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Questions Of The Day (Politics)
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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Democracy and Brexit are often in the same sentence. An odd coupling in many ways. Our MP, John Redwood (Con), is a Hard Brexiter, but his constituents voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Since the overall referendum result was half-half, the democratic outcome should probably be half in, half out or a fudge as critics call it.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Oh dear, Hatty, you won't be popular. You're supposed to define democracy as whatever it is that supports your own position. Like Wiley just did. Unless you yourself are a fudger. But I'm sure you're not.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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I don't think Donald's statement was solely about Brexit.

It is the age old Sir Humphryism, our job is to save the world from politicians. Not left/right Nor in/out...but politics.......
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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I don't know what to think about May's plan......It's really a tactical positioning, that folks are trying to judge strategically. As such it will gain support from leavers and remainers and make enemies of leavers and remainers.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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With Brexit, it is always essential to distinguish between the real and the symbolic. Take this magnificent phrase on everybody's lips "We must be rule-makers not rule-takers." Well, when we were a practising member of the EU we were one of twenty-eight rule makers and it was a majority vote. Not only were we just one-twenty-eighth of a rule maker, we were on the dissenting side more often than any other country. So we weren't in any true sense ever a rule-maker and this situation will be the same whether, so far as the Customs Union and the Single Market is concerned, we are in,.out or shaking it all about .

If we go the No Deal route (o.n.o.) we will definitely be a rule-maker. Unfortunately whenever you export anything you are not a rule-maker -- you have to accept the rules of the country you are exporting to. Now as it happens the one rule that every country in the world accepts as a Gold Standard kite mark is the CE symbol. At the moment we can use this pretty much free of charge (just our share of the costs of administering the system). Once we leave we will either not be allowed to use it, or we will have to pay for the privilege (presumably through the nose). Or we can be true rule makers and put Made in Britain on everything and hope for the best. If anyone asks we can always say, "Oh, don't worry, it's CE bar the shouting."

Next: the European Court of Justice.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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In my early days in the criminal justice system, there was a parrot cry of “Get it remanded to Sessions.” The assumption was that the (amateur) magistrates would weigh you off with a custodial as good as look at you whereas the (professional) judges would at least listen to arguments about probation or a suspended sentence. But you took the risk that the judges could impose a lengthier sentence (more than six months) than the magistrates could.

It was the same law and (sort of) the same people and (pretty much) the same outcome -- but there was some scope for playing the system. It’s like that with British courts vis à vis the European Court of Justice. You can witter on about sovereignty all you like but the outcome is (pretty much) the same so don’t throw away too many babies to keep (pretty much) the same bathwater.

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Mick Harper
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In: London
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It's all going to come down to one question:

Does the EU want to punish us or does it want to trade with us?

The reason it's likely to be the first is that trade with us is very unimportant for each individual country (I mean the marginal trade that will be affected by this or that negotiated arrangement) so no individual country will feel greatly disposed to take on the Eurocrats who will -- quite properly, it's their job -- wish to punish us in order to disencourager les autres. Who, remember, are now not just East European malcontents but Italy. Blimey O'Reilly, if we get a good deal, they'll all want it.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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The Brexit debate is in some ways little different from all Hof C debates with one set of backbench MPs predicting economic disaster, and one talking of sell-outs, etc.......

The white paper, it's really about carrying on as normal (with the exception of free movement of labour, err EU can't make that work themselves) with bilateral agreed incremental divergence.

My hunch is we are going to end up in a similar position in relation to the EU as Switzerland ( without freedom of movement but maybe again a bilateral agreement welcoming of students, tourists etc)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland–European_Union_relations
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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I broadly agree. The AE rule 'The truth is always boring' is probably going to apply but we shall have a very non-boring journey getting there. Free movement is going to be the key since that was the reason for popular demands for Brexit in the first place -- and is also the current bugbear of the EU. Whether the mobocracy will get what they thought they wanted remains to be seen. If they do, we're all in trouble, so probably they won't. The Chequers Agreement was the first shot in this Sensibles vs Crazies war.

Whether being sensible is sensible in this modern world of ours also remains to be seen. .
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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So let’s move to the real nitty-gritty -- free movement of people. Do we really want queues stretching back up the M20 of people trying to get into France? What is ze purpose of your visit? I just wanted a change, what’s it to you, pal? Yes, we all remember the old days when you were refused entry to Ostend for some footling infraction and then they had the cheek to take away your duty frees because you hadn’t been away for twenty-four hours! Not that I’ve actually been sur le continong, as Jimmy Young used to say, since the Accession Treaty of 1973. Imagine that: I missed the EU! The lights were going on all over Europe and I wasn’t there to see it. Their loss, I suppose. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, free movement of people.

Can we be honest for a minute? We don’t like free movement of people. That’s not because we’re insular, it’s not because we’re right-wing numpties, it’s not because we do a job that will be undercut by a Moldovan liberal arts professor, it’s because every human being dislikes free movement of people. It’s built into every human being. It’s built into every living thing. It’s called genes and they like to be protected and that means they don’t like different packages of genes turning up on their doorstep. So please, liberals, just for once, shut the fuck up and listen to your Uncle Mick. I am your Moldovan liberal arts professor.

more later probably
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Let us examine the different packages of genes that are likely to turn up on our doorsteps. On the day President Trump is with us perhaps we should say that he is very welcome. As a gene package. He can move in next door anytime he wants because he looks like me, he talks like me, he thinks like me and my gene package would just love to mix bodily fluids with his gene package. If you see what I mean. Melania not so much. She’s OK but she’s a bit Moldovan for my tastes. For my genes’ taste. She may even be a Muslim and want to blow me up. They come from round there, don't they?

Yes, that’s right, our genes are capable of thought. Not very sophisticated thought, they operate on a very limbic level, but we have to take note of them all the same. We can override them ourselves because we’re liberals but we can’t assume that everybody else can override them. And we live in a democracy. Now for asylum seekers.
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Mick Harper
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And refugees. They are for all practical purposes the same thing. Pedants please don't write in. This category is the hardest to cope with because we are programmed to accept refugees/asylum seekers. Don’t worry whether it’s the the genes talking or it's your reverence for the 1951 UNHCR Convention as amended by the 1967 Protocol, just accept you are going to be subject to “For Chrissake, let 'em in, haven’t they suffered enough” syndrome. So you will be interested to hear that no legitimate asylum seeker or refugee has appeared in Britain for ... say, the last ten years.

There are only two ways to get to Britain, by sea/tunnel (from France) and by air (from anywhere). We can speedily dispose of the first. Unless you're Victor Hugo or a Huguenot (a religious sect not fans) there are no refugees/asylum seekers from France only refugees/asylum seekers coming from France. According to the 1951 Convention (as amended, 1967) they should be returned to France. In case you were wondering why so many asylum seekers/refugees wish to leave France for Britain it is not because we are nicer to asylum seekers/refugees (though I expect we are) it is because we don’t have identity cards and France does so asylum seekers/refugees can live pretty normal lives here but don’t last five minutes doing anything other than living desperately in France. And no, since you ask, if they ever introduce identity cards to Britain I will be on the first boat out. Airsickness, you understand.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Which brings us to people arriving by air. To arrive in Britain by air (from outside the EU) requires two things: full documentation (airlines insist on it because they are responsible for flying the passenger back without it) and several thousand pounds (for the ticket). This is an important combination because those boatloads of people pitching up in Italy and Greece often turn up without documentation (so they can’t be returned to their country of origin) and are ostensibly penniless (so the receiving country has to take care of them). The fact they must have spent several thousand pounds even getting this far tends not to be mentioned.

The combination of documentation and money means that the chances of the individual being a genuine refugee/asylum seeker is exceedingly small. Let us be clear: the chances that the applicant is having a really tough time of it in their own country is exceedingly large. Nobody in his right mind would get a plane or train or boat or the back of a lorry to anywhere in order to mooch about as marginal chancers who may get permission to stay or may not, may be able to eke out a living on the margins or may not, may get sent home pronto or may not. You have to be desperate.

But the chances that any given individual will have several thousand pounds and full documentation and be subject to the kind of immediate persecution that is required for refugee/asylum seeking purposes is not great. It may be harsh to point it out but someone crossing the Syrian border is a refugee, someone in a refugee camp is no longer a refugee. He or she (and their photogenic kiddies) is no longer subject to the kind of immediate persecution that qualifies them as refugees. I wouldn’t wish their lives on anybody but once they leave the camp and take off for Europe they are economic migrants not refugees. They wish to improve their lives not save them. This distinction is what bedevils the entire debate.
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