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Everything posted by Ripley

  1. I think a Swiss or Norwegian would agree with that realistic assessment of the situation the UK / EU faces.
  2. Manchester is the only other viable UK Olympic city. Can't swing a hand bag there without hitting a bid stadium or arena. The uk won't see another olypics for at least 50 years unless one drops in to our laps like Paris / LA. 2030s surely a good time for next Aussie games - Melbourne 2032 is a mouthwatering prospect.
  3. A joint bid between Edinburgh and Iceland for skiing? They're looking for ways to make the winter games more popular with hosts.
  4. I agree that the UK government approach to future relations is probably not thought through as with everything else brexit related. However I think your perspective is very black and white. The reality is that the UK is not North Amaerican Canada or neutral Switzerland or a small state like Norway. There are things that the UK needs from the EU and vice versa. For example, any trade agreement will need to deal with fishing rights in U.K. Waters which are vital for danish, Dutch, Belgian, French, Spanish and Portuguese fisherman. Most eu counties borrow money using the London markets and the EU investment bank owes the UK Billions. 62% of Irish exports use the UK as a land bridge to the EU. There are a million Poles living in the U.K. and 2.5 million other EU citizens. There are of course limits on what the EU can do due to WTO rules and existing trade agreements but a compromise will surely need to be found that respects the reality of both sides. There are 3rd countries and there is an ex member and I don't think they are the same thing. If the EU is belligerent about that then I'm not sure the EU 27 will stay united for long given their divergent economic interests in relation to the UK and varying levels of appetite for The EU. Don't get me wrong, as a Brit I'm ashamed it's come to this but it's also fascinating to see the EU's ugly "tough love" side in all of this. It's sobering, patronising and divisive - everything the Brexiteers hoped it would be.
  5. I think the have your cake and eat it sound bite has been thoroughly proved wrong as the negotiations have moved on. The government (such that it is) is clearly pursuing a trade deal. There's no way the British people would tolerate being in the single market but outside the decion making structures. Norway is small country where there's tacit acceptance that they will have to "bend in the EU wind". THe UK has different options and is far too self important to accept that kind of relationship. Essentially what is being sought is CETA+. Less than single market membership but more than the Canadian free trade deal. I think there is a reasonable chance we will get that kind of relationship. Ireland was discussed at length in the referendum campaign- many English and Welsh people have Irish ancestry and family ties. I think people voted to leave for a variety of reasons but the consequences were not presented to them or were unknown. I don,t think the approach to Ireland since by the EU has been that intelligent either. They're insisting on sorting out border arrangements with Ireland before any discussion about the future trade relations with the EU. It's a bit bonkers if you ask me.
  6. It's not a contradiction to rely on democratically elected governments to cooperate with each other (EU Council) - which people understand and can rationalise as their representatives, rather than a remote commmission and parliament that has no discernible role or recognition in the everyday life of people. Junker didn't even come to the UK when he was campaigning to be "nominated" as the next president of the commission. Can you imagine a US presidential candidate not turning out in the second or third biggest US state? I don't think a Brit has ever been a president of the EU Commission. Maybe MEPs were never given a chance in the UK and perhaps in other countries they are more representative and better recognised? As things stand virtually no British person would be able to tell you who their MEP was and take no interest in the EU Parliament. It's viewed as something foreign and a threat to democracy in the UK by many. It's also thought of as anti British. That has a lot to do with the media but also because there is a fundamental disconnect between the people and the institution. FPTP is an imperfect system which should be improved as they are rationalising the size of MP constituencies to make then more equal in terms of population size. PR is also an imperfect system - which always leads to coalition government and power sharing. Look what's happening in Germany as the coalition building is under way. It's all happening behind closed doors. CDU supporters are largely unaware of which policies the party will negotiate away in pursuit of power. Personally I would prefer a PR or alternative vote system in the UK but it has been rejected in a referendum because it goes against the democratic tradition in the UK where people generally prefer strong governments that are able to implement their programmes / policies. Obviously that hasnt happened recently though because the country is very divided.
  7. These are uncharted waters for the EU - no member state has ever left. If its response to this is to just treat an ex member as a 3rd country then of course it is a liberty to do so. The reality is that due to geography, social and economic ties the UK is not just another 3rd country. We're in a situation where both sides are having to artificially create a reduced kind of relationship. When Ireland left the UK in the early 1900's there was a lot of pain and anger felt between the two sides - however a lot of practical measures were put in place to maintain freedom of movement (Common Travel Area) and Irish residents still had rights to participate economically and socially in the UK that went well beyond what other sovereign states were allowed. Paradoxically many of those historic agreements are at risk now we are leaving the EU. You talk like the British or other members have not been raising the democratic deficit in the EU - we / they have done for years. The problem is that some (Germany included) want greater democracy at the EU level - whereas others (Britain included) don't believe there is a demos at the European level. Two opposing views and the response is just "drift". It will be interesting (from an outsiders perspective) to see how that issue resolves itself as France and Germany push for greater integration (although different versions of it). No reasonable person thinks that the EU institutions are totalitarian (although some Greeks may choose to differ) but they are dangerously deficient and theoretically capable of instigating fundamental change in nation states without the democratic consent of the populations. Of course the EU has a role to promote its values through proactive stances such as towards the Polish constitutional changes - but it just not clear how those values are defined and where they are enshrined. The Lisbon Treat is the closest thing we have but the public cannot be expected to understand it and French and Dutch voters rejected the EU constitution - which ironically the British would have probably signed because we weren't going to hold a referendum on it... I guess "fair" means being reasonable and the EU not going out of its way to deny history and realities just to prove a political point. It remains to be seen if the EU can do that or if the UK would even notice it if it did, given the madness that exists in the minds of the Bexiteers.
  8. Your quite right. Most intelligent people fully realise that paradise is not waiting post brexit. I'm thinking of what could happen if the EU remains as inflexible as it is now. The regional geopolitics will be very uncomfortable for the EU in the longer term. Britain will be forced to reposition itself and the new arrangements are likely to be a lot less comfortable for the EU than a close trade deal would have been. Imagine the UK sitting in glorious isolation while the EU squabbles amongst itself, lurching for one crisis to the next trying to negotiate budget cuts and increased contributions with countries like Denmark, Poland and Sweden. While at the same time they're being cajoled in to deeper and deeper integration. It's unlikely to end well and the UK will be a permanent reminder of an alternative. That's what the EU needs to place at the forefront of its mind. As soon as the the U.K. walks away there will be an economic hit - the arguments in the EU will just begin and will go on for years.
  9. I think if the EU is reasonable and accommodating now then the prospect of the UK returning in some guise in future cannot be ruled out. If there's a bitter split, then the prospect of changing public opinion will disappear. No deal will push the U.K. to consider membership of NAFTA which would flood the U.K. market with American cars and products that the European companies would not be able to compete with. Trade between the EU and UK would deminish drastically in the medium term and the UK would have less and less invested in maintaining good EU relations and security, beyond NATO. It would be a deep and permanent split. Of course the U.K. would be very deminished too in the medium term, but it's inevitable that things would rebalance and in the longer term the UK would recover and that is the real problem for the EU. Medium term punishment and effect will cause real damage in the longer term. I can feel the hostility building in the UK towards the EU. People are starting to view the EU as something threatening and unreasonable. Even those who voted remain like myself.
  10. It always amazes me that an efficient engineering solution, that is affordable to build, has not been found to have a genuinely multi purpose stadium. I think London was ok but the Olympic stadium wasn't exactly impressive. I guess if you want to downsize you have to compromise on aesthetics. I remember London's bid design was a silvery space age structure but that was soon forgotten when the construction contractor got involved and it was costed.
  11. Wouldn't Spain have a veto about Catalonia joining the single market?
  12. Spain has a written constitution that presumably Catalonia signed up to? Rajoy has maybe been a bit heavy handed - he should have let the referendum go ahead unopposed - he didn't need to send in state police when constitutionally the vote was illegitimate before it started. There was some rough treatment of protesters but it wasn't exactly Tienanmen Square and no-one died. My point is that if you you want to remain in the list of civilized nations then Catalonia's only option is to do this legally and Spain should hold its breath and let it get on with it. Surely there is a role for the King here, he's the head of State...I don't see anything wrong in the King choosing the side of Spain - the country he represents. I don't think there was any ambiguity on the part of the Queen that Scotland should remain in the UK although she wasn't involved in any campaigning of any sort. Isn't it the case that an independent Catalonia will be waiting decades to get into the EU because Spain would block any attempt by it to become an EU member - there was a similar discussion around Scotland - the Nationalists there said various different versions of Scotland being able to leap into the arms of the EU post independence, while the point was made that it would be a 3rd country and would need to apply and join the queue. Surely Catalonia's economy would be utterly destroyed outside the single market - Barcelona would become a ghetto.
  13. I can't envisage a situation where the UK government would deport 3 million EU immigrants. They are needed and it would utterly destroy relations with indivual EU members never mind the EU itself. Even UKIP don't want that. There's little evidence to suggest all EU nationals would leave anyway. On current projectsions the UK is set to become the largest country in The EU 28 by 2040 with a population of 77 million. I think that rate of population growth is part of the problem for many Brits when it comes to immigration.
  14. Its all very depressing and I think it was inevitable it would be acrimonious. Barnier is just doing his job trying to deal with a line up of deluded idiots on the British side. Junker on the other hand took the vote personally - his legacy as commission president is permanently ruined. He is bitter and out for revenge. If he was a bigger man he would try to be magnanimous and offer a grander vision that maybe the brits could live with - some kind of looser relationship. The trouble for the brits is that as much as we don't have a clear idea of what our future relationship should be, the EU doesn't know what it's future is. Macron and junker may make big speeches but the fact is there,s not a consistent view from the EU members about the future direction. On that big question successive UK governments have been fairly consistent - we want a trading relationship with limited cooperation in other areas such as immigration. Note sure what the future holds but as a country of 66 million and with the largest security apparatus in Europe we can't be ignored. The UK will be a thorn in the side of the EU for decades to come. Even if we are economically weak our existence outside the EU we will be a constant reminder of the EUs short comings. If we recover economically we will be a constant alternative pole for other disgrnuntled EU members to run towards. If I was the EU I would be trying a lot harder to forge a better relationship and offer some way for the UK to stay in the fold. The current appearance of unity in the EU is based mainly around extracting money from the UK. If the UK walks away from the negotiations and the money stops in 2019, the budget adjustment process will erupt into a massive fight and that unity will be shown for what it is. The UK has more to lose by walking away but I think people are underestimating the impact that will have on EU unity.
  15. Surely there must be some notice period to end NAFTA - even the Uk and EU have 2 years before the axe falls. NAFTA seems to offer the Brexiteers everything they wanted from the EU but can't have. A free trade agreement with relatively minor political / sovereignty baggage compared to where the EU is headed. No currency union issues and mass immigration. Sounds like Brexit nirvana.
  16. It's becoming pretty clear that the EU is united in its determination to make the whole process of Brexit very painful. I respect them for it and no doubt it's deserved. But - I can't really see any kind of positive relationship being in place at the end of this divorce process. There's a real danger that attitudes will harden and the EU will be increasingly thought of as a threat. There doesn't seem to be anything positive or worthwhile to be gained for the UK. I hoped for more but even as a devout remainer I feel defeated even before negotiations begin. Perhaps it would be more painful but easier just to walk away rather than go through this humiliating charade? I wonder if the UK will join NAFTA? Given the agreement is being renegotiated I wouldn't be supprised if there was some back channels to Washington about that. How would the US Canada and Mexico feel about 66 million Brits joining the club with our pleading little arms outstretched and our begging bowl - seems ridiculous is some respects but I suppose it would unite the English speaking countries of the North Atlantic in trade terms - minus Ireland of course. I suspect this is where we will end up. We'll bring Adele and some Range Rovers and we can buy your maple syrup, tacos and chervrolets.
  17. Was thinking about what would happen in the US if there was evidence that the presidential election result had been tainted by Russian dirty tricks and the collusion of the trump campaign team... surely the election would need to be held again??
  18. My overall impression of Farage during the EURef was that he was a side show - it was BoJo who was the Leave leader in the minds of the public... and he's now the foreign sec (gulp). I voted remain with knobs on, but even I could see the rationale for some of the concerns expressed about the dysfunctional state of the EU and its undemocratic approach to member states. The so-called election of EU Commission president Junker, dressed up by Europhiles as a wonderful exercise in democracy was a big wake up call for many. I thought that these concerns were overstated at the time - but I can see how the dysfunctional and delusional way it was carried out under the noses of the public unsettled people in the context of a general malaise and lack of trust. With Trump, its not the man himself that is the main worry - its the way people were willing to look past blatant lies and half truths - this suggests that there is a real need to examine how our democracy works in the digital age and to figure out ways to make sure the echo chamber of social media is held to a certain standard.
  19. The immigration issues in the EU are partly as a result of globalisation but also about EU policies and ideology. It's right that richer countries should offer opportunities and refuge to immigrants from poorer EU countries and war torn countries. But, you have to look at the environmental and social constraints in the host country. You can't build a better world by making everyone poorer - that is why socialism / communism failed. The host countries can benefit from immigration - and the UK certainly has. You also have to acknowledge that at a certain point, if immigration is left uncontrolled, then the benefits tip in to costs (not just financial). I think the EU referendum result shows that in broad terms the UK population has calculated that the costs now outweigh the benefits. Of course a loud small minority makes that choice look racist / nationalistic. / far right. However, only listening to those voices misses the bigger point. The majority of people in the UK live and work alongside Poles, Latvians, spaniards, Italians etc etc and there is no problem. British culture and society doesn't recognise itself as an ethnicity because we're not. The White population is a melting pot of ethnic ancient tribes which was added to by later influxes of Vikings, French, Germans, Indians, Africans, Pakistanis and others. Immigration is not a new phenomenon and has broadly happened without incident. It doesn't matter where the latest influx has come from, the fact is for most in the UK it's a pure numbers game. Many Brits with a immigrant background voted to leave the EU because of immigration and the effect it was having on their lives - not because they resented any particular cultural traits of the immigrants. The EU just doesn't get this. It's probably true to say that most refugees and immigrants have English as a second language. They will naturally come to the UK if they could. That's not arrogance it's a significant probability. It's the "path of least resistance" for a significant number of immigrants and refugees to settle in an English speaking country. Thousands are living in squalor in calaise for the chance of a new life in the UK. Anyone driving to the Channel Tunnel or port will feel scared and under siege at the sight that meets them. This is the background to the immigration debate in the UK. With a population increasing at a rate of 330,000 people per year no one can argue the uk has / is not taking its fair share of immigrants. - refugees are a separate issue but the EU arguably dampened people's enthusiasm to offer refuge in the way Germany has. I think that's a shame and is wrong. - but we are where we are. Get a map of Europe. - look at the size of the U.K. Is it right that this relatively small island will have the largest population in the EU by 2030?
  20. Very interesting article CAF. I read it and feel a great yearning for the openness and optimism of the early 2000s when the eastern block joined the European Union. In some respects it seems like a prosperous magical time now. But that was a dream based on the euphoria of the end of the Cold War. The reality in the uk after a decade of mass migration is that the country is not coping well with this influx. It's not based on xenophobia but on the real life experiences of people who struggle to find well paid work and get a doctor's appointment. We are a country of 65 million people on a small island the size of Collarado. Our land mass is half the size of France which has the same sized population. Big increases in population have a big and more immediate impact than elsewhere. In the EU we had the option to travel to other countries to escape the worst effects of the migration but is that really what the EU is about, letting one group of migrants squeeze a host society so much that they chose to leave? England has the same population density as India and it's no surprise that the Netherlands is also divided on the eu because it is even more densely populated. Germany's population is dropping sharply - you need more people to move there. We need less migrants, but we do need them. This article shows that the UK is a popular choice for migrants due to language and cultural attractions. The level of migration into the uk is unsustainable and this is why we have the wrong result in the referendum. The U.K. is not an ethic grouping or tribe of people - it's a space for likeminded people to live in. The trouble is there's just not enough space for everyone who wants to come and share it. It should be free movement of labour in the EU - not free movement of people. People should have a job to come to and they should leave if they don't have a job or means to support themselves or until they gained citizenship after 4 years. I really don't think that is too much to ask for and would allow the UK to remain in the EU.
  21. Read on the BBC that some Eurocrat is saying that the UK will need to first divorce and then negotiate a trade deal. That effectively means that by the time the divorce is settled there will be no time left during the 2 year timescale set by article 50 to negotiate a trade deal. We'll be truly out in the cold and totally hobbled economically. Maybe we could sell Russia our new aircraft carriers to bring in some money?
  22. Imagine this scenario- Merkel in Berlin, May in London and Le Pen in Paris - talk about girl power
  23. My prediction (with just a soupcon of wishful thinking) - There will be a general election in the UK this year and we'll end up with a coalition government. The Lib Dems will make huge gains on the promise not to leave the EU and also as a result of the disgust the public feels towards Labour and the Tories - especially now Boris has been shown to be a naive moron and has withdrawn from the leadership race. We'll either not leave the EU at all, or we'll leave and return relatively quickly (assuming the EU wants us back which is certainly not certain). Its also being reported that whoever the next PM is won't be able to trigger Article 50 (signalling a legal intention to leave the EU) without the consent of Parliament - and we know that almost two thirds of MPs want to remain in the EU. Fingers crossed!
  24. That's all possible, but what it fails to reflect is the ability for the money men in London to work around barriers to access. What we may see are banks moving their HQ functions to Paris / Dublin / Frankfurt or wherever, but the british government and finance industry will be much freerer to be pragmatic and creative. Any EU deal will not include financial services or not so much, which will give the EU limited leverage over UK policy and regulation in this area. This could lead to a spiral of additional regulation in the EU which will kill off any gains and lead to arguments within the EU about market regulation and its impact on diverse national economies and priorities. Can't imagine France and club med countries wanting to hold back on things like bankers pay etc. The UK in the end will be a loser in this scenario because finance jobs won't necessarily be recreated in London or UK to escape the regulation - they will just disappear altogether. In some respects this will force the rebalancing of the UK economy away from reliance on banking and financial services, which can only be a good thing - but painful in the short / medium term.
  25. The planets are not exactly perfectly aligned for Scottish independence - I think there should be another inde ref and as a Scot I would certainly consider moving back there if it looked like Scotland would be a success in the EU, but the economic and social reality of a customs border between England and Scotland is just too horrible to contemplate. Scotland would be separated from an english speaking country of 60 million where 90% of its exports go. That would change over time, but I suspect that unless England remains in the single market Scotland would experience extreme financial hardship - especially with a 40% deficit and falling oil receipts. I can't really see there's any sense in a hybrid relationship - as EU is telling the UK - out is out and so it would be for Scotland and the UK. Will Scotland accept the Euro and the severe austerity to get the budget deficit under 3% of GDP. They call Edinburgh the Athens of the North - Scotland may well be the Greece of the North if it gets independence. No, I'm afraid there are no easy choices now - running from the UK into the arms of the EU is not going to be a straight forward release from this disaster.
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