, I don't think it would be as tight as it seems right now. Most fundamentally, though, I don't see it as a waste of time to ask a population, a large majority of whom have never been asked before, to consider this matter. David Cameron, in my view, is to be commended, whatever the reasons, for doing what should have been done a long time ago. Very much resident in the UK and also very much working covering the count. My polling day will be spent in the office and then trying to get some rest ahead of what I suspect will be a long and historic night, either way.
  18. Well, I've now passed the point of no return. After watching the BBC debate at Wembley Arena tonight, I've made my decision and put the cross in my chosen box on the ballot paper, which will be in the post first thing tomorrow morning. I'm not going to say how I've voted at this stage. I believe there are powerful arguments on both sides of this debate and I feel that others who are still undecided should be given the time and space to reach their own conclusions, as I have done. There is no perfect solution. But I've voted for the option that I believe is the best for me, for my family, for my friends and for my country. Ultimately, that is what we must all do between now and 10pm on Thursday.
  19. Well, the moment of decision has almost come to us and I remain as deeply torn now about how to vote as when we first discussed this issue earlier in the year. As many of you will know, my instincts are Eurosceptic. I believe the European Union, in its current form, is in need of radical reform and that feeling was summed up very well for me in a tweet I saw from John Cleese a few days ago in which he said: "If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU, I'd vote to stay in. But there isn't. Sad." And yet, in a referendum situation, it seems to me that the onus ought to be on those who propose change to set out precisely why and how the change they desire will benefit the nation. I do not believe the Leave campaign has yet done that and yet the Remain side has also failed, in my view, to make a positive case for us to stay in. I think my decision will ultimately come down to a gut feeling when I fill in my postal vote paper and I suspect the same will be true for many millions of others when they go to the polling stations on Thursday.
  20. If it is, I'll go for the vuvuzela.
  21. Excellent from Italy. They may not have been seen as serious contenders by many going into the tournament, but they will be now. Lille on Wednesday is a much greater concern to me at the moment, particularly given the FA saying it has "serious concerns" about security arrangements. The fact Russia have also been threatened with potential expulsion, to me, is not the point. Before going after individual nations, UEFA should be addressing its own failures. It won't though. Governing bodies never do until they are forced to. We've seen that all too often before.
  22. It seems to me that we are seeing a surge in behaviour that most fair-minded people would find utterly distasteful. One only needs to look at what's been going on in Marseille, and to a lesser extent Lille and Nice, over the last few days to see evidence of that. But, as much as that conduct is abhorrent, it does raise important questions about the competence, or otherwise of those in authority. To see Russian fans charging their English counterparts on Saturday night doesn't just suggest that security arrangements within the stadium were woefully inadequate. It also raises serious concerns, in my mind, about what awaits us when the World Cup is played in Russia two years from now. Similarly, the clashes reported in Lille and Nice suggest a wider problem, which it is to be hoped the proposed alcohol ban in certain areas will address. But it shouldn't have needed several days like this to make that happen. In making these points, I am not seeking, in any way, to condone or excuse the behaviour of any individual, of any nationality, involved in these disturbances. But history tells us that if we do not question those in authority about how they go about their business, they will make similar mistakes again. While I understand their reasons, it is not good enough, in my view, for UEFA to threaten disqualification of particular nations when it has neither examined or addressed its own errors.
  23. England played better last night than in any tournament fixture for many, many years last night. That Russian equaliser was nothing short of theft.
  24. Today, the world has lost not only the most influential sportsman it has ever known but one of its most influential men in any field of human endeavour. I think history teaches us that if you want to change things, you can't, and you won't, do it quietly. Muhammad Ali changed the world because his talent as a boxer gave him a platform through which he could express his political and social ideas, such as his opposition to the Vietnam War, that eventually came to be seen as sound even if they were thought of as highly radical in the beginning. By no means was all he did positive and a lot of what he directed towards Joe Frazier in particular crossed a line of decency. But, if we were to tally his positive and negative contributions to the world over his 74 years within it, I don't think there's any question that the former significantly outweighs the latter. Like Rob, I'm too young to have seen Ali in his prime, but his lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta is, to me, an extraordinarily powerful illustration of the triumph of the human spirit. Perhaps it would have been easier for him to fade into obscurity as his illness became more apparent. But that would have been an easy option and the rest of his life showed those weren't options he took that often. As a fighter, we will never truly know how good Ali might have been, because of the period he was disgracefully forced to spend in exile from the sport. But what we know is more than enough to understand just how special a competitor he was. In 1999, when he was voted Sports Personality of the Century by BBC Television viewers, he polled more votes the other nominees (George Best, Sir Donald Bradman, Jack Nicklaus, Jesse Owens and Pele) combined. I think that rather sums it up. Every man and woman who has earned their living from professional boxing in the last 50 years has reason to be thankful for the life of Muhammad Ali. But his wider contributions to society, and to the world, mean their debt is one that we all share and it is a debt that is unpayable. Farewell champ.
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